Employees and supervisors can hear the tone of the conversations

Lake Sunapee Bank ($670 million, Newport, New Hampshire) has taken its existing mystery shopping program up a notch, says Angie Deschenes, VP/Retail Banking.

“We’ve done in-person and telephone mystery shops for years, but new technology recently became available so that we could conduct recorded telephone mystery shops.”

The recorded mystery shops have allowed the bank to take a candid look at how employees sound on the phone.

Recordings help staff hear how they can improve

The bank’s recorded telephone shopping program began about two months ago in an effort to boost the usefulness of every shop.

“In some cases we had a discrepancy of how the shop went between the shopper and the employee,” she says.

Plus, the recorded mystery shops help employees judge their own performance.

“Sometimes it’s difficult to know how you sound on the phone,” says Deschenes.

“Maybe you need to be more energetic or sound more confident. The recorded mystery shop allows us to closely examine how we sound and learn from the shop.”

She says the bank contracts with Customer Perspectives (Hooksett, New Hampshire) for a certain number of shops per branch per year.

“I don’t know when the shops will occur, but we receive an e-mailed report from Customer Perspectives with details of the shop and each recorded phone conversation.”

Prior to launching the recorded phone mystery shops, the bank explained to employees why it was introducing this technology and then got each employee’s permission.

“Everyone signed a waiver. We explained that we would not share their shop with others and that it would be a one-on-one educational experience with their own supervisor.

“We wanted the employees to know that this would be strictly for training and reflection purposes and to help them deliver the best customer service possible.”

A typical waiver signed by employees is shown below.

Recorded shops also help bank evaluate shoppers

Deschenes says another benefit of the recorded shops is that she can evaluate the techniques used by the vendor’s mystery shopper.

“I can determine if the shopper is savvy and understands financial products,” she says. “Knowing this allows me to request the same shopper to return.”

She adds that the recordings also provide an opportunity to review the shopper’s initial pitch.

“If I see that one shopper seems to be delivering the same scenario over and over again we can identify it and change that.”

Once she has reviewed a shop she forwards the conversation to the shopped employee’s supervisor.

“The supervisor reviews the shop and then schedules a one-on-one meeting with the employee to review the shop together.

“We’ve found that people are uncomfortable hearing their own voice but once they get past the initial shock, the employee has the opportunity to self critique.

“During the one-on-one meeting, the supervisor might ask the employee what he or she liked or didn’t like about the shop,” says Deschenes.

“We want the employee to be the one to critique and then the supervisor can help with any changes or solutions.”

Bank would like to play back excellent shops

In the future, Deschenes says that she would love to publicly reward employees who have consistently excellent shops.

“I would love to be able to recognize those employees at our yearly sales meeting and possibly play one of their shops for everyone so that other employees can see an example of an excellent shop,” she says.

“However, I understand how sensitive the recorded shops can be so we’ll have to see if the employees get to the point of being comfortable with others hearing their shop.”


Vendor Cites Two Primary Advantages Of Recorded Telephone Mystery Shops

According to the President of Customer Perspectives, Judith Hess, there are two primary advantages of recording telephone mystery shops:

1) Managers have a chance to hear the employee’s tones and other nuances of a phone call shop that might not be evident in a written summary of a call.

2) Employees have an opportunity to improve their phone and service skills by hearing themselves during the call.

Hess says that many of the financial institutions she works with use the recorded shops as training tools to encourage employees to sound friendly, caring, helpful, knowledgeable, etc.

Shoppers call into a specific phone number which then dials the assigned employee’s phone number.

The company’s system then automatically records the whole conversation.

The financial institution can read the mystery shopping reports online and also click on a button at the bottom if they also want to hear the call.


Portion Of Vendor’s Audio Consent Agreement That Deals With Employee Consent To Be Recorded

Client acknowledges and assumes all risks inherent with each audio shop, including compliance with all applicable state laws concerning the recording of such conversations. Client assumes full responsibility for informing all of its employees that a recorded telephone shop may occur and that they consent to the recording of any of these telephone conversations in the course of their employment.

Client represents and warrants that it has obtained from each employee who may possibly be shopped by recorded telephone conversations, a simple form stating that they have been informed of such potential shops and recordings and consent to same.

Client agrees and warrants that it has a copy of a written consent in the precise form below, signed by each employee who may be shopped by recorded telephone conversation, in said employee’s personnel records:

“I understand as an employee of [financial institution’s name] that my telephone conversations in the course of my employment, both incoming and outgoing, may be recorded at any time for quality assurance purposes.

“I also understand that [financial institution’s name] may contract with third parties, including but not limited to mystery shopper providers, to conduct such recordings. I hereby give my consent to any and all such recordings.



this__ day of _____________ 20 __

Angie Deschenes, VP/Retail Banking
Lake Sunapee Bank
Newport, NH
phone: (603)865-6123
web: www.lakesunbank.com
e-mail: adeschenes@lakesunapee.com

Call Toll Free 800-CPSHOPS, to find out how Customer Perspectives’ mystery shopping programs can improve your bottom line!