How Grace Hill transformed everything about mystery shopping
If your mystery shopping program isn’t working for your organization, you’re not alone. When Grace Hill set out to design a new mystery shopping solution, we went out into the industry to talk to the people who it impacts most—mystery shop administrators and employees. We conducted client interviews and focus groups, and what we found was that mystery shopping has a pretty negative reputation in multifamily. We heard that shops require too much administrative work, employees feel stressed because they know when they’re being shopped, and remediation training covers huge amounts of material just for missing one question. Worst of all, we found that the way mystery shopping is currently conducted doesn’t produce an accurate picture of the resident experience.
Despite its reputation, however, mystery shopping is still an organization’s clearest insight into customer satisfaction. It’s the single best way to identify skill gaps and drive performance in order to generate happier residents and higher revenue. We knew that to unlock the potential of mystery shopping for multifamily, we would have to completely transform the mystery shopping experience.
Bringing the best back to multifamily
Almost every industry conducts mystery shopping, and some do it very successfully. The retail industry, for one, relies on mystery shopping. So Grace Hill did some investigating to find out what they’re doing right.
One of the companies we looked at closely is Ralph Lauren. Ralph Lauren runs a robust mystery shopping program to evaluate the retailers that sell their product lines. The first difference we noticed is that Ralph Lauren never orders a shop for a particular salesperson at a particular store because they know they won’t get an accurate reading on customer happiness that way. They want to know about everything a customer experiences when they walk into that store. Do the displays look good? Are people drawn to them? What is the overall customer service level regardless of the salesperson? Ralph Lauren would never order a shop for “Bob at the Abilene Dillard’s” because they know they can’t tell a customer to only talk to “Bob.” Customers are going to experience whoever is available at the moment they walk in.
More mystery for more accurate results
Prospective residents will judge your property based on whoever they encounter when they make a call or enter the front office, whether it’s a leasing agent, a call service, or a maintenance tech. To understand what residents and applicants are really experiencing, you need a good sampling of everything a resident could encounter. That’s the only way to identify gaps and generate higher revenue.
Grace Hill developed our new mystery shop program, Validate, around this central best practice. While you can always order additional individual shops when needed, Validate is constantly measuring every aspect of the customer experience at your properties. You’ll get a realistic overall assessment of property appearance, in-person customer service, and writing and telephone skills. And leasing agents won’t know they’re being shopped because it’s happening all the time.
Another common complaint we heard about mystery shopping was the heavy administrative burden. It often falls on one person to figure out where, when, and how shops will be conducted. There is constant back and forth with the regional manager and general manager to coordinate scheduling and deliver invoices.
We designed Validate to eliminate all the excess administration. Validate automatically generates the shops you need each quarter. There’s no back and forth with management to target specific people. Shops are conducted on a regular basis through multiple channels without anyone having to manage it. You can just set it and forget it. Even budgeting is simplified with consistent monthly payments. There’s no budget guesswork for last-minute shops.
Efficient, targeted training
Validate is the first mystery shop program to offer skill-level training remediation. Using business intelligence, Validate automatically analyzes shop results and recommends a learning path of targeted, 15-minute courses. With the click of a button, admins can assign the specific short courses that will address any skill deficiencies identified. Employees no longer have to feel they’re wasting time relearning skills they already have. And admins no longer have to spend hours assessing mystery shop results to figure out which skills learners lack and which courses they need to take.
Check the pulse on customer happiness
Customer happiness has become more visible than ever. From online reviews to social media comments, your current customers influence your future customers. That’s why it’s so important to have a consistent read on customer satisfaction. Mystery shopping is your most reliable line of sight on what customers are experiencing. And now Validate makes mystery shopping faster and easier – with more accurate results.
Schedule a Validate Demo to find out how we take the guesswork and stress out of assessing and improving the customer experience.