1. In person, one on one: One of the best ways to gain impact from mystery shops is to meet with employees one-on-one to discuss results. If an employee does not score well on a shop, managers need to coach the employee privately. They can discuss ways to improve the customer interaction and also the employee’s concerns with any of the mystery shop expectations.

2. Email: Companies send summary emails about regional and company performance within each mystery shopping area to keep everyone on the right track. Highlighting the high-scoring areas compliments employees, while detailing often-missed sections lets employees know where to place more effort.

3. Staff meetings: Whether at the unit, regional, or district level, staff meetings provide good opportunities to discuss mystery shop outcomes and improvement strategies for the more difficult areas of the mystery shop. For example, if many associates struggle with a closing question, use a staff meeting to brainstorm ideas about asking for the business. If some employees hesitate to refer customers to other departments, dig deeper into the reasons to develop process improvements.

4. Internal Campaign Meetings: A good way to link mystery shopping results into a positive meeting setting is to include shop performance in unit and district competitions. Many employees will not admit it, but they like recognition within the workplace. Providing individual, location or unit comparisons on mystery shopping performance – and linking it to reward or recognition – engages associates in the meeting and improves performance across the board.

5. Interviews: Managers should inform job candidates up front about detailed job requirements, including the company’s mystery shopping expectations. The more potential employees know about standards for phone answering, customer service expectations, sales goals and referrals, the better prepared they will be to contribute to the company’s bottom line.

6. New associate training: New employee training should include an explanation of the mystery shop process, on the spot rewards if applicable, and examples of a mystery shop result report. One of the advantages of a mystery shop program is that the mystery shop survey serves as a written expectation of employee/customer interactions. Share the survey with the new employee from the start so that the employee gets off the ground running.

7. New manager training: Whether your company uses onsite mystery shopping, telephone mystery shopping or video mystery shopping, new managers need to know what to expect from mystery shops at their locations. They also need to know how often shops will take place and how to use information for training and motivating their employees. Mystery shoppers may also assess managers, and their behaviors with customers should mirror mystery shop expectations. If the company uses competitive intelligence, new managers should be brought up to speed on how well their company stacks up to the competition.

8. Ongoing Training sessions: Because mystery shops reflect revenue-producing company standards, training departments include mystery shop surveys, expectations and examples of well-done mystery shops as part of the ongoing training agenda. If your company is not already including these topics consistently, add them to ensure that you gain the most from your shops and your training program.

9. Training videos and web-based training: Companies include mystery shopping information, tips and program details in training videos and online training for employees, so that the information is always available.

10. Role play: Groups may use mystery shopping results as a focus for informal training, including role plays. Role plays may hone in on phone and face-to-face skills. This works well for branch or location-specific training, because the individual location can tailor role plays to improvement areas for their specific team. They can also choose role play scenarios based on how seasoned their associates are.

By Judi Hess via Confero, Inc.