What Mystery Calling Means

Zelos launched a mystery calling service in 2012 when a new manager for our government client asked for help. He wanted to gain a better understanding of how his staff delivered service to customers by phone so that he could identify opportunities to improve and monitor performance over time. By design, our service is not meant to be punitive; the goal is to improve staff’s capability and desire to provide exceptional customer service experience.

How It Works

Zelos hires and trains local people of varying ages and backgrounds to call the organization of choice with a scenario and then document the answers in a custom-built online documentation system. We customize the types of information we collect to meet the client’s specific needs. With the client’s help, we develop scenarios that are based on typical questions or complaints that the organization receives. Typical measurements include: the number of times the phone rings, the greeting, the first response to the scenario, the detailed questions and responses of the conversation, the overall customer service rating and accompanying explanation, and the length of time of the call. We analyze and compile the results into a monthly report, which is presented to the client and then shared throughout the organization.

Our Callers

Zelos callers are highly trained in order to ensure consistency among the calls. They alter their voices and the phone numbers they call from. They are assigned weekly calling windows of time in order to distribute the calls evenly throughout the day and week. The call counts and schedule are determined by the total number of calls requested, the number of Zelos callers, the number of client locations, the time of day that the organization operates, etc. When the callers log into the online documentation system, they look at three charts to determine which location of the organization to call (if there is more than one) and which scenario to use. (Yes, we ask them to use their judgment.) The first chart is a daily log of which locations were called at what time. The second chart is a bar chart that breaks down the calls for the month by location and scenario. The third chart is a breakdown of the caller’s own calls based on location and scenario; it can show the breakdown based on any period of time—from the current month to the last few months. These reports help the callers avoid calling the same location or using the same scenario too frequently.

The Point

The reason we conduct mystery shopping is to help organizations continuously improve their customer service. All the data and information that we collect is organized into a monthly report and given to the client. There are a number of ways that the report can be used by the organization: in staff meetings, to identify best practices, to share information within the organization and across locations, to set targets, to design regular targeted training sessions, and more. Our most successful clients incorporate mystery shopping into broader initiatives—it’s the piece that measures how they’re doing and enables them to course correct through the organizational change process; it’s also the piece that identifies process or system improvements that would be made to support the effort; and it’s also the piece that leads to staff celebrations when they exceed their own targets.

What service are you providing that might benefit from this creative approach?


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