Episode 116 : The Art of Designing and Implementing a Mystery Shopper Programme

Claire Boscq Scott is a wonderful entrepreneur and she is a mystery shopping and Customer Service specialist. Claire lives to inspire global businesses to thrive by delivering exceptional customer experiences in measuring and improving employees’ performances.

No. 5 Top 30 Global Customer Service GuruUK Top 10 CX Influencer and CX Thought Leader 2020, with three decades of expertise in mystery shopping and customer service, Claire, AKA The Busy Queen Bee, is an authority in the Customer Experience industry. She brings a more holistic and comprehensive approach to employee and customer experience.

She is a Keynote Speaker, Consultant & trainer specializing in retail and hospitality. Author of 3 books, Thrive with the HiveThriving by Caring and launched in September 2020, No 1 Amazon Best Seller and Hot New Release in customer service; The Secret Diary of a Mystery Shopper. Her online Learning and Development platform BQB CX Institute offers a wide range of online and onsite training and has developed her Caring Service Culture Leadership Programme a game changer for many organizations who want to become truly customer centric.

Questions

  • Could you share a little bit about your journey for us? I know that I read your bio and it was just amazingly fantastic. We like to hear from our guests, a little bit about their journey, how it is that you got into what you’re doing today, into mystery shopping, into being a customer experience thought leader, a little about how you got to where you are today.
  • You have quite a few books as it relates to customer experience and mystery shopping as we read when we’re reading your bio. But your most recent book that you published earlier this year right at the onset of COVID is The Secret Diary of a Mystery Shopper. So could you tell us a little bit about that book? Who is it for? And also, I think it’s important to also if you could share with us, persons think mystery shopping is only for companies that are big, large organizations. What is your idea on that? Do you think everybody needs to do mystery shopping? And can it be done on a small scale versus a large scale? And how do you approach it?
  • How have you seen customer experience evolve or not evolve? I’ve seen that and I think it’s gotten worse as a result of the pandemic. I think customers are paying more attention to how they’re being served, especially how they’re being treated when they enter your establishment, and the pandemic has brought that more to the forefront. Of course, I know it can be more cultural in some countries or in some regions. What has it been like in your areas?
  • Could you share with us maybe what’s the one online resource, tool, website or app that you absolutely can’t live without in your business?
  • Could you share with us maybe one or two books that have had the biggest impact on you?
  • Could you share with us one thing that’s going on in your life right now that you’re really excited about? It could be something that you’re working on to develop yourself or something you’re working on to develop your people.
  • Where can listeners find you online?
  • Do you have a quote or a saying that during times of adversity or challenge, you’ll tend to revert to this quote; it kind of helps to keep you focused or just get you back on track if you feel like you are getting derailed.

Highlights

Claire’s Journey

Claire mentioned that the similar background as Yanique. Her dad had a restaurant, so she kind of grew up in that environment and when you’re in that environment, you either love it or hate it, so she loves that. She loves the interaction with customers. She loves seeing people having fun. And so she did her catering school, hotel and service management hospitality in Nice, down the south of France. And so she’s French originally.

And then she knew she had to speak English. She had to be able to speak better English if she wanted to do something with her life. So, she made it a mission to try to find a job somewhere she could speak English. And she found this little tiny island right across the Somalo between France and England, which is called Jersey. And that was her very first time in Jersey when she was just 18 years old, young girl, just coming out of catering school. And so, she did a few seasons. She was doing the ski resort seasons in France and then Jersey in the summer. And then she went and work at Disney World in Florida.

So that was 25 years ago, that was her very first serious approach on customer experience and what truly the word means about customer experience and employee experience. And anybody who’s worked out there, 25 years ago seems like it was a couple of months ago. They had such an incredible time in terms of the training and terms of the environment, in terms of everything that is done in the organization, it really is to put the customers in the middle of everything that they do. So when she came back from America after a year working there, she knew she wanted to continue in that path. And so she continued in hotels and started managing hotels. And she moved back to Jersey on this little island when she first came when she was 18 to actually run the hotel, she went there to be a little receptionist a few years before, which was interesting.

So very much in the receiving end of the service industry, very much in the receiving end in trying to help their customers and really kind of delivering those great service. And about 11 years ago, she used to work in a hotel which was a UK group, and they had mystery guest and those guests had to be flown over from the UK to actually be able to perform mystery guests.

And she was thinking, “Well, surely we should be able to do that locally.” and she realized that at the time there was no one on their little island which was doing the mystery shopping, so the measurement of customer experience. And that’s all it all started really, a little idea thinking, “Well, perhaps I could do that.” And so, she handed her notice in, she sold her house, she got divorced and she started her own business and that was it. Well, if you’re going to do it, you may as well do everything at once.

The core of the business was measuring the customer satisfaction and the employee performances, of course. And as you do the measurement and as you help the companies, your clients to analyze results, you realize there’s a lot of gaps in the businesses. So you realize that really they haven’t got some great standard, they don’t really understand what the customer experience is about or the customer journey. They have no employee experience mapping in their toolbox. They’re training the staff, but they’re not really training them regularly or consistently or with the right materials. So, there’s a lot of work needed to be done before you could actually measure. And so, over the years, from really doing the mystery shopping, which is almost the last part of it, she started helping the businesses throughout the whole employee and customer strategy.

Who is Mystery Shopping Really For?

Can It Be Done on a Small Scale vs. Large Scale?

Claire agreed and stated that she thinks that’s mystery shopping is probably one of the easiest way and quickest way to really realize where you are at this moment in time is in terms of your performances in your business.

You could pull CX strategy, it could take four months, six months before you start embedding things and implementing trainings and new strategies and you start seeing some changes. With mystery shopping, it’s a measurement, so you’re creating a questionnaire where you want to really see what the objectives of these are about, were you’re trying to achieve. And then you’re sending out mystery shoppers, they’re answering the questions and there you go. 

Within 48 hours, really, you can have some results and you can start being able to improve areas, celebrating success of course, you always want to celebrate success, but improving areas which are potentially being identified as needed a little bit of TLC.

So, mystery shopping, yes, very much. For a very long time, it’s been seen as a large organization and possibly also bricks and mortar, so retail industry rather than anyone else. Potentially, yes, hospitality as well, you got the hotel inspectors kind of things, but it has very, very much grew, and especially with this year a huge boom into different communications, because suddenly we were not face to face.

Suddenly we were all online, suddenly we were using WhatsApp, suddenly we were using some new communications channels that we never had before or very, very small amount of people were.

So it really started to think, “Well, actually, well, if we are communicating with our customers this way, we also need to measure this way. So, your website needs to be looked at, when is the last time you’ve actually read your website? When is the last time you’ve actually pressed on the buttons of your website to see what is working, what isn’t working? And how long does it take for an inquiry to come to you? How do you answer to the customers? What are the words you are using?

And so, all those things which are the journey mapping and when we talk about journey mapping, whether it’s online, on the phone or face to face, it’s exactly the same. And whether you’re soloproneur or a large organization, you need to know what is happening in your business and how you’re delivering the services or the promise of your services. How is it fulfilled?

So there are a lot of new areas, which is a reason why she has published a book as well. Claire stated that she guess Yanique has got quite a few stories as well in her little handbag of good service, bad service, those kinds of things.

So, she has had this book, she has been keeping stories of mystery shoppers been incredible over the years, so she thought, isn’t it just a perfect opportunity that we have the pandemic and businesses are looking at what they’re doing and how they’re doing it, to give some ideas on what is good, what doesn’t look good, what you should be doing and what you shouldn’t be doing.

So, The Secret Diary of a Mystery Shopper kind of says it all on the title. They are true stories from mystery shoppers, some stories were from people who had given her some stories of good service and some stories are the bad stories and also the exceptional stories, because she believes positive breeds positive.

So, it show things are going well, you can show things where they’ve done an amazing job here, give people the ideas and thinking, “Oh, well, if they can do it, I can do it, too.” So, that’s why The Secret Diary of a Mystery Shopper was published and very, very quickly it was in her head. She’s seen, she’s written, she’s seen herself on stage doing that keynote and talking about it and doing that. She even thinks it should be a great series.

So, you learn by stories better because people can relate and use that as well on your website, we connect on an emotional level. And so, if you’re connecting with customers, whether it’s a good emotions or whether it’s bad emotions, your customers will remember you for sure.

Me: So, basically, to sum up what you’ve said, you’re basically saying that mystery shopping is something that all organizations should do. And even if you do it on a small scale, just to get an idea of what is happening, because I find a lot of executives are totally disconnected from what’s happening on the ground with their actual customers, especially if they don’t make it an intentional act of theirs to interface as a customer themselves, whether to call the business as you said, or visit the website and click on a few buttons or even shop with the business, go in as a regular customer to a branch that you probably would have never visited before to have that experience yourself, because then you’ll understand why your customers complain, what are some of the pain points they’re having and where are the opportunities that exist that could be improved? Maybe some are low hanging fruit things that you could change effective immediately and so may require a little bit more investment and thought.

Claire agreed and shared that one thing that she has done as well during the pandemic, obviously with no face to face, she has created an online course on how to set up a mystery shopping program because she has seen a lot of clients locally, smaller businesses who they had conversation with and said, “Clair, I’d love to do it, but I can’t afford your pricing. I can’t afford to get an organization to do it for me.”

And so they go off and then they put a little questionnaire together, they’ll ask their friend and family to do it. And then it comes back with not very good responses, they come back with moans rather than objective responses. And so they think, “Oh, well, that thing doesn’t work.” And then they let it go and they’re not getting the right information.

So, she put that program together to actually help the smaller organization, so they can do it right and they can follow the steps. She gave templates of a mystery shopping questionnaire, she shows them how they should train their friends and family if they’re going to use friend and family, there’s a little video on how to be a mystery shopper. And so those kinds of things are important, you need to know what is going on in your organization otherwise, how do you manage it? It’s an important part of that customer experience strategy. Absolutely.

How Has Customer Experience Evolved or Not Evolved as a Result of the Pandemic?

Claire shared that she thinks the first thing that it has brought to the company; they straight away got into a fire fighting mode where everything gets dropped off. So, for her, she lost all her clients in three days and it was quite remarkable and quite a shock in thinking, actually. Is it really what you should be doing?

When there’s something where people are going to need more help and support, should you be letting go all the training, should you be letting go all the exercises and the help, the support you’re giving so you can actually give even better customer service during a pandemic? But, you can understand people, and she thinks that’s the biggest problem in a kind of a bigger challenge is really, it’s that CX or EX employee experience and customer experience isn’t seen as a benefit, but as a cost.

So, a company will stop that because they see it as a cost rather than seeing it, wow, our employees are going to need more support, they need more training on how to handle those customers who are scared, how to handle customers who are going to be shouting, how can we give them some emotional intelligence training? How can we teach them a bit of resilience? How can we teach them a bit of mindfulness so they can actually feel better in themselves?

So, there are a lot of things that really could be done and should have been done and some companies have been absolutely incredible by the way they’ve turned things up and certainly have moved from the customer experience being in the forefront to the employee experience coming at the forefront. And that for her is an important part of it, because if we have no employees, if the employees aren’t feeling well, if they’re not happy, if they’re not content, if they don’t feel valued and cared for, they won’t care for your customers.

So businesses need to bring more care into what they do, they really do need to bring more care into the organization. And she always talked about the Yin and Yang so she always has a bit of a holistic approach to CX. And the Yang energy, it’s not, “Let’s do it. Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go. More figures, more sales, more this, more that.” Whereas, we need to bring a little bit of that Yang energy where we actually pause and we actually ask our employee how they feeling today, we go and see our customers and we shake their hands and we remember their names and we connect with them on an emotional level. And that’s really the difference between the Yin energy and not caring energy and that Yang energy, which is all that pandemic scarcity and anxiety, then everybody’s trying to fire fight against.

App, Website or Tool that Claire Absolutely Can’t Live Without in Her Business

When asked about an online resource that she can’t live without, Claire shared that her personal business, she uses OneNote, which is part of Microsoft’s 365. And she has been using it for quite a few years now. And she walks a lot in the morning, she goes for almost 45 minutes, 50 minutes walk in the morning so she can make some notes, she can copy paste, and she can write a speech. OneNote has been something really, really incredible. She uses it absolutely every day. And the last few months, obviously with a pandemic as well, she has been doing a lot of videos and a lot of video recording and she has been using a software called Camtasia.

So, she’s going to send Yanique The Queen Bee Christmas message that she just recorded and then you’ll see how she actually have done with that on Camtasia. And she’s really getting the hang of it and thinks videos are very, very powerful way to get ourselves more visible, more credible, more likeable, people relate to you when they see you and you’re able to share message. And it’s that visual and you can also add a bit of music and all that kind of thing. So, there’s a real something about video that makes it quite powerful.

Books That Have Had the Greatest Impact on Claire

When asked about books that have had the biggest impact, Claire shared that the obviously The Secret Diary of a Mystery Shopper, pull that one in. Claire shared that she is a Feng Shui practitioner. So for her, just the same for her, but she brings Feng Shui into the environment of their clients. So, again, the environment will affect where people perform, if you feel good in your environment, you will deliver great, amazing service. If it’s dark, if there are no colours, if it’s cluttered everywhere, no one’s going to perform the way they should be.

So, she discovered Feng Shui probably about 10 years ago now. And one of the books that really got her going was Move Your Stuff, Change Your Life: How to Use Feng Shui to Get Love, Money, Respect, and Happiness by Karen Rauch Carter. And it was very simple, so it was more of a European Weil Feng Shui. And then she went on, she had got trained with Davina McKale, who is Feng Shui Master. And so she has developed quite a lot of the Feng Shui in her leadership program. When she does a big program with organization, they will look at the culture, they will look at the environment, they will look at people and they will look at a customer. So those are the four areas where she really, really focuses when they do a big program on CX. So it’s a great book to read. So, started with the Feng Shui, that’s a really simple and really easy way to get started.

What Claire is Really Excited About Now!

Claire shared that the idea that The Secret Diary of a Mystery Shopper was kind of a catalyst to start for her, a repositioning in terms of her keynote speaking, in terms of her consultancy, because there’s quite a lot of CX experts out there and everybody seems to be doing CX at the moment, which is great. It’s really good because you kind of bring a whole new forces and a whole new energy in terms of people wanting to help.

But she really wanted to reposition the mystery shopping as the key part of what she does. So her new keynote is can you afford to be clueless about your customer service? So, she’s doing a new keynote with the book, she’s preparing next year, possibly doing a audible book with a new story, more stories. And the idea is also to share the book, translate it in different countries and actually add more stories with the different countries that they talk to. So, there are a few things that are in the pipeline that she’s got for next year.

Where Can We Find Claire Online

Instagram – @claireboscqscott

Twitter – @cbsbusyqueenbee

LinkedIn – Claire Boscq-Scott

Facebook – ClaireBoscqScott

Website – www.busyqueenbee.com

Quote or Saying that During Times of Adversity Claire Uses

When asked about a quote or saying that helps her to keep focus, Claire shared her kind of strapline is bringing more care into what you do, bringing more care into your employees, your environment and your customers, and you will have a thriving business and she thinks that’s an important part. We do get busy, on the busy, busy side of it but if that pandemic has showed us something is, if we don’t care for our employees, well, they’re never going to perform, they’re going to be working remotely and not feeling any love from anybody. And so it’s really important that we really care for our environment, for our people, and then our customers.

Me: It’s funny you mentioned that because when I started this business, the vision for the company is “To Create a More Caring World” but the reason why I came up with that tagline is, when I was a little girl, I used to watch this cartoon on Disney Channel called the Care Bears and they all have these little different care symbols on their tummies and when they shine their light on everybody, it transforms them into being more kind or more generous. And that was my vision for when I started business that at the end of the day, whatever I’m doing with a business whether it’s through market research, mystery shopping, customer service training, leadership training, it all should be with the mindset that I’m trying “To Create a More Caring World” like a care bear. So, it’s really nice to know that we may not have thought of it from the same perspective, but we definitely have the same goal in mind.

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