Tuesday, September 17, 2013, AM | Leave Comment
Sometimes, a fresh eye is all that’s needed to improve a flagging business. It’s understandable really – not even the best company manager in the world can be expected to know everything, about everyone, at all times. When it comes to employees, it’s especially hard to keep your eye on the ball.
You might have the power to tinker and play with company numbers, rules and procedures, but your power is somewhat diminished in regards to your employees and the way that they see their own work.
That’s exactly why the introduction of a fresh eye can be so rewarding. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be an eye that comes with many strings attached.
Mystery shopping is an ideal way to gain a fresh perspective on your business without relinquishing control to another affiliated body, says Telegraph journalist Christopher Middleton.
Mystery shoppers are completely independent, with no obligations or legal ties to any business except the independent agency that pays them.
If your company seems to have reached a performance plateau, it could be a good idea to arrange a visit from a UK IMS mystery shopper.
Not only is mystery shopping a great way to identify any problems that your company might have, it’s also a great way to identify what strengths your company has.
A lot of business owners seem to forget or even be completely unaware of the fact that mystery shopping doesn’t just have to be a negative thing. Perhaps your company is experiencing an unexpected surge in popularity and you want to know why. Perhaps a rival business has moved in next door and you want to reassure yourself that your customer base will stay loyal.
Mystery shopping isn’t just used by businesses in trouble. It’s a great way to gather unknown insights into a company, to be privy to information that you’d otherwise miss.
As aforementioned, it can often be quite difficult to get real, useful insights about employees. Members of staff might appear to be working productively, but it’s still important to know whether or not they feel positive about what they’re required to do.
The difference between an employee who performs well but doesn’t feel completely happy with their job, and an employee who performs well and feels cheery and upbeat whilst completing their duties can be vast, says Brian Hamill from MSB Consultancy.
Due to their independent stance, a mystery shopper can feign all sorts of different scenarios designed to test the skills, manners and deportment of your staff members. Why not task a mystery shopper with entering your store and inquiring about a position?
The shopper is then free to ask questions like ‘Is this a good job?’ ‘Do you enjoy this job?’ ‘Do they treat you fairly in this job?’ and ‘Do you think the wage is good enough?’ without running into procedural or legal problems.
If you do take this route, it is absolutely vital that you do so for the right reasons, say the experts at NFIB.com. Unless a staff member shares confidential information or slanders your company in some way, you cannot use negative reviews as an excuse to penalise or fire anybody.
Instead, use negative or unfavourable feedback in a positive manner – use it to improve and enhance your business. Avoid targeting specific individuals and think carefully about whether or not you reveal the fact that you’ve hired a mystery shopper after the visit has been completed.
It is often much more useful for a manager to keep this information to themselves – employees can sometimes feel unfairly scrutinised or paranoid if they know that they have been temporarily ‘duped,’ no matter how legal or acceptable the process.
Rosette is a marketing consultant and consumer rights expert. She recommends UK IMS for a top quality, reliable mystery shopping service. Rosette can usually be found talking to clients on the phone or helping struggling businesses regain their full potential.