You may have read the articles that came out recently that addressed the Federal Government’s plans to call different physician practices as a prospective patient. These callers would not have asked questions for the true purpose of learning the answer or becoming a patient. These are mystery shoppers. These are individuals who call to see how certain questions are answered and how certain policies are applied.
Essentially what the Federal Government wanted to do was to determine if some physician practices are turning away patients or delaying their access to care/appointments if they do not have a preferred form of health insurance. It wanted to use these mystery shoppers to identify people who are not doing essentially what they’re supposed to be doing.
It’s interesting that many companies use mystery shopping in this “gotcha” manner. This is why so many employees are negative toward mystery shopping. They feel like it is something being done to catch employees doing wrong. Staff feel like the only reason why they’re being shopped is so they can be caught and dealt with in some kind of a punitive manner.
But mystery shopping done effectively tries to gauge consistency of service, responses, and processes across the organization, from person-to-person and facility-to-facility. Mystery shopping done right tries to identify what internal best practices exist so that they can be leveraged across the organization. Mystery shopping done right identifies organizations do great, and what organizations need to improve upon. And mystery shopping done right also includes sometimes contacting your company’s competitors to see where you have a competitive edge and where you’re falling short through the customer’s eyes.
So while we understand the Federal Government trying to identify who is doing things in the most appropriate way, we encourage you to have a broader perspective in the use of mystery shopping. Use mystery shopping to reward, recognize, find internal best practices, find areas which are opportunities for improvement, and find ways to beat your competitors.
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