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Derrick Woolfson

Derrick Woolfson Business Development

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Top Reasons Mystery Shops Don't Work

Phone call quality is incredibly important, right? I mean the way your service advisor answers the phone - handling the customer - shapes the way the customer views your Service Department. 

So it is no wonder why dealers hire mystery shoppers or phone call quality experts to help them! The problem, however, is that all too often the GM or Service Managers are not on the same page or do not buy into the program. So then why would the advisor? It starts from the top and works itself down to the bottom. 

Here are the top reasons mystery shopping doesn’t work: 

What’s the end-goal? 

The trainer is not always the one to blame. In most cases, the dealer hires a training company who offers them a “fix.” That is training the advisors how to answer the phone, get the appointment, and most importantly - sell services! This all sounds fantastic, right? The idea that after having a trainer come in that your ROI will have a notable difference in the next month. But that is not how it works. 

If you do not have a clear expectation for what the mystery shopping will do for your service lane, then it becomes nearly impossible to track results. Not to mention, as a GM or Service Manager you might become frustrated with the program. All of which translates to the Service Advisor. 

Their Goals Aren’t Your Goals 

One training session is not going to fix all the issues. Most importantly, as mentioned above the change happens from the top down. That is the owner & GM being on the same page as to what the process is and should be at the dealer level. 

The trainer should use their materials in a way that compliments your process. Otherwise, you are sending mixed signals to the team which can cause a lack of interest or disengagement. That said, to have buy-in from the Service Manager I would offer that you ask him/her how you can help their team improve. Asking what some breakpoints are and how they can be addressed. 

Take a minute, and look at it from their perspective (with your thoughts), and this will help ensure that they feel a part of the process. Otherwise, they will become disengaged, which will be evident (again) to the service advisors. Not to mention, as the GM you too will become frustrated with the lack of improvement which can also cause a lot of dissension. 

Every Shop is the Same 

If your shopper fills out the same form, with the same questions, with the same process each and every time it becomes more apparent than the ever. And while there is the age-old argument of “if they know it is a shop they should knock it out of the park” it doesn’t work. The advisor feels beat down or worse - they feel like they are missing out on an actual opportunity to earn money. 

One of the things that a dealer should consider is paying their advisor to take the training for the day. So they do not feel as if they are “losing,” but rather you are investing in them. Offering them that you are cognizant of their being concerned with losing opportunities. However suggesting that the training will only help them increase their revenue.  

Coaching inbound calls 

This one is always the *trickiest* in that - in most cases - the Advisor is not *focused* on the customer whose on the phone. Instead, they are focused on what is in the lane in front of them. The customer who is standing at the counter also feels this pain. That said, the coach should offer two different types of critique. The first being that if they are on the phone (and a client pulls up), they gently address the customer letting them know that they will be with them shortly. 

The other being that if they do have a customer in the lane to get the customers information on the phone. Informing them that they will call them back in just a few minutes. The goal in this scenario is to offer excellent customer service to both customers. 

Bottom Line 

Before hiring a mystery shop or training company, the GM should write/jot down a list of items that they believe should be addressed. Have the Service Manager do the same. Compare the two lists and offer each person's perspectives. Working together to select which items take precedence. At that point, collaborate with a trainer & mystery shop company that understands your goals. Remembering that you shouldn't *bend* to their model. Instead, they need to work for *YOU*! 

Do you mystery shop your service lane? If so, what kind of pushback did you get, and how did you overcome that with your team? Do you think Mystery Shopping is a bust? 

R. J. James

Derrick... You are so right, "It starts from the top and works itself down to the bottom."  The other part is People Respect what You Inspect and too often management does not: (1) set a measurable performance expectation, (2) follow-up with a regular results monitoring process, and (3) reinforce the training with ongoing coaching.


Derrick Woolfson

@R.J. - thanks! I think that all too often management (especially within our industry) want a "magic" quick fix. And sometimes you just have to get back to the basics. Changing not just the way you view things, but also having an open mind as well to what the trainers can offer you. 

Tori Zinger

Oh, I love that mantra, R.J. 

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