The following excerpt, from the article Have you experienced your customer experience - as a customer?, was written by author Micah Solomon and published on RetailCustomerExperience.com. View his full article for further insight on who should secret shop your store and the importance of your target demographic in the process.
If you haven’t yourself experienced the customer experience at your business, is it really wise to invite an unsuspecting public in? Can you assume, with any confidence, that they will enjoy something you’ve never tried yourself?
I’m always startled when businesses don’t work at finding out, firsthand, what it’s like to use their own service or product.
Of course, it’s easy to fail to use your own product or service: Separate employee entrance, separate employee parking, separate, streamlined login process on your website, separate everything. Drive home at night, wash your hands, put work behind you. Until the next morning.
My personal experience shows the hazards of such oversights, in a very minor, non-life-threatening way. Let me explain.
As a guest hoping to work from my hotel room, I hand-cranked the desk chair — which is a nice chair, thoughtfully provided by the hotel — to literally its highest possible level. Yet even so, I am being asked by the combination of lowish seat and highish desk to type with my elbows. Which is the kind of acrobatic maneuver I’m not at all deft at.
More easily curable, but also, as the kids say, awkward: The desk (again, thoughtfully provided) was so wobbly that it took all the cardboard I could scavenge to prop it up to plumb.
Both of these mismatches would have been obvious if someone on the hotel team had tried, even once, to use the desk.
This, I argue, would beat hearing about it on Tripadvisor, wouldn’t it? Or more likely, never hearing about it. A fate that is probably even worse.
When I consult for a business on customer service and the customer experience, one of the first steps I take is to secret-shop the establishment. I’m pretty obsessive: A typical secret shopping report, for, say, an excellent restaurant that wants to improve further, is some 35 pages of photos and text.
Such a report may seem excessive, and perhaps it is. But you should be trying at least a scaled-down version of shopping yourself, yourself. As often as possible.
Has your store ever implemented secret shopping? If so, share what you learned with other stores in the comments section.