Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Telephone Mystery Shopping At Work

Employees and supervisors can hear the tone of the conversations

Lake Sunapee Bank ($670 million, Newport, New Hampshire) has taken its existing mystery shopping program up a notch, says Angie Deschenes, VP/Retail Banking.
“We’ve done in-person and telephone mystery shops for years, but new technology recently became available so that we could conduct recorded telephone mystery shops.”
The recorded mystery shops have allowed the bank to take a candid look at how employees sound on the phone.

Recordings help staff hear how they can improve

The bank’s recorded telephone shopping program began about two months ago in an effort to boost the usefulness of every shop.
“In some cases we had a discrepancy of how the shop went between the shopper and the employee,” she says.
Plus, the recorded mystery shops help employees judge their own performance.
“Sometimes it’s difficult to know how you sound on the phone,” says Deschenes.
“Maybe you need to be more energetic or sound more confident. The recorded mystery shop allows us to closely examine how we sound and learn from the shop.”
She says the bank contracts with Customer Perspectives (Hooksett, New Hampshire) for a certain number of shops per branch per year.
“I don’t know when the shops will occur, but we receive an e-mailed report from Customer Perspectives with details of the shop and each recorded phone conversation.”
Prior to launching the recorded phone mystery shops, the bank explained to employees why it was introducing this technology and then got each employee’s permission.
“Everyone signed a waiver. We explained that we would not share their shop with others and that it would be a one-on-one educational experience with their own supervisor.
“We wanted the employees to know that this would be strictly for training and reflection purposes and to help them deliver the best customer service possible.”
A typical waiver signed by employees is shown on the following page.

Recorded shops also help bank evaluate shoppers

Deschenes says another benefit of the recorded shops is that she can evaluate the techniques used by the vendor’s mystery shopper.
“I can determine if the shopper is savvy and understands financial products,” she says. “Knowing this allows me to request the same shopper to return.”
She adds that the recordings also provide an opportunity to review the shopper’s initial pitch.
“If I see that one shopper seems to be delivering the same scenario over and over again we can identify it and change that.”
Once she has reviewed a shop she forwards the conversation to the shopped employee’s supervisor.
“The supervisor reviews the shop and then schedules a one-on-one meeting with the employee to review the shop together.
“We’ve found that people are uncomfortable hearing their own voice but once they get past the initial shock, the employee has the opportunity to self critique.
“During the one-on-one meeting, the supervisor might ask the employee what he or she liked or didn’t like about the shop,” says Deschenes.
“We want the employee to be the one to critique and then the supervisor can help with any changes or solutions.”

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