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Customer Satisfaction Measurement (CSM) vs. Mystery Shopping (MS)

 By Julio Zilli,  Auditor Service Director.

Both typologies help businesses improve customer service as well as being more efficient and profitable.

These investigations are addressed  with different methodologies and techniques;They are complimentary when used together because they generate  greater benefits.

CSM interviews current clients to  measure their perception of the service, they give their opinion of the service;  MS measures the point of sale operation  by evaluating the compliance of certain processes..

To better understand the differences and the complementarity  of the afore mentioned,first of all we are going to explain what each type of study is, and the extent of its reach.

Characteristics of the Customer Satisfaction Measurement (CSM) studies

These are studies used to measure the clients´ perception of the services they receive.

With this study we evaluate the overall customer satisfaction with the service experience, the recommendation, competitiveness, commitment and the performance of  each one of the service processes ( or moments in which the business has contact with the client) and products.

To obtain the information a survey is applied to  a representative sample of the company´s clients with certain regularity (in most cases on a monthly basis)

The surveys are carried out mainly by telephone (CATI) face to face at points of affluence and by e mail (CAWI).

Characteristics of the Mystery Shopping (MS)Studies

They are used to measure the point of sale operations.

With the  MS studies we evaluate the compliance of attention processes (standards) defined by the company in each moment of contact with the client.

For example, in  the instance of a Bank we would evaluate the compliance of particularities such as : wait time, quality of client treatment by the attending executive, executive guidance,  the executive´s use of sales tools,cross selling, departure, insallations etc.

To obtain the information  Mystery Shoppers are used, they are “common people” behaving like any other customer ,they  visit the point of sale and observe and interact with the contact persons, then they fill out a questionnaire explaining the “experience” they had in the place.

These visits ( or contacts by phone or e mail) to the point of sale can be used independently to identify the areas which have opportunities of improvement in their operations.

The MS don´t need a representative sample of the clients: they measure the oprational standards compliance; if the service is up to standard there shouldn´t be much difference between the different evaluations.

These surveys are carried out mainly in person but contact by telephone and email is also used.

The measurements are caried out with certain regularity ( in most cases by month or by quarter)

Complementarity between a Customer Satisfaction Measurement (CSM)and a Mystery Shopping (MS)

With both studies you can determine the  GAP  that exists between the Operation  (What is really happening in the point of sale) and the  Perception  of the clients (what they  think is happening).

This methodological focus is carried out with objective of closing the  (GAP) that exists between a  CSM and an  MS.

At the same time this allows us to expand and identify the successful aspects of the brand and use them as a base for the brand´s integral development.

On the other hand, the low performance aspects allow the retraining of first line personnel, and the adjustment of processes and the definition of new ones.

This is a permanent and dynamic process and it is necessary to be measuring these  GAPs in order to make permanent and necessary adjustments to improve service quality.

Analysis Model of Customer Service GAPs©

With the measuring, continuous improvement and customer service control , the priorities for providing an excellent customer service experience can be identified. In the end the client´s experience is what matters.

The benefits of the joint CSM and MS programs are varied and plentiful:

  • It identifies prioritized aspects that should be improved.
  • It allows the tracking of established project results, and it also keeps the work team concentrated.
  • It raises the attention and customer service satandards, because any client can be a Mystery Shopper thus the personnel strive to give better service and treatment.
  • It orients personnel towards what is really important for improving customer satisfaction and sales.
  • It increases point of sale profits because it motivates the use of cross selling.
  • It allows performance improvement throughout the company´s branches by sharing the best practices identified in the studies.
  • With the continuous use of performance indicators, a healthy competitive environment is created which elevates the performance standards and trascends the point of sale limits.
  • With the improvement of services the brand is consolidated,there is an increment of loyal and satisfied clients willing to increase purchase frequency and recommend the service to others.

To establish and communicate Customer Service procedure guides and manuals is not enough to guarantee full customer satisfaction, it is of vital importance to verify that what is written on paper be carried out at the point of sale.The regular  monitoring  of service levels and the implementation of concrete adjustments and improvements, ensure customer loyalty in terms of recommendation and repurchase.

Many businesses consider customer service excellence an essential part of the brand´s “promise”.Most of them have a continuous program dedicated to the evaluation of customer satisfaction and operations at points of sale.When applied adequately and the GAPs identification model is used, the interrelation between the client´s perception and operations brings a transformation of service culture to all members of the organization.

* Article published by Auditor Service (www.auditorservice.com). Auditor Service  eis a business specialized in customer service Auditing and Measuring.