Does your current mystery shopping strategy take into account associates from different generations? Consider this fact: By 2014, millennials will comprise 36% of the workforce. You need to meet the unique needs of your different employee segments to manage effectively, and this millennial group demands attention.
Whether you want to see how well associates greet customers, upsell or resolve a problem, complaint or return; mystery shopping provides unique insights into employee behaviors. How you use this data ultimately determines how valuable the shops are, and reports and insights help you nail down key management areas. Here are five tips on using mystery shops to more effectively manage associates:
1. Don’t use the same approach with every employee.
Employees need feedback, however some respond more favorably to different types of feedback. Consider the type of communication that you provide based on the individual employee and their generation. For example, millennials usually desire clear expectations. Once millennial employees are clear on the mystery shop expectations, they need little guidance going forward. Because millennials tend to favor a flexible environment, a mystery shop survey that allows for various ways to earn a “yes” answer can be motivating. For example, employees could receive a positive score on the greeting section if they meet two of the three required actions: stand, shake hands and make eye contact; as opposed to making all three mandatory.
2. Liven up your training with actual mystery shopping results.
During meetings, read positive comments from a shopper’s report. You can also read comments to the group, such as, “The associate knew the checking account features well; however she did not talk about the type of account that I needed.” By listening to what an unbiased observer such a shopper says about the customer interaction, associates gain real insights into how their customers perceive their words and actions. Millennials on your team appreciate it when a training discussion includes their ideas on sales or service solutions. As a group, millennials like to take ownership and voice opinions. Training based on real-life examples and two way conversations keeps employees interested and motivated.
3. Add to employee incentives: Reward!
Quarterly bonuses. ITunes cards. Gift card drawings. A half day of vacation. If you tailor your incentives to employee interests, prizes ultimately encourage more success. Better yet, offer a choice of incentives to meet differing tastes. Millennials may prefer iTunes; while older workers may opt for gift cards or cash. Many millennials want positive reinforcement and acknowledgement of solid performance makes an impact.
Extend your mystery shop program with employee recognition and on the spot rewards . Some mystery shopping vendors offer this as an add-on service, so that associates don’t need to spend time managing inventory and tracking rewards. Sometimes, recognition on the spot for the individual or the entire team makes the biggest impact on sales results.
If you haven’t changed the incentive lately, poll your employees to see what they would like. For millennials especially, offering flexibility and asking for their opinions will help you manage with impact. If you have never rewarded employees with an incentive, offer one. Consider the offer of incentives for most improved location or individual. The cost of the incentive does not need to be large to show that your company is happy to reward associates who meet and exceed expectations.
4. Meet one on one.
Some employees do not like public recognition and rewards, and others need coaching that should take place privately. Do you have an associate who really missed the boat on a mystery shop? Talk with the employee one on one to learn what happened and discuss how to enhance their selling style or tweak customer service skills. Again, approach members of different groups differently. Talks with seasoned baby boomers may flow differently than discussions with millenials. Millenials tend to want flexibility, while boomers may be more inclined to stay within the structure. Conversations with these differences in mind lead to better management outcomes.
5. Determine inconsistencies.
Mystery shopping reveals which employees retain training knowledge and which ones need a refresher class. If a large group of associates perform weakly in a certain area, such as closing the sale, new training classes can zero in on this need. Since millennials as a group like to take ownership, be sure to include their input on the direction of future training and mystery shop goals.
Incorporating individual needs and group differences into your mystery shop management leads associates to success. Do you have unique ways that you have used mystery shop results to manage employees? We would welcome your comments.