High turnover rates and a part-time staff can make developing and maintaining exceptional customer service a challenge. Most restaurants recognize this and take steps to overcome it either by training new staff members to deliver expected levels of service or by hiring mystery shoppers to ensure employees are delivering a great customer experience.
While both tactics are customer service essentials, as stand-alone programs they are not always enough to create consistent, customer-focused behavior.
The most effective, comprehensive customer service programs train employees to behave in specific, measurable ways. The restaurant then uses an evaluation method, like mystery shopping, to assess staff on the behaviors they are taught in training.
Combining these two programs not only encourages employees to take training seriously, but allows managers to take immediate action by adjusting overall training or working with an individual employee, based on the mystery shopping results.
As with any change, combining training and mystery shopping as one program can cause apprehension among employees. Here are some tips, gleaned from working with restaurants, for implementing a program that encourages positive results:
Be up front with your employees and managers about your mystery-shopping program
It may come as a surprise, but often staff members embrace mystery-shopping evaluations, particularly when they know what to expect and when they are rewarded for good results.
Let them know how they will be evaluated
By aligning mystery shopping with a training program, employees know precisely how they will be evaluated. This eliminates concern and makes employees responsible for their own behaviors, positive or negative.
Leverage technology to pinpoint issues quickly
The mystery shopping industry has come a long way since handwritten reports that took a month to turn around. It's important to find a mystery-shopping partner that can deliver data in a real-time, easy-to-use format, enabling restaurants to pinpoint and manage issues quickly before they escalate. Ensure your provider can offer actionable results. Many mystery-shopping companies can text message a store manager after a low score is turned in, supplying an opportunity to immediately fix a mistake.
Share outcomes of restaurant and individual mystery shops with staff members
The results from mystery shops are the best training tools a restaurant can have at its disposal. This specific, third-party review of an employee's performance allows managers to provide objective feedback and either recognition or additional coaching.
Position mystery shopping in a positive light
It's essential to emphasize that mystery shopping is not a way to catch employees making mistakes, rather a way to recognize and reward employees for doing things correctly. Make the process fun by creating contests or challenges between restaurants and celebrating individual and group successes.
Stand behind the results
Make it clear that shop scores are non-negotiable and that customer perception is what matters. This reinforces both the mystery shopping and training program and creates consistent behavior. If a restaurant makes it easy for staff members to be exceptional employees, they will rise to the occasion.