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Top 5 Things Mystery Shopping can do that Online Reviews Can't

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Both reviews and a solid mystery shopping program are essential for monitoring your customer experience, this is true.  However, neither one of them is enough on their own.  Many businesses may think that having a great social listening program is sufficient, but there are some key parts of your customer experience that you will be missing out on by relying on social reviews only.  We are going to share with you a list of the top 5 things (although there are many more) that a great mystery shopping program can do for your customer experience metrics that social listening can't do.


"74% of customer experience professionals use surveys for decision-making, making surveys the top data source versus social media or web analytics."-PWC

  1. Objectivity: Part of what mystery shoppers are required to do is to state facts backed up with objective evidence.  Customers leaving reviews can simply put 1 star or 5 stars without any objective reasoning.  Key items like how the customer was feeling that day, or something as simple as the weather might make their review less objective and skew their rating.
  2. Specifics:  Customers leaving reviews do not know what company policies are or what employees are trained to do.  They have no idea if they are missing out on a part of the experience because the employee missed some KPI's, but mystery shoppers do.  Building a survey to ensure that KPI's are hit and the customer experience is delivered as the brand has intended is what mystery shoppers observe and report on.
  3. Targeting: Reviews that left on social sites are random and can all be for one employee, or they could be varied, there is no control or pattern to if and when feedback will come in.  Some locations in your brand may only get 1 review for every 10 reviews at another location, so the ratings are not consistent or reliable.  Mystery Shopping programs can be targeted to certain days, times, or even specific employees to ensure that you are getting the variety of insights that you need to cover all of your bases.  With Mystery Shopping, if there was known issues that day that would have impacted the results (since mystery shopping can also be considered a 'snapshot of time', not a problem, you can re-do the shop again, but you do not have the power to re-do a review. Since every location is being measured with the same gauge, the ability to benchmark or compare to each other is more apples-to-apples.
  4. Reward:  Creating a mystery shopping program to reward employees for great work is an awesome way to boost morale, foster great work habits and generate friendly competition.  After a mystery shop is conducted if it is over a certain percentage our shoppers or our reporting system can instantly reward the employee for a job well done.  As this is objective with no internal or external forces to asway the results, this is a great methodology for rewards.  If you rely on employees asking customers to mention their names in reviews for a chance to be rewarded that month, so many external and internal forces can affect that rating.  The employee can encourage friends and family to review them repeatedly, scorned ex's or other employees could leave bad reviews, etc.  It is best to reward with a system that has no reason to not be objective.
  5.  Scoring:  As with many social review sites, once a review is posted it is there for the long haul.  If a business has a bad day, but that is the day 100 negative reviews were left, your social scoring or star rating drops and it can take a long time to recover from it.  This recovery journey may see your slowly ratings rise, but you cannot necessarily attribute it to a key change or positive innovation your team put forth.  With mystery shopping and mystery shop reporting, you can benchmark changes and compare them over time and over other locations and each campaign is a chance to be 100% again. This feedback is rewarding to everyone who is trying hard to see improvements but finds monitoring social review ratings stagnate and unmotivating. 

Each insight and feedback method has its' place.  The unsolicited review is great for instant snapshots of each locations customer experience.  The mystery shop is great for in-depth KPI target monitoring and objective evidence gathering.  We really feel that doing a great job on reporting, monitoring and comparing both to each other allows business deeper insights and greater chances to create action that will drive sales up.

If you are interested in what a Mystery Shopping program or a Social Listening and Reputation program might look like for your business, contact us and we would be happy to discuss your needs and a solution.