IVR Versus Mystery Shopping

March 12, 2009 by Nanette BrownComments

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A comprehensive mystery shopping program uses a combination of components that work synergistically to develop the vital data store managers need to effect change. One of those components is IVR (interactive voice response).

Unfortunately, some IVR vendors have chosen to position IVR surveys as a replacement for mystery shopping. This is erroneous, since these approaches provide different types of data, one based on subjective recollection and the other based on objective observation.

Mystery shopping provides an objective service evaluation based on factual observations, using people who are trained to know what to look for when conducting evaluations. IVR, or for that matter, any form of customer satisfaction surveys, capture highly subjective feelings and emotions only. Facts may or may not play a part in the responses, skewing the final data.

The core difference between the two is that mystery shopping is a customer experience measure based on a predetermined set of assessment criteria. IVR surveys, however, are used either as customer satisfaction measures or as customer experience measures based on the customer's recollection of subjective memory.

While IVR may be useful to a company seeking information on extremes of service (i.e., excellent versus poor), as extreme experiences often motivate customers to respond to IVR opportunities, the fact is that when seeking benchmarks from actual customer experiences, mystery shopping is better able to provide valid data.

The >MSPA believes that a company should consider using both services if their budget allows, so that they have both objective, fact-based research as well as subjective, opinion-based research on which to make important, organization-changing decisions. Using both services provides a more complete picture of the customer experience. The MSPA does not advocate replacing either service with the other.

Topics: Mystery Shopping

Written by: Nanette Brown

Executive Vice President and General Manager, Nanette continues to instill her passion for excellence across the organization, guiding the measurement, management and improvement of our clients’ customer experience.


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