Sunday, 10 May 2015

Improving Customer Service Through Better Leadership

Sydney based business consultants Nine Pillars has released a short guide for businesses wishing to improve their customer service by providing better leadership.

The link between customer service and leadership is an important one. Great leaders inspire their team and attract positive people that are motivated and happy – this leads directly to the provision of better service and a better experience by your customers. Not only do great leaders get their team to be more engaged, they also inspire their staff to be more involved in the business.

Nine Pillars outlines three simple ways that you can improve your leadership skills and get more team engagement.

1. Have a Vision for the Business
Have a picture where you want to take the business. Once you are clear on this yourself, you can share this with your team. This will get them more positive about the future of the business and their own prospects and this will in turn lead to them being more positive with your customers.

2. Lead by Example
Don’t be one of those business owners that expects one thing but does another. Some areas that you can lead by example are: be positive yourself – this will rub off on your team; be punctual; set high standards and police them; etc. It’s up to you to show the way for your team.

3. Expect High Standards
Many business owners EXPECT high standards but ACCEPT a lower level of work. Don’t fall into this trap – don’t just expect high standards but make sure that you police this and pull your team up if they aren’t delivering. It’s so common for business owners to let standards slip over time.

The video guide can be viewed here

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Mystery Customer - How it works....

Mystery Customer or a Secret Shopper, is a tool used externally by market research companies or internally by companies themselves to measure quality of service, or to gather specific information about products and services. The mystery consumer's specific identity and purpose is generally not known by the establishment being evaluated. Mystery shoppers perform specific tasks such as purchasing a product, asking questions, registering complaints or behaving in a certain way, and then provide detailed reports about their experiences.
Mystery shopping was standard practice by the early 1940s as a way to measure employee integrity. Tools used for mystery shopping assessments range from simple questionnaires to complete audio and video recordings. Mystery shopping can be used in any industry, with the most common venues being retail stores, hotels, movie theaters, restaurants, fast food chains, banks, gas stations, car dealerships, apartments, health clubs and health care facilities.

When a client company hires a company providing mystery shopping services, a survey model will be drawn up and agreed to which defines what information and improvement factors the client company wishes to measure. These are then drawn up into survey instruments and assignments that are allocated to shoppers registered with the mystery customer company.
The details and information points shoppers take note of typically include:
  • number of employees in the store on entering
  • how long it takes before the mystery customer is greeted
  • the name of the employees
  • whether or not the greeting is friendly, ideally according to objective measures
  • the questions asked by the shopper to find a suitable product
  • the types of products shown
  • the sales arguments used by the employee
  • whether or how the employee attempted to close the sale
  • whether the employee suggested any add-on sales
  • whether the employee invited the shopper to come back to the store
  • cleanliness of store and store associates
  • speed of service
  • compliance with company standards relating to service, store appearance, and grooming/presentation
Shoppers are often given instructions or procedures to make the transaction atypical to make the test of the knowledge and service skills of the employees more stringent or specific to a particular service issue (known as scenarios). For instance, mystery customers at a restaurant may pretend they are lactose-intolerant, or a clothing store mystery customer could inquire about gift wrapping services. Not all mystery customer scenarios include a purchase.
While gathering information, shoppers usually blend in as regular shoppers at the store being evaluated. They may be required to take photographs or measurements, return purchases, or count the number of products, seats, people during the visit. A timer or a stopwatch may be required.
After the visit the shopper submits the data collected to the mystery customer company, which reviews and analyzes the information, completing quantitative or qualitative statistical analysis reports on the data for the client company. This allows for a comparison on how the stores or restaurants are doing against previously defined criteria.

Sourced from Wikipedia


Sunday, 9 September 2012

How important is mystery shopping?

How important is your role as the mystery shopper? Extremely Important!

To set the tone of this article, consider this: Your generic job title is "Mystery Shopper" however, what you are doing is something similar to a "Quality Control Auditor." Sounds better right? It is your role to measure and review the aspects of the business you are sent to.

What you report on during your encounter with the business whether it was by phone, online, or in person is generally viewed by those higher up in the hierarchy. Those that make the final decisions.

It is therefore very important that the information you enter is accurate and that you answer all the questions to the best of your ability. There is always a reason why the question was placed there, the business wants it to be reviewed.

Your report will identify both what the business is good at, and also where there is room for improvement. Staff members may be rewarded for doing well in their mystery shopping report, they might also get a warning if they didn't meet the requirements. That's why it's vital that you get the name of the staff member correctly, or provide a very detailed description of them. "Tall male with short hair aged in his mid 20's" probably won't be enough to differentiate that staff member if the organisation has many employees.

Mystery shopping might be fun and you get many perks along the way, but it is still a job, and one that is very important.

In conclusion, it is from your answers and feedback that businesses will learn and improve themselves to meet the customer's needs. At the end of the day, businesses wouldn't be in business if they didn't have customers. Your voice will be representing one major part of the whole customer population.

You can register to become a mystery shopper with Mystery Customer here.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

How to improve your mystery shopping reports

Different companies have different standards as to what the shopper should and should not include in their reports.

However, there are also factors that remain universal to all companies including:
  • Answering the questions thoroughly
  • Reports are objective and past experiences should not sway current results
  • Reports are completed without bias
  • Doing the visit during the required timeframe and submitting it soon after
Where comments are required, shoppers are required to answer the question in full with attention to spelling and grammar. If the question asks you to comment on 3 things, comment on the 3 things.

For example, a question could be: Was the bathroom well maintained without excessive water on the floor with hand towels and toilet paper well stocked? 

A poor answer that is provided by many inexperienced shoppers is: “Yes, the bathroom was well maintained.” Did the shopper answer the question? Yes. But did their answer provide the required feedback to the client? No.

A better answer for the question above could have been: “Yes. The bathroom was well maintained. There was a little splash of water on the ground near the hand basins where people dried their hands but nothing excessive to make it hazardous. The paper towel dispenser was stocked and both cubicles were well stocked with toilet paper. There was also extra toilet paper available in case it ran out.” 

Please keep in mind that businesses pay money for your reports and they use the feedback that you provide them to help improve their business. So before you submit your report, think on the business’ behalf. Would you pay for the report that you are about to submit?

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

How much work do you get as a mystery shopper?

You have probably seen advertisements circulating around different media channels (mainly online) where “mystery shopping companies” guarantee work and guarantee that you will earn large amounts of money every month. Please do not fall for these advertisements. For the majority of the times these are scammers trying to get your personal details rather than offering you jobs. Remember the saying “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

So back to the original question – How much work do you get as a mystery shopper?

The answer is: It depends. It depends on many factors. 

Let’s go through the main ones:

·   Your location: Your location is very important for TWO main reasons. ONE: The mystery shopping company might not service clients in your area so there will be no work for you. TWO: There might be a lot of registered mystery shoppers applying for the same jobs you are. Sometimes there may be only  one job in your area and there may be a dozen mystery shoppers applying. That’s one reason why you are not guaranteed work. 

·   Your ability to travel: Following from the above point, if you are willing to travel a greater distance, you have the opportunity to apply for more jobs and increase your chances of picking up more assignments.

·   The stand down period: When was the last time you mystery shopped the same venue? If the venue conducts mystery shopping once a month and you keep going back every month, wouldn’t it become obvious to the staff members that you are the mystery shopper? For this reason, mystery shopping companies will rotate shoppers to help protect your identity. It also allows other shoppers to have a go at completing the job.

·   Your shopper profile: Different companies measure their shoppers’ performance differently. However, all companies will be looking through your reports and scoring them. In general, the more reliable you are to the company, the more they will entrust you with completing future assignments. Even though your reports might be excellent, if you continually submit reports late or decline lots of surveys this will show that you cannot be relied upon all the time.

·   Whether or not you apply for the job or not: There might be jobs available but you don’t want to do them. That’s fine, however we suggest that you give it a go as you might learn and experience a thing or two. We’ve had a shopper who wasn’t keen on going to gyms because in the past she thought that staff members were treating her as a nuisance because of her physical problems. She completed a gym mystery shop with Mystery Customer and went back later to sign up because the staff members there were supportive in assisting her with her problems.

Tips for getting more mystery shopping assignments
  • Sign up with more companies (don’t sign up with too many unless you are REALLY organised)
  • Know what the company expects from you. (that’s why signing up with many companies will be confusing)
  • Read all instructions and scenarios thoroughly before completing the visit. You need to know what the mystery shopping company expects of you.
  • Complete all assignments with quality and meeting the deadlines and only apply for the jobs you can do.If you need to decline it, decline it well ahead of the due by date.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

How much will mystery shopping pay?

There are many myths and impressions people have about the pay received from doing mystery shopping. We hope this blog entry will help clear up all your questions.

Here are 9 Frequently Asked Questions regarding how much mystery shoppers get paid. We hope this article helps you find the answers you were looking for.

Will mystery shopping make me rich quick?
No. Don’t believe the ads that say you will.

What is the hourly rate?
Mystery shoppers are generally not paid on an hourly basis. They are paid for every job they successfully complete and submit.

Will I be guaranteed work? 
No. There are many factors that that impact the amount of work you get. Some of these include: There are no jobs in your area, too many shoppers applying for the job, your profile does not suit the client’s needs, you have recently visited this location etc.

Am I an employee or a contractor? 
Most mystery shopping companies will hire you as a contractor.

If I am a contractor, will I need an ABN to become a mystery shopper? 
The short answer is no. However, it is best to consult your tax accountant or contact the ATO to discuss your circumstances.

How am I paid for my work? 
Not all jobs pay. Some offer reimbursements and others offer a hybrid of the two options. Most companies pay you in the following month from the time you completed your job. Some jobs transfer money into your bank accounts, others prefer to pay you through PayPal.

How much am I expected to be paid for every job I complete? 
The amount of pay and reimbursements vary depending on the nature of the job and how involved it is. It also depends on the mystery shopping company.

If I need to purchase something during my mystery shop will I be reimbursed for it? 
This depends on the job. The instructions will advise you whether or not you will be reimbursed for the purchase or not.

Will I make thousands of dollars every month by mystery shopping? 
It is possible but very unlikely. You will need to be signed up to many companies and be willing to travel some distances for some of the jobs. You will need to be extremely organised to keep track of all the jobs that are assigned to you. 

Mystery shopping for some is a hobby for some extra side money and to be able to visit and experience new venues. For others, mystery shopping is how they make a living. We just want to share some facts with you regarding payment before you sign up to a company. 

Monday, 7 May 2012

How to select a mystery shopping company to work for?

You may be unaware that there are several scams circulating around the mystery shopping industry. Those ads saying that mystery shopping will pay you thousands of dollars every month are all scams. If you are asked to pay money to an overseas country, that is also a scam.

So what steps do you need to take when signing yourself up to the mystery shopping company? Below are 10 things you can do and should be aware of.

1. Australian Business Number (ABN).
Does the company have one? Check to see if the ABN matches their business name. See here

2. Check the Company on ASIC.
See if the company is listed on the Australian Securities & Investments Commission. See here  

3. Contact the Company.
If you are unsure whether the company is real, you should try and contact the company and talk to them or drop them an email.

4. Email Address.
Legitimate companies generally have business email addresses. Be careful of emails that have a free domain name such as

5. Company Website.
All mystery shopping companies should have a website. If there is no website or the website looks amateurish, you should be on high alert. Our website is

6. Online Activity.
Check to see when the company’s website was last updated. If the website was last updated years ago, it may not be operating anymore. Find out if they have an active social media network. Mystery Customer's Facebook page is

7. Paying to Sign Up.
We strongly advise against registering with companies that require you to pay money upfront to sign up. There is no guarantee that you will be provided with jobs, so save your money and register elsewhere!

8. MSPA Certified.
Check to see whether the mystery shopping company is a member of any professional association. The Mystery Shopping Providers Association is the professional association for mystery shopping companies around the world. Here's a list of Australian MSPA members:

9. Get Rich Quick Claims.
Be careful of advertisements that claim to pay a lot of money. If the ad sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Mystery Customer always advise the remuneration or reimbursement when each job is offered.

10. Check to see if the scam has been reported.
Visit SCAMwatch at and see if you can find any scams that look similar to what you have seen. You can also find further tips on how to protect yourself from scammers.