At A Glance:
The Five Dimensions Of Service Quality Successful Mystery Shopping Programs
At Seven Seventeen Credit Union (Warren, Ohio), shoppers evaluate employees and the branch on the following five service qualities:
Tangibles: This includes the physical appearance of the facility, equipment and personnel.
Reliability: The ability of the employee to perform accurately and dependably.
Responsiveness: The employee’s willingness to help the customer and provide prompt service.
Assurance: The employee’s ability to inspire trust and confidence.
Empathy: Whether or not the employee was caring and provided individualized attention.
Shoppers evaluate credit union branches and their employees on five “dimensions” of service quality, according to Cumberworth. These dimensions are evaluated by mystery shoppers during branch visits.
After a shopper leaves a branch, he or she answers specific questions related to each of the five dimensions of service, says Cumberworth.
The shopper then rates the quality of service he or she received in each category or dimension on a scale of one to five. A score of one indicates that the shopper was “very dissatisfied” and a score of five that he or she was “very satisfied.”
Shoppers also provide written commentary related to questions on the mystery shopping form, says Cumberworth.
“Our members take pride in offering feedback,” says Cumberworth, who notes that it is useful to receive comments from real members because everyone has a unique way of reporting their experiences and is vested in the institution.
The five dimensions of service quality that members evaluate are outlined below:
This category focuses on the appearance of the physical facilities, equipment and personnel at a branch, says Cumberworth.
Specific questions that shoppers ask themselves as they walk into the credit union include:
- Is the staff well-groomed and appropriately dressed?
- Is the teller area clean, orderly, and free of food and drinks?
- Did staff maintain professional behavior?
In this category, the shopper evaluates the ability of the employee he or she is “shopping” to perform dependably and accurately, says Cumberworth.
Questions in this category include:
- Did the employee ask for your I.D.?
- Was the transaction performed correctly?
The shopper scores this category based upon the staff’s willingness to help him or her and provide prompt customer service, says Cumberworth.
Shoppers answer questions on their form such as:
- Were you greeted in a welcoming and upbeat manner?
- Did the member face you and make eye contact during the greeting?
This dimension is concerned with an employee’s ability to inspire trust and confidence, says Cumberworth.
Questions shoppers answer in this category include:
- Did the employee exhibit interest and willingness in serving?
- Did the employee try to sell a product that you already have with the credit union?
- Did the employee take the initiative or next step in trying to secure the suggested product or service?
In this category, shoppers evaluate whether or not they were given caring, individualized attention, says Cumberworth.
Shoppers answer questions on this part of the form such as:
- Did the employee use your name?
- Did you feel appreciated and valued as a member of the credit union?
- How do you rate the credit union compared to other financial institutions that you use on a regular basis?
Trend reports created from mystery shopping data
After the shopper completes the mystery shopping form„which can be done electronically or on paper„he or she submits it to Support Financial Recourses.
Support Financial Resources then compiles the credit union’s mystery shopping data and creates trend reports. These are uploaded to a password-protected Web site that the credit union can access in order to view the data. A sample trend report is shown on the following page.
Performance data can be viewed on an individual, group, branch and/or credit union level and compared to earlier periods. The credit union can also view its scores in comparison to other financial institutions.
The credit union uses mystery shopping data as a tool to gauge service quality over time and to coach employees toward higher levels of service performance, says Cumberworth.
52 shops are performed each month
The credit union performs 52 shops per month across its branches, says Cumberworth. At the end of last year, the credit union was averaging a score of 4.78 on its sales and service performance, she says.
“We are particularly pleased with how our members rated us in the area of emotional connection,” says Cumberworth, “because if our members are emotionally connected to usƒthen their loyalty is sure to follow. And that’s our overall aim.”