When I was a teenager, I worked at Burger King. Every month or so, our corporate office would send over a “mystery shopper.” This was just a normal person who would order food and leave without identifying themselves to the restaurant crew. After their visit, they wrote a report about the service, food quality, and restaurant cleanliness and sent it to our corporate office. None of the employees nor managers at the restaurant knew who the mystery shopper would be. We had no idea if or when he/she may be arriving. But we all heard about the report.
Each of these mystery shopper reports were presented to the employees to allow us to see a different perspective – the perspective of the customer. Most of the time, the reports were great. Occasionally however, the mystery shopper arrived and was served cold fries, or found a filthy drink station, no paper towels in the bathroom, or overflowing garbage cans.
If your business is large enough, I encourage you to mystery shop your own business. If you sell items on your website, order something using a friend or family member’s address. Walk through the ordering process as your customers would. Is your website easy to navigate? When you placed the order, did the website immediately acknowledge the purchase (“Thanks so much for your purchase!”)? Did you receive a confirmation email? Did the package arrive in a timely manner? Was the product well-packaged? Was your order correct? Was there a Thank You included in the package? Does the experience make you want to re-order from this company?
You can do this as a service company, too. Picture yourself as one of your clients. An average client. In your head, walk through the process of working with your company from this client’s perspective. How did they find you? When they contacted you, how long did it take you to reply? Was it clear to the client what services you offer and what the cost might be? Are your invoices clear and timely? Are you providing the best service possible? What else could you be doing for this customer?
Shopping at your own business can provide powerful insights into areas you can improve upon. We all have room for improvement.
Let’s go back to the Burger King example. I distinctly remember one mystery shopper mentioning the dirty soda station. Truthfully, it was clean 95% of the time. That’s pretty good – perhaps it’s good enough? But change your perspective. Pretend you are one of the customers that shows up to find dirty napkins on the floor, sticky soda spills, and empty ice machines. What kind of impression does that leave? Ever since that mystery shopper report, I paid extra attention to the self-serve drink station. I wiped it down between customer orders. I ensured the napkin holders and ice machine were filled. I IMPROVED. It was simple.
Simple changes create big results. To determine what simple changes you can make, you should mystery shop your own business. Change your perspective so you can see the opportunities right in front of you.
4 Oranges is committed to bringing you weekly tips in the form of To-Do List items that you can complete in an hour or less. These tips were generated from reviewing best practices from the hundreds of businesses I’ve worked with over the past 15 years. I expect you’re already doing some (but not all) of them. Improve your business by making quick fixes that have long-lasting results.
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