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9 things to do when you set up a mystery shopping project (01 Oct 09)

Always be clear about what you are measuring and what you want to find out

Try to stick to measuring clear and easily definable areas of services.

Avoid overly complicated scenarios designed to measure the effectiveness of whole services, such as Anti Social Behaviour services.

Instead use scenarios designed to measure specific aspects of a service such as the availability of clear information about Anti Social Behaviour, or the ease of making an appointment.

Ensure your shopping scenarios are relevant to the way your service is organised
To be a mystery shopper you have to invent an imaginary situation, or scenario which the shopper has to "act out". For example, "acting out" requesting information on repairs priorities, or asking for information about moving home.

Have a clear and relevant scoring system that reflects residentís priorities
Mystery shoppers score different aspects of services based on predetermined criteria. For example was the call answered promptly or were they polite? This can be scored on a simple Yes/No basis or on a 1-5 basis on different levels of promptness or politeness.

If your mystery shopping project is not based on priorities of residents you end up measuring things that donít affect customer satisfaction.

Ensure residents doing mystery shopping are fully trained and understand how to score services
Residents have to be trained to do mystery shops.

They have to know how to ask the questions and how to use the scoring system. This ensures that all shoppers are operating in a standard way so that the results are reliable.

Ensure staff are involved in developing the mystery shopping programme
If you donít involve staff they may feel threatened because they could feel they are being spied on.

To recruit residents offer an incentive for taking part

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