Secret Shop Your Way to Better Customer Service

By Paul Selby


Photo by Felipe Furtado on

Customer journey mapping is critical to understanding where friction points exist and to chart the most effortless experience for customers. It includes the entire lifecycle, from customers first becoming aware of a product or service and their use through to non-use. It’s a very formal process involving the many departments that participate in the customer lifecycle (marketing, sales, and finance, just to name a few); because of the many functions involved, it can seem like an overwhelming task to create a cross-functional task force to take this all on.

Even simply mapping a subset of that journey such as what occurs in customer service activities is a serious undertaking. Consider the myriad of questions and issues customers contact your service center for, across your multiple available channels. It quickly becomes a spider web of intentions, actions, and results to evaluate.

Yet as lengthy and complex as customer journey mapping might seem in its entirety or in part, it’s important to constantly evolve and improve the customer experience, fully end-to-end or focusing on a specific segment like customer service. Customer experience is the new competitive battlefield, after all.

Don’t allow the sheer size of such an undertaking daunt you. Instead, consider an alternative: a targeted secret shopping approach. Secret shopping isn’t just for purchasing products or services in retail stores; the concept works equally well to evaluate a company’s other customer-facing processes. Simplifying the process will ensure a greater chance of success and improvement.

Identify the target

Start by selecting a single customer service issue to address. How do you choose from the myriad of issues customers contact you about? Consider these:

  • An issue that takes agents a particularly long time to address
  • An issue that across-the-board receives low customer satisfaction scores
  • A high-volume issue

Any one of these will do. For the sake of illustration, let’s imagine you are investigating the process of registering a product warranty.

Next, select the engagement channel. This could be telephone, chat, email, or others. Though multiple channels could be evaluated, it’s easier and faster to evaluate a single channel at a time–you can always go back and review others later. For our warranty registration scenario, we will use the customer service website on a mobile device as the engagement channel.

Take it all in

With the customer situation and engagement channel selected, it’s time to put yourself in the customer role and set sail on your micro-journey. Like an explorer, record everything about the journey: the time taken from start to finish, the steps taken, and even how you feel along the way.

Going back to our example, we can assume the customer will start by performing some kind of search on your customer service website for how to register for their warranty. This could involve exploring the website menus, performing a site-wide search, or even using an outside search engine. Search brings its own set of unique challenges and potential frustrations. When searching on the customer service website itself, how close are …read more

Read more here:: B2CMarketingInsider

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