Friday, 7 November 2014

My mystery shopping experience helps me to focus my service ideals

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I've been looking at every activity I participate in and considering how this fits into my ambition to open my own estate agency next year.  I'm considering these things in 2 aspects-

1- What can I learn from these activities for the business?

2- Will I still have the time and energy to complete these tasks when the business is up and running?

Today's events have heightened this concept in my mind, and I've decided to put it down in my blog as a thought point and talking point.

I'm a mystery shopper. I've mystery shopped for 10+ mystery shopping companies and 100+ clients for several years. It's something that I enjoy, it brings in a little bit of money and allows me access to products that I probably wouldn't normally go out and buy. On top of this, I feel that it helps me to formulate my ideas and ideals of what customer experience I want to provide. This helps with point 1 - what can I learn from these activities for the business? Well, I've learnt that the majority of customer service in retail is lukewarm, whilst the majority io service in hospitality (pubs, restaurants, hotels) is pretty good. There are always exceptions to the rule, but that's the way it stands. I've not seen mystery shops for estate agents and most of the mystery shops for financial services providers revolve around a basic counter transaction.

Today there are 3 mystery shops, all are retailers of differing products and standng. The real basics of customer service do actually cover about 80% of any report and are transferable across many industries-

Making eye contact
Smiling
Approaching customers (as in not waiting for them to approach you)
Suggesting alternative or associated products or services

These will all cross the boundary to estate agency, so I see this as positive time spent in assessing the service levels I will want to provide. It also gives me some ideas when looking at the questionnaires for the mystery shop. When the mystery shop company and the retailer or hospitality company decide what measures they will use to assess their employees, these decisions show what is important to them. These decisions have shown me what I have decided to make important-

Agreeing a call schedule
Returning calls promptly
Discussing alternative or associated products where relevant
Listening to the customer story, the soft facts before moving on to the hard facts

And these, for me are the basic tenets of my customer service proposition.

And I'd like to think I still have time when the business opens to carry out some of these mystery shop visits, although perhaps it's the pubs and restaurants that I want to spend my time in.

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