Office Depot’s DIY Mystery Shopping Adventure
The most recent HBR ( >Harvard Business Review) features Kevin Peters, president of Office Depot, taking on mystery shopping himself (at first) to drive results. He discovered what most of our clients tell us; Mystery shopping works.
The problem is most companies (and unfortunately sometimes their supplier) don’t do it correctly. When they don’t get the results they hope for, they end up “throwing out the baby with the bath water.”
- Office Depot had a mystery shopping program that did not work.
- The president went out the stores and did the job himself.
- Peters found they were not measuring the right things.
- Office Depot is now recalibrating and rolling out to its stores
- Talking directly to his customers in the store yielded information that Peters was not getting through his executives or customer satisfaction survey program.
- Peters wanted to find more ways to find out why people are leaving the store without making a purchase.
Our take on the story
The mystery shopping program was set up for failure before it ever began.
It is unfortunate that Office Depot probably wasted hundreds of thousands of dollars in what could have been easily identified upfront. “If you don’t ask the right questions, you will not get the right answers.”
We love Harvard Business Review but they did sort of take the angle of the president doing the old “if you want the job done right do it yourself” mantra. While this was novel for the article, in reality really cannot happen across any chain in a meaningful or sustainable way.
Although we do not know it for a fact, the provider they mention is probably not doing their new program anymore (nor is Peters) and the person or team who brought the provider in and managed the program is probably not at Office Depot either. The person or team in charge of Customer Experience has a great opportunity in front of them; not just because they recalibrated their mystery shop program, but because they still have huge opportunities.
The opportunity is the huge open gap on the non-purchaser side of the customer experience.
There was something else that was alluded to but not pointed out. What about the people who made a purchase, but would have bought more? They are screaming for >customer intercepts. I wonder if the president will do them too?
My bottom line
I love that Peters got his hands dirty in the store and actually talked to the customers. it is a great lesson for all retail executives. We just want them to be successful in the long term; not because HBR said so, but their customer, their employees and their stock price need them to be.
If you would like additional insights on why most mystery shopping programs do not work (and what to do about it) or are interested in finding out how to understand why customers leave your store and do not make a purchase, >let us know. In the meantime, we look forward to sharing future insights that can help you succeed in your position and create a future full of possibility.