Bad experiences can cause a customer to spread negative word of mouth, which can hurt your bottom line. Businesses such as retail stores, restaurants and services thrive on customer service, and many of them employ secret shoppers as a result. However, before you hire a secret shopper, there are a few things you should be aware of to ensure that you remain compliant with HR laws and other laws.
Pick a company with a good reputation
While it may seem cost effective and beneficial to hire someone you know to be the mystery shopper, doing so could reduce your chances of getting accurate information. If you need a mystery shopper for your business, check with a well known and reputable company. According to a FindLaw blog post, “Legal Tips for Hiring a Secret Shopper,” hiring from a reputable company ensures that your secret shopper will be trained. “The key to a valuable secret shopper experience from the business perspective is giving good instructions and getting good data. Make sure the agency, and the specific shopper, know your needs and are equipped to handle them. A secret shopper has to track down names, take notes and pay attention to details. Sure, it seems easy to shop secretly. But it’s not like an average afternoon at the mall, and you want to make sure that whoever you hire to spy on your people is sufficiently mature and sensible to keep you out of trouble.”
Use the results to improve your service
One of the things you’ll be paying your mystery shoppers for is honesty. Their experience can lead to improvements in protocol, employee training and other factors of customer service. Business2Community article, “5 Ways to Use Mystery Shoppers to Improve Your Business,” outlines the benefit. “Mystery shopper exercises can help to document step by step the process of buying your services/products or seeking customer support. You can [also] detect deficiencies and make alterations to your customer care charter to the benefit of your customers.” However, the FindLaw post mentioned above cautions against making hasty decisions based on what you find out. “Whatever unpleasant things you learn about workers from a mystery shopper, do not act on the basis of the shopper’s experience alone [unless it was exceptionally bad]. If what you find out is that one, some or all of your workers are not performing as you would like or expected, address it with more training and maybe a talk.” The article goes on to mention that there may be legal ramifications involved if you fire someone based on the mystery shopper report.
Hiring a secret shopper or instituting a regular program can help keep your employees on their toes and dedicated to good service. Just make sure that you don’t act impulsively if you read something unfavorable, and this can be an excellent tool.
This article was written by Alaina Brandenburger of Examiner.com for CBS Small Business Pulse.