June 7, 2017

Your customers are not your mystery-shoppers

customer voice feedback

I sometimes find that when designing feedback surveys, businesses mistake their paying customers for paid mystery shoppers. The tell-tale signs are when the questions revolve around things I might or might not have noticed as I was shopping, for example, posters displaying special offers. Or when I am asked to comment on behavior that staff are required to show (this question lifted from a survey I completed recently) “Did the Staff Member greet you in a warm and friendly manner, introduce themselves by name and make you feel comfortable?”

The thing is, I’m a busy person, and I start to feel a bit grumpy when I’m expected to spend 10 minutes filling in a form that serves someone else’ agenda. A form that takes me down a long and winding path, based entirely on assumptions about what MIGHT matter to me, without ever giving me a chance to spell out what ACTUALLY matters to me.

That doesn’t make me feel like you value my time or my opinion at all.

When it comes to feedback survey design, I’m a big believer in keeping it simple. Keeping it short. Much better to ask 5 great, open-ended questions than 15 dull ones that take me nowhere. A well-constructed survey should provide the scaffolding for your customers to give you all the rich data you need, in a way you can digest, but it should also give your customers some space in which to roam – a forum for them to speak freely about what matters to them.

The secret to survey success is finding a way to give your customers the opportunity to tell you about their experiences on their terms, and giving your staff the opportunity to hear and learn from that feedback.

Apply some thought to your survey design and you will reap the benefits, because feedback collected thoughtfully and with an open mind is likely to be far more valuable, authentic and insightful than any mystery shopping report.

And in future, if you’re going to enlist your customers as mystery shoppers, you might want to think about paying them.

Julia Forsyth CEO

Julia Forsyth, CEO






Follow Julia on Twitter and Linkedin

June 7, 2017