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Misstep #3: Ignoring ROI Optimization

Posted on July 6, 2021

Julie Gardner

Pause for just a minute.

Think about everything you’ve poured your valuable time and budget into: targeted marketing programs; detailed onboarding and mentoring; and developing policies, procedures, and training to better enable your teams and create more loyal customers.

Spending more on a mystery shopping program to assess, test, and improve standards is a good move toward making the most of your investment. But too many multifamily companies overlook necessary steps to develop and execute their mystery shop programs, resulting in deflated ROI.

This week, we’ll explore another common misstep in multifamily mystery shopping—ignoring ROI optimization—and share some simple and effective ways to combat it.

Explore Your Why

Simon Sinek writes, “Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. By WHY I mean your purpose, cause or belief – WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?”

What is your “why” as you examine implementing a mystery shop program? Do you want to improve your properties’ reputation through social media and online reviews? You might want to upgrade your selling techniques and training methods. Or you could be focused on building a best-in-class company culture and a more productive work environment.

All of the above help lay the foundation for top-notch customer experience—which just happens to be the #1 driver of healthy ROI (as explored in Blog #2).

Ask the Right Questions

Once you know why you’re mystery shopping, take a hard look at how you’re going about it.

Start by examining your survey questions. Do they measure the activities that influence customer satisfaction? Simply asking, “Were they wearing a nametag?” won’t cut it. Questions should be focused on measuring customer engagement, condition of the community/model/office, consistent, non-discriminatory service, and so on.

Next, double-check that the standards you’re measuring reflect the unique expectations you’ve set for your organization–the set of behaviors, values, and beliefs that make up your company culture and how your customers experience your brand. 

Bottom line: If your survey questions aren’t directly tied to your company goals and strategies of improving customer experience and satisfaction, then mystery shops can’t help you achieve higher ROI.

Aim for Random Acts of Mystery Shopping

Targeting “every location, every month, every employee” in a predictable manner has been shown to result in spending more on mystery shopping than is necessary—with little return in the way of long-term performance improvement. You risk your mystery shop not being a mystery at all and wind up assessing how your teams behave when they know they are being tested, versus getting an accurate picture of the typical customer experience.

Instead, take a randomized, programmatic approach to help optimize ROI. This carries the least risk of error, produces the most accurate and reliable insights, promotes buy-in and fairness (because everyone has an equal chance of being selected), and enables you to apply findings to the entire population you’re surveying.

The randomized method, conducted regularly, creates an internal benchmark and allows you to identify underperforming locations or markets that you can then focus on.

Shop All Channels

Rather than just focusing on the customer experience online or as a walk-in, you’ll want to shop all channels through which customers interact with your brand throughout the leasing process (virtual, call-in, etc.).

The idea is to proactively look for opportunities to improve the customer experience and uncover issues through shoppers before your customers do, ultimately protecting reputation management and social presence.

Use Technology to Trim Costs

As with any program, overhead costs of running a mystery shopping have a significant impact on ROI.

Sure, you want—and need—administrative help, but you also want to make sure you’re using their time wisely on tasks that add value to the program.

Utilizing the right technology will free up hours spent on nominal tasks while streamlining and automating administrative functions. Your mystery shopping solution should create a programmatic approach where shops can be automatically ordered on a regular cadence—no manual administration necessary.

Automated report distribution capabilities notify managers and admins when shops are ready to be reviewed and provides all necessary information to conduct the review process with employees.

Beyond technology, it’s a good idea to conduct periodic reviews so assessments can be kept relevant and useful and repeatedly raise the bar on service quality and employee performance.

Get on the Same Page

Using mystery shops to single-out or reprimand individual employees means you can expect company culture to erode. Lack of buy-in from onsite teams and managers is one of the quickest ways to erode culture—and shrink the ROI of mystery shopping.

What if there’s a dispute over results? It’s important to be somewhat flexible. Allow some subjectivity in score adjustments to ensure the results appropriately reflect the company standards, integrity, and maintain employee buy-in, which,as stated before, is critical to getting the most ROI possible. With Validate, admins can do this on their own without any back and forth. If scoring errors are found, we will resolve those disputes within 24-48 hours and work with our clients to modify survey instructions or questions to minimize those disputes in the future.

Protect Your Investment

We know how much you’ve invested in your organization’s success. Rest assured, our Validate solution was developed to protect this investment—always with your ROI in mind.

Validate features built-in efficiencies that keep your operation running smoothly, your mystery shopping program randomized and fair, and your results less biased to help maintain data integrity.

See it in action during our live webinar July 21 at 1pm ET. You can tour Validate firsthand, hear from your peers, and delve into best practices that boost operational performance.

Next week, we’ll explore another topic related to mystery shop ROI—-how to apply results. Watch for “Misstep #4” where we’ll discuss:

  • The importance of applying results across the entire organization
  • Why it’s critical to not focus on achieving a score of 100% 
  • How to incorporate upskill training 
  • How to avoid getting fixated on scores
  • And more!

Chat with us via Gracie to learn more about Validate and to set up a personalized demo. Or, call us at 866-GRACEHILL. 

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