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Partners In Service Excellence: Mystery Shopping and CSAT Working Together

By Nicola Mansell, Client Service Associate at GAPbuster Worldwide

January 2015

Gathering feedback from customers is nothing new, though the adoption of Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) or 'Voice of the Customer' programmes has become more widespread with the advent of digital technologies. It is common now for a company to employ one of these methodologies in order to gain an understanding of what customers think of the service they receive. These programmes provide valuable, complementary information for more structured research methodologies such as mystery shopping.

The key difference between CSAT and mystery shopping is that mystery shopping programmes often measure aspects such as the quality of customer service, of the products sold and the environment this occurs in against pre-defined standards. CSAT measures the customer experience itself, asking for personal opinions, subjective feelings and the customer's perceptions of the overall experience.

Brands have an identity, which for service organisations comes to life when the customer 'promise' is delivered through the service experience. A structured service strategy defines the criteria of what the brand 'wants to be', and this is what mystery shopping measures.

When the service experience is measured by actual customers, as profiled through CSAT, the evaluation is based on an 'impression' of the experience.  This 'impression' is influenced by the individual customer's pre-conceived expectations of the brand experience, and can therefore tell you if this brand promise meets the customer's personal expectations.

Mystery shopping and CSAT measure different aspects of customer experience. Eliciting insights from both types of programme leads to a holistic picture of how a business is performing.

Mystery shoppers are specially trained and experienced in making observations and taking measurements. For example, consider a coffee shop scenario. Shoppers can take the temperature of a coffee immediately after it was served to them. They can also assess the temperature of the coffee upon consumption, from their own perspective.

We can then understand if:

     1) The coffee shop is serving coffee at the required temperature (objective), and

     2) The shoppers feel that their coffee is the right temperature for them to drink (subjective).

If the answer to both these points is 'yes', the coffee shop is achieving its aim in this regard. Gaining specific feedback on coffee temperature is not possible through CSAT as a real customer does not measure the temperature of their drink. For the scenario above, if only CSAT feedback were collected and the response was that customers consider their coffees to be served too cold, the business would not know whether they had set their temperature requirement too low, or if the shops themselves were not abiding by this requirement.

However, the key strength of CSAT is its ability to provide insight into the impact on the experience for actual customers who have real motivations and expectations when buying a product. Mystery Shoppers will buy a product because that is a requirement of their visit, whereas real customer motivations and expectations are driven by a genuine need or desire. Therefore, customer feedback can be seen as a more authentic source of insight when it comes to subjective measures.

CSAT_Mystery Shopping

At GAPbuster, we are able to supplement our mystery shopping programmes with a customer satisfaction solution known as KODO which runs on smartphone, tablet or online. Combining the insights gained from CSAT and mystery shopping programmes enables us to identify the crucial areas where customer experience can be most enhanced, combining the subjective expectations of shoppers with structured customer experiences measured against pre-defined standards. The information gathered can then be used to create action plans to deliver improvements in our clients' businesses.

Contact us to find out more.