6 reasons why you should use mystery diners


6 reasons why you should use mystery diners


Whilst guest feedback and review management are extremely helpful tools for understanding what your customers think and feel, we have recently seen a renaissance in interest in mystery guest programmes as operators have come to realise that technology alone cannot give them the full picture of what happens in their venues.

It would be a mistake to say that mystery guest audits are more or less helpful than digital sources of feedback, because they set out to achieve very different goals. Instead, we would suggest that a mystery guest programme and customer feedback / reviews are incredibly complementary and can help operators achieve a 360-degree view of the customer experience.

Here are some reasons why it’s definitely worth considering a mystery guest programme:

1. Mystery guest feedback is objective

Guest feedback and reviews are written from a subjective perspective – what they liked and disliked. Mystery guest audits are factual – did something you expected to happen take place, or not? Guest feedback may point out that service was slow; a mystery guest audit will tell you how quickly the order was taken, how long did it take for food to arrive and whether plates were cleared in a certain amount of time.

2. Mystery guest feedback is impartial

The reason why internal audits often struggle to bring any tangible results is that people that have some kind of bias (whether personal / reputational, etc.) rarely are able to be completely impartial. Mystery guests have no obligation to be positively or negatively attuned to their experience and can offer an unbiased view.

3. Mystery guest feedback can give you insight into things your customers won’t tell you.

Can you ask your customers whether they were upsold a second drink, had a check back after their meal or if the toilets checks had been done? That would kill the mood quite quickly. When there are things you want to know about the customer journey but can’t ask your customers about – mystery guest audits can help plug that gap.

4. Mystery guest programme is a valuable investment

Compared to a guest feedback solution, a mystery guest programme can be a little more costly, but if you are looking to fine-tune processes, service steps and standards – having that richness of detail about every single guest touchpoint will quickly see returns (provided you take action to improve the situation). Mystery guest programmes can help improve footfall, NPS (Net Promoter Score), VFM (Value for Money) and AVT/ SPH (Average Transaction Value / Spend per Head) through upselling. One delivery client discovered they were missing out on 8% of order revenue from failed orders, thanks to delivery audits.

5. Mystery guest audits as a team training framework

It’s much easier for the team to consistently perform well if they know exactly what is expected of them. Therefore, the mystery audit questionnaire can (and should!) always be used for training purposes. It’s also a bit of a myth that there is a data lag after a mystery guest visit. All our audit reports are released the next working day, so you can be sure that the results can be accessed and addressed quickly - anything that happens over the weekend can be picked up at the Monday team briefing.

6. Mystery guest programme keeps your staff on their toes

Psychologically, it helps keep your staff on their best behaviour, as they never know when they might be assessed. There is a misconception that mystery guests are easy to spot – but we have many measures in place to ensure that doesn’t happen. First, questionnaires are designed to reflect natural experiences, and with 20 years of experience, we’re very good at working closely together with operators to fine-tune these to perfection. Secondly, our mystery guests are briefed before their assessment to match the requirements of the client. Thirdly, as we don’t pay our mystery guests, they do it for the pleasure of visiting brands and venues they already love – the diners fit in perfectly to the milieu and atmosphere of the assignments they choose. There are also various rules we can apply so that visits take place on different days of the week, times of the day and ensuring different faces.

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You could always consider running your own mystery guest programme, contacting your best customers to give you feedback in exchange for some free grub. Whilst it’s certainly a more affordable option, it does run the risk of bias as customers may want to give better feedback in order to keep receiving free meals! Additionally, in our experience, there is always a diminishing return on the money saved versus the ever-growing administrative hassle to keep an internal programme going.

Why not have a chat with us to see how our mystery guest audits work in more detail?

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