25 Reasons for Companies to Gather Intelligence
May 17, 2011 by Confero Inc.
1. Measure your competition’s phone skills. You may know how well your employees handle incoming phone requests for information on your company, but do you know how effective the competition’s employees are during phone experiences? Gathering intelligence with competitive mystery shops allows you to measure how well your employees stack up against the competition.
2. Assess competitors’ in-person customer service. It’s equally important to know how your employees rank against the competition in terms of in person customer service experiences. Are there areas where the competition is “wowing” the customers? If so, is it enough to make customers want to buy from the competitor company rather than your company?
3. Learn about competitive product/service offerings. Many times, it isn’t easy to gather information on competitor offers. With competitive mystery shops, mystery shoppers pose as regular customers and therefore can gather objective information on the latest competitor products and services.
4. Gather data on competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. Telephone and onsite competitor shops provide data on competitor strengths and low-performing areas, so that you know what you are up against. Communicate the competition’s strengths and weaknesses to your own employees. Discuss ways to highlight your company’s strengths in ways that outshine the competition.
5. Gain information on what your competition says about your company. At times, companies need competitive intelligence regarding what others say about their services or employees. With mystery shopping, organizations quickly learn the details of competitor claims. They use the information to adjust sales strategies as needed.
6. Learn about the competition’s elevator speech. What do your competitors highlight as their unique differentiators? With this knowledge, companies are better armed to win against the competition.
7. Gather pricing data. Solid pricing strategy includes periodic review of competitor pricing on similar services and products. Are you sure about what your competition charges? If not, mystery shops uncover and aggregate this valuable data.
Internal Reasons: Impact Sales
8. Build friendly competition among units and regions. Internal competition creates higher performance levels across the board. While individual recognition is important, team recognition motivates many individuals to excel. With creative incentives and communication, mystery shops provide ways to measure performance and a basis for competition among work teams.
9. Review employee performance in specific sales situations. Mystery shopping companies deploy shoppers with unique backgrounds and qualifications, including those with certain income levels, specific product knowledge, age ranges and other demographics. When managers need to learn more about how employees interact with customers in very specific situations, mystery shops supply the information.
10. Test a pilot for a new promotion. If management needs to assess how employees will present a new promotion, a series of mystery shops uncover preliminary feedback. With this information, managers can fine-tune the promotion before rolling it out company-wide.
11. Find out how employees respond to customers via email. Are employees responding promptly? Are they sending emails with good grammar and punctuation? These email basics may impact a potential customer’s decision on whether or not to buy from your firm.
12. Measure marketing compliance. It’s challenging for managers to visit many locations within a short time-frame. Mystery shoppers make it easier by gathering marketing compliance information and reporting on it within 24 hours. A “blast” of mystery shops allow companies to assess how locations are doing in terms of marketing compliance, within the same short time period.
13. Assess legal compliance. Financial institutions that offer investment services, for example, display legally-required signage. It’s important for managers to learn if locations display the correct investment materials and if they display these materials in the appropriate locations, however, managers may not have time to do this. Mystery shoppers meet the need for this requirement.
14. Inspect standards at new locations. For companies with new locations, more frequent mystery shops help managers assess how the locations understand and meet company standards for such areas as greeting the customer, product knowledge and sales skills.
15. Measure how well employees meet new standards. Implementing a new sales strategy is great, but how do you know if your employees use the recommended approach?
16. Determine sales improvement areas. Since mystery shoppers use the same scenario for each location, companies gain a picture of what behaviors employees exhibit consistently and those that employees do not do. For example, mystery shopping trend reports may reveal that locations perform consistently well in the product knowledge area, however employees are less skilled at asking for the order.
17. Measure cross-sell efforts. Whether the company is a restaurant or a financial services firm, employee cross-sell efforts impact bottom line. When employees know that any shopper could be a mystery shopper, more employees suggest additional services.
18. Encourage employees to refer. For many companies, referrals to other areas of the company are equally as important as direct cross sell attempts. Companies want to ensure that customers know about other services that may help them. Mystery shops assess how well employees listen for clues for other needs and measure if employees effectively refer to other departments.
Internal Reasons: Improve Training
19. Identify employees for mentoring. Mystery shop reports show which employees excel consistently in terms of company expectations and those who do not. Employees that do well in terms of mystery shopping scores generally make good mentors for other employees. Mentors offer an extra, effective way to train employees in addition to formal company training.
20. Adjust training. When companies gather data on how employees handle certain sales or service situations, they can use the data to devise new training programs. For example, mystery shops may reveal that most retail store employees do not suggest the store credit card, and in response implement quick training on how to recommend the product.
21. Use recorded calls for new employee training. It’s helpful for new employees to listen to a recorded phone call that demonstrates company standards for phone inquiries. A well-executed telephone recorded mystery shop serves as a model for new employees, whether it is for a new employee handling take-out orders for a restaurant or a new employee at an answering service.
22. Send resources to locations that need it the most. For companies with many locations, mystery shoppers are an extra set of eyes. Up to the minute reporting allows managers to see which locations need the most help, and send managers to those locations quickly if necessary.
Internal Reasons: Data for Employee Reviews and Incentives
23. Reward high-performing employees. Companies use creative ways to incent employees based on mystery shopping results, from downloadable incentives such as ITunes cards to cash to gift cards. Companies that offer recognition programs hope to reduce turnover rates with these added employee incentives.
24. Measure performance objectively. It’s tough for managers to objectively measure employee performance as they are walking by a desk or cash register. The ability to measure employees across the board in areas such as listening skills and thanking customers are advantages of using mystery shoppers. The reports provide impartial data that allows managers to assess performance.
25. Gather objective data for employee reviews. To ensure that employees take the mystery shops seriously, many firms use mystery shop scores as a piece of the employee review. When employees know that mystery shop scores help determine ratings and pay increases, they pay even more attention to company standards.