Mystery Customer Programme

Mystery Customer Visits

The Directors of IHS are firm believers that the usage of Mystery Customers can be a key tool in increasing profitability. The best operator cannot be in their business every single hour it is trading, and unfortunately, the maxim that ‘a team is only as strong as its weakest player’ holds true even more so in the Service industry. This is especially important given the increasing usage of online review sites such as Trip Advisor, where even one poor instance of Customer Service can lead to an extremely negative online profile.

Of course, Mystery Customer visits alone cannot solve a cultural issue of poor service, but they will massively increase performance by creating an environment where staff are aware that the guest they are serving may be the one who is providing direct feedback to the business owners.

IHS can work with you to put together a bespoke programme to suit any business needs. On a basic level we can simply arrange visits assessing the criteria from one of our stock template questionnaires, then providing the results in a simple document. However, we can also create a set of criteria for the unique needs of your business and arrange visits to assess these; followed by delivering the results to staff and managers with review meetings that form part of the performance management process. This process can always be supported with training sessions delivered by IHS consultants to ensure that staff and managers are fully aware of the criteria they need to perform to.

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Test Purchasing

With the current massive emphasis on the prevention of underage sales, businesses are under a big obligation to exercise Due Diligence, doing everything they reasonably can to ensure all sales are legal. The Police and local Licensing Authorities carry out Test Purchasing themselves, and failure on the part of a licensed business can lead to fine, temporary closure and in the worst case, complete closure by removal of a premise's licence.

IHS has developed its own test purchase programme which Licensed businesses can be part of, where regular mystery customer visits are conducted to ensure staff members are complying with the Challenge 21/Challenge 25 requirements. These can be at a frequency of your choice – in some high volume town centre clubs the risk can be sufficient to warrant weekly tests; in a food led country pub a far less frequent visit schedule may be appropriate.

Clearly, test purchasers under 18 cannot be used, so all IHS team members engaged in this activity are of sufficient age to legally purchase the product, or gain entry to the establishment, that they are testing for. As staff members should be trained to comply with Challenge 21/Challenge 25 as appropriate, using test purchasers between 18-20 has no barrier to the activity's usefulness.

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Family Entertainment Centre – Hampshire

A busy Family Entertainment Centre failed a Test Purchase carried out by the local Police. An IHS consultant carried out extensive training with the team and managers, and installed a range of preventative measures – including regular test purchasing. Despite this, a second test purchase 3 months later was unfortunately failed.

The IHS consultant attended the follow up meeting from this visit, and managed the process with the Licensing Officer and Licensing Sergeant. Due to the Due Diligence measures demonstrated, the business was able to escape a fine, and instead volunteer a short non-trading period. Other businesses that had failed the same pair of Test Purchases were fined, and closed for a varying degree of time, with one having its licence reviewed.