If your company is like so many others, you’ve invested countless hours, dollars, and brain cells building a vibrant corporate culture. That’s because you know a winning corporate culture is inextricably tied to more revenue, higher profits, and 5-star customer satisfaction.
So why would you risk all that with a mystery shopping program that makes employees feel targeted or “spied on”?
At Grace Hill, one of the biggest mystery shopping challenges we see property management companies struggle with is employee resistance. There’s a palpable fear of mystery shops from onsite teams. They feel they’re being singled out, with the results eventually used to reprimand or, even worse, fire them.
Unfortunately, this response has been conditioned by many years of using mystery shopping as more of a human resources tool focused on new hires and underperformers and tied directly to employment or bonus decisions.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Mystery shopping can be a powerful performance management tool, as evidenced by Grace Hill’s Validate solution. Used as part of a comprehensive program, it generates awareness around your most important brand standards and initiatives, helps align goals across the organization, and drives organizational behavior change—all in the spirit of better serving the customer.
The Brand/Culture Connection
According to Corporate Wellness Magazine, culture is made up of the organization’s collective values, norms, and beliefs—a.k.a. “how things are done around here.”
Your culture is what shapes your brand, which is the outward manifestation of your company’s DNA. It defines whether or not people who come in contact with you and your employees have a positive customer experience—or a not-so-great one.
The right mystery shopping program takes this into account by “inspecting what you expect.” Surveys should cover not only the fundamentals but should also address expectations unique to your organization’s intended customer experience. They should measure the degree to which your onsite teams are supporting your investment into your brand’s identity. Finally, as the organization aims for higher standards to gain an edge over competitors, the mystery shop evaluations should be altered to measure those efforts.
But that’s just the beginning.
It’s All About Buy-In
It’s not just about what is being evaluated but also how you engage your employees. It’s vital for everyone to understand the purpose of mystery shopping and the tangible value it brings to the business—and to themselves. Perhaps even more important, employees need to understand how the company uses the results of the mystery shops.
This commitment to transparency is critical to any successful mystery shopping program.
Transparency builds trust and brings about higher engagement and commitment levels from employees, which contributes to better customer interactions.
Buy-in from every level of your organization is the goal—especially regional and district managers. They’re on the front lines working directly with onsite team members and overseeing operations. Empower them with mystery shop results. Keep them intimately involved in reviewing assessments with employees and making decisions about improvement in training and operating procedures.
Trust them to help make change happen.
Recognize, Reward, Retain
According to Deloitte, high-recognition companies—those that give team members the ability to recognize their fellow employees through social reward systems and regular appreciation activities—have “31 percent lower voluntary turnover than companies with poor recognition cultures.”
For example, you might recognize onsite teams that are leading the way in customer experience or encouraging friendly competition across communities to improve follow-up efforts. These efforts go a long way toward getting employee buy-in, making your mystery shopping program more effective.
By prioritizing employee recognition and rewards, you’ll have a better chance of retaining the talent you want to keep. It’s a strategic investment, one that translates directly into the customer experience.
Take Progressive Action
It’s clear—mystery shops that are seen as “big brother” or “spies” and used to terminate or punish employees will produce the opposite effect of what companies are hoping to achieve. Rather, using the results to identify opportunities to improve and align training and operating standards will have a much broader—and more effective—impact on your organization, customer experience, and ROI.
One fundamental step is to assign upskill training where there are performance gaps. But to most effectively promote a positive culture and buy-in to a mystery shopping program, it’s important to promote what changes and improvements are made as a direct impact of the shop program. Progressive actions also can include:
- Identifying mentors and exemplary performers to help train and reinforce company standards
- Generating awareness and supporting change management efforts around important customer-experience related initiatives
- Promoting positive change around policies and training geared to improving client and employee satisfaction
The Grace Hill Validate mystery shopping solution can help deliver the insights and unbiased assessment you need to help bridge gaps in your culture, raise customer and resident satisfaction, and improve your community reputation.
We’ll examine more common missteps in the weeks to come, including how to use mystery shopping to optimize ROI, how to use results for the best possible outcomes, and the best way to refine shop assessments so that you continue to see improved property performance.
Hear from your peers about their mystery shopping experiences and what they’ve learned. And attend a live webinar to tour Grace Hill’s Validate solution and see how we put this industry knowledge into practice.
Misstep #3 coming in two weeks. Don’t miss it!