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Restaurant Mystery Shopper - is an Essential Business Tool

Jun 7, 2008
Without a doubt it is service that brings clients back for more. Whether you own a restaurant, bar, cafe or coffeehouse, you want your customers to leave happy, and you want them to come again.

However research shows that over 90% of your customers will not complain when they are dissatisfied and often you may not be aware of the 10% who do complain. Further more, dissatisfied customers will defect to your competition and will share their negative experience with up to ten of their friends and family.

Again, research shows that the main causes of customer dissatisfaction are:

- 69% poor customer service
- 13% poor product quality
- 9% competitive reasons
- 9% other

Considering that it costs five times more to attract a new customer than it does to keep an existing one it is essential to understand what your customers think about your services. One option is to hire a restaurant mystery shopper or shadow shopper.

This simple step can pay big dividends. There are a good many benefits to hiring a restaurant mystery shopper to regularly visit your business. Knowing what kind of service your customers are receiving is the key to identifying the strengths and weaknesses in the one on one interaction between staff and customers.

A good business manager understands that customers hold strong opinions of what kind of service they have received, whether they know it or not. This is arguably the single most important factor that they will walk away with once they leave your business. For example, say a customer walks into the restaurant and the food takes a long time to prepare, the coffee is too strong and the order turns out to be wrong. This could be a very bad experience for the customer and they may choose not to return. A good restaurant mystery shopper can pinpoint this lack of service for the business manager so that it can be improved upon, and new training or methods can be put into place at the appropriate level of business so that there will be fewer delays and mistakes.

What exactly is Restaurant Mystery Shopper Programme?

It is simply a highly effective performance management solution that might take the shape of a customer service evaluation, a benchmarking exercise; a customer satisfaction survey - any number of things.

The main point of Restaurant Mystery Shopper Programmes is that it helps you discover the facts behind your customer service standards, compliance and other front line activities and enables you to improve performance year on year to make sure that you are top of your game.

So how does it work?

The Restaurant Mystery Shopper 'acts' just like a real customer, but this can include a script of behaviour, questions to ask, complaints to give, purchases to make, and measures to record, such as time it takes to receive attention from an employee or receive a service, or the responses given to questions.

Great service is essential to business success. A restaurant mystery shopper can point out the good as well as the not so good. The happy humorous waitress might receive some well deserved praise, perhaps even a bonus as a result of the shopper and their glowing report. This kind of positive feedback tends to rub off on the other employees, who want to be noticed as well for doing a good job. The restaurant mystery shopper can be anyone, and they can come in at any time, so it compels your employees to always do their best. This is how you want your business to be represented, is it not? You want professional people who are happy and ready to assist your customers, and who genuinely care about meeting their needs. A restaurant mystery shopper can be an invaluable tool to help you keep your customers coming back again and again.

The difficulty most people have with Restaurant Mystery Shopper Programmes is how use the information it provides, so it is advisable to seek specialist advice on how to actually use the information. A specialist will provide tangible, "real life" recommendations to help you correct problems and improve your service. They will also be there to help you implement measurable and sustainable service improvement that will increase customer satisfaction, productivity and profitability.

How Can Restaurant Mystery Shopper Help You?

- Identify underlying operational problems that hinder service excellence

- Increase profits by revealing opportunities linked to service delivery

- Develop and implement realistic service standards that will improve overall service delivery

- Design specific training to meet the needs of managers and staff

- Encourage and reinforce positive service behaviours to build-on in areas that need improvement

- Access specific and detailed recommendations to take your business forwards

It's worth remembering that retaining your current customers is not only essential; it is the lifeblood of your business. A Restaurant Mystery Shopper Programme can prevent the loss of your hard-earned customers.
About the Author
Robert Bylett supports individuals and teams to buy and manage Food Services with confidence - to explore possibilities, makes choices and; create solutions that optimise performance, and maximise return on investment. Find out more at www.justconsultancy.com
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