For retail chains and other competitive consumer-based companies, the information in the “shops” – industry lingo for the work of the undercover operatives – is vital, said Judi Hess, owner of Customer Perspectives, a New Hampshire company that services many western Massachusetts clients, including Florence Savings Bank.
“Your reputation is everything, particularly now with social media … ,” Hess said. “How do businesses know if their customer service is as good as they think it is if they don’t measure?”
Florence Savings has used mystery shoppers for the last six years, sending them into its nine branches on a quarterly basis to grade tellers, lenders and customer service representatives. Its call center is also surveyed.
“We want to make sure that our customers have a positive experience with the bank on a very consistent basis,” said Sharon Rogalski, senior vice president and director of retail banking.
Florence Savings devotes a lot of resources to training employees about customer service, Rogalski said. Mystery shopping is a way for the bank to have “fresh” eyes providing feedback on how well employees are meeting standards.
It also enables the bank to acknowledge workers who are performing well.
“We know we have a lot of employees who do an outstanding job, but this gives us an opportunity to recognize and thank them,” Rogalski said. “We do not view it as an ‘I gotcha.’ ”
Rogalski said she reviews every mystery shopping report the bank receives, makes notes on it and gives it to the employee. President John Heaps, the bank’s CEO, does the same, she said.