Management Best Practice: Mystery Shopping

So I was checking out of the grocery store today and thinking what a pleasant experience it was to shop there.

Looked up at the community bulletin board on the way out and there it was:

"Mystery Shop Report"

...posted for all the world to see.

The one-page report ranked the store's performance on 5-10 factors and gave it an overall grade of about 80 percent.

It also showed that mystery shopping checks had been done at intervals throughout the year, so this was a year-to-date score.

What a quick, simple, no-cost and highly effective management tool!

If you knew that at any time you might be interacting with a mystery shopper, how would you behave?

How would your boss?

How would your weekly meetings run?

And how would your group act differently knowing that team scores would be posted on the wall -- for visitors!

Mystery shopping - a simple concept with a wide range of applicability. 

"Brand Is More Than Logo" - Convincing The Client

In the realm of brand, to get beyond logo, your goal is to show very tangibly that:

*  The "real" brand has to do with delivery not just image.

* Delivery occurs through employees.

* Employees therefore drive brand value.

The problem is that people convince themselves - rarely are we convinced by others. Pure "facts" and "feelings" are not enough.

Your job as the consultant is therefore to facilitate the process of self-convincing.

Generally there are 5 factors leading a person or group to shift their point of view or belief system. All go back to "WIIFM" ("What's in it for me?")

1) Biological incentive - The new belief system energizes me, makes me feel good

2) Financial incentive - I will make more money 

3) Psychological incentive - I will experience positive emotions or negative ones will be alleviated 

4) Social incentive - I want to be respected by my peers, I want to be "in the know"

5) Spiritual incentive - I want my life to be worth something, I want to make meaning 

Therefore, your job as the consultant is as follows:

1) Figure out which of these drivers of change is primary for the client.

2) Demonstrate how the client's primary driver is ill-served by current thinking, using:

--Benchmarking -- e.g. How others are winning 

--Gap analysis - e.g. client's perception versus stakeholder perception 

--Optimization analysis - e.g. a projection of potential improved performance 

3)  Providing a simple visualization of what brand optimization would look like and how YOUR team is best poised to deliver the custom work needed. (Most likely you will need to partner with others because no single firm can do it all and do it best.)

The specifics of this conversation and presentation vary from client to client because it has to be tailored to the factor that is most convincing to them.

At all times the constant is that clients learn through interaction with you. You are the expert facilitator of their enlightenment. Words on a page are not enough.

Good luck.

* All opinions my own.

Don't Let Your Brand Become A Free-For-All

Free-for-all brands quickly become garbage dumps. Photo by McKay Savage via Flickr.

I used to support a Brand Enforcement Unit, client-side.

People tried to sneak stuff past us all the time, and sometimes they succeeded. We enforced external.

At every layer of the organization it happened. A pitched battle for independent symbolic expressions of brand.

Posters, brochures, websites external and internal, names and acronyms, even comic books and frisbees.

Watching how the battles went down you would think they were fighting for real estate.

Actually - yes they were. And often they got away with it due to lack of unified and enforced brand standards.

People understand that your name and the way that name is portrayed means everything. It is the beginning of organizational reality.

So even if something is "wrong" at the start, with enough repetition it becomes "right."

That is why there can be no exceptions when it comes to brand enforcement. 

The minute you open that door, armies invade.

* All opinions my own.

New Presentation at SlideShare: Branding & Compensation Strategy

Invested In The Mistake

Many have tried to teach me cooking over the years and many have failed.

It's not their fault; they give me good recipes. Which I then, being creative, fail to follow.

There have been times when I did try, really. Went online and printed actual what-to-dos. Ingredients. Measurements. Baking times.

But even then, I mess things up.

Like reasoning: You can substitute white sugar for brown sugar, right? Because "it's all sugar" so "they're both the same."

Or thinking: "I should be able to broil these muffins, right?" Because the igniter in the oven was broken, but the broiler worked, and I really, really wanted a batch.

But the biggest mistake I make with cooking is never admitting to failure.

Some people can salvage dry turkey, like my aunt. It is amazing how she revives a nearly-dead bird.

I cannot do what my aunt does. But neither can I just say so.

And so with the charred muffins, there I am, adding icing.

The scary-sweet chocolate chip cookies get stirred into ice cream.

And the dry Thanksgiving meal gets chopped up and sauteed into a huge stomachache.

It is sort of funny, scary and sad what my family has suffered through. But there's an important lesson for organizations, too.

When you mess up it's better to admit that a mistake is happening, and deal with it right away.

Not add new mistakes to old ones and try to pretend that everything is OK.

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