Mystery Shopping Banks. How Do You Stack Up?

MYSTERY SHOP! Ah, two words that strike fear into the heart of customer-facing professionals everywhere. For those unfamiliar, mystery shopping is a tool used externally by market research companies, watchdog organizations, or internally by companies themselves to measure quality of service, or compliance with regulation, or to gather specific information about products and services. Basically, it’s a sneak attack to see what everyone is up to in action, not just on paper.

Recently, a very interesting white paper hit my desk. This white paper, from Econiq, explored the results of their three year- long Mystery Shopping initiative in US banks. Econiq is a Massachusetts based company that helps their clients improve the quality of the conversations they have with their clients. So, it makes total sense that Econiq would super interested in how front line bank personnel engage the folks that walk in their door.

We’re very interested in these conversations as well. As financial marketers, we tend to really focus on the internet. Of course we do, I feel silly just having typed that. What choice do we have? Everything is done online today, and we simply must allocate most of our budget and attention to this area to remain competitive. However, as I read through this paper, it became obvious to me the being so web obsessed has really affected the amount of attention given to branch efforts. Front line employees are not being effectively trained in how to deal with a customer who is a prime candidate for a cross-sell.

The mystery shopper Econiq sent in was the “type of customer you really want to have a good conversation with”. He was a mid-50’s, college educated, technically savvy small business owner who is willing to pay fees for appropriate service and convenience. Jackpot! He dropped sales clues throughout his conversation with the teller about opening a new checking account – he mentioned relocating to the area (Meet our mortgage guy!) and hoping to retire within 5 years (You should talk to our Financial Advisor!), etc. The results are kind of, well, staggering — 86% did not refer him to an associate, 8% suggested speaking to an associate, 4% provided the contact details of the associate and finally, only 2% asked the customer for their details. YIKES!

As someone who works with front line employees frequently, I really need to stand up for them after throwing them under the bus up there. Typically, they are awesome customer service professionals. This seems to me like more of an organizational issue. The study drew the conclusion that “the staff at the front line lack the confidence, support and guidance to have meaningful and valuable conversations. In their defense, front line staff are courteous, friendly and approachable but fall short of having conversations that will provide value both to the Customer and to the bank”.

Sales opportunities are being missed left and right, every day. So how do we solve this apparently country wide issue? Is it plausible that a community bank, say, 10 branches; has the resources to maintain a competitive web presence while also providing their front line staff with the training, support and confidence required to enable profitable interactions?

At this point, you probably see where I’m headed – I am a business woman after all (read: shameless self- promotion to follow). If you’re not familiar with what we do here, I’ll give you the Cliff Notes version.  The Truebridge system is a multi-channel lead generation tool that increases share of wallet through more effective cross-selling by leveraging branch and digital channels.

Front line employees of our clients would have an enormous leg up in this mystery shop. With proper training, our content is the perfect talking point – shifting the front liner from a sales role back to a customer service role. Imagine the dream customer from the study walks in, and they drop the clue about retiring in 5 years. The front liner simply has to jump on their Truebridge Employee Dashboard and quickly print out their customized retirement planning white paper, customized to the bank and personalized to the appropriate bank representative. The dashboard also includes a feature to instantly capture the customer’s information and deliver it to the representative. Easy!

If any of this sounds interesting, I highly recommend taking a look at the white paper. I really only scratched the surface. Likewise, if you are interested in learning more about how Truebridge can help teach your front liners how to be confident and successful in their interactions, feel free to get in touch!


Sarah Smith | Manager of Client Services

TEL | 617.956.5020  EMAIL |