My husband and I attended the European chapter of the MSPA- Mystery Shopping Providers’ Association – in Dubrovnik a few years ago. We decided to take a nice vacation while we were in Croatia so we rented a little Chevrolet and we began driving up the beautiful Adriatic Coast all the way to Vienna, Austria. It was absolutely breathtaking. We met wonderful people, stayed in little bed and breakfasts (they call them Zimmer’s) and we ate great food. We ate fish, fish, fish and more fish. We loved it. On our drive back to fly home from Dubrovnik, we went through a small town in Slovenia. Suddenly we saw something that we had not seen for 2 weeks…the golden arches of a McDonald’s. The steering wheel on our little rental car reacted as if a magnetic force turned it and we ended up with a McDonald’s hamburger for lunch that day, something that we probably had not done since our children were young. Why? It was familiar. It was tasty. And it was consistent. You guessed it: “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese,” and don’t forget the pickles! We knew what to expect.

In more than thirty years of mystery shopping for all types of companies, what we have learned is that it is not the high, high customer service scores that particularly satisfy our clients. Although the managers that we work with take great pride in scoring 100% at their stores and are quick to pat the employee on the back and hand them a nice incentive, what they are really hoping to achieve is consistency throughout all their locations.

The most important thing to a customer is to know they will receive good, consistent customer service from the stores they do business with. No surprises. The customer wants to know they will be appreciated, served in a timely basis, and receive value for their money…again and again and again. People go back to the place where they received good consistent customer service. And if it changes, i.e. if the level of service, the quality of products, and the wait times wane, the customer begins to doubt. There are too many businesses to choose from when you are making a buying decision.

We all want to know we are spending our time and our money wisely. So we will return to the places we can count on that consistently offer us exactly what we want – every time.

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