Mystery Shoppers Observe the Good, Bad and Ugly of Customer Service

In Carey Mraz’s Professional Communications course, Globe University students recently got to experience first-hand the variety of customer service they were provided at local businesses through an applied learning project.

In the first half of the class, students learned about the importance of nonverbal and verbal communication, which prepared the students for the types of skills they should be observing as well as demonstrating while out in the community. All of them recognized that nonverbal communication is just as important as, if not more important than, verbal communication.

Each student was allowed to call one of their three locations to pose their customer service question over the phone, and they found the calls were not as easy to make as they had initially thought due to the lack of nonverbal communication.

Students noted that their experiences were generally positive, though the few bad incidents were bad enough that they would not return to those businesses. They did say that they definitely now know how not to act when they are providing services to customers at their jobs.

On a positive note, one student had such a great experience that she took the time to fill out a positive customer service experience card for the individual who worked with her to answer her questions.

This customer service project allowed the students to put into practice the communication skills they had gained throughout the quarter, while at the same time observing the communication skills of others at local businesses.

Students were assigned to small three- to four-person teams and they were allowed to choose which businesses they planned to visit. To make the task of talking to the businesses easier and more realistic to the students, they were encouraged to visit locations and ask questions that they sincerely had an interest in or had a need for.

For instance, one student was looking for a new cat litter for her cat who has sensitive skin. She opted to go visit Petco. There she was able to speak with someone about her cat’s issue and they helped her select the best litter option.

Another student was looking for a new cellphone company so she visited Cellcom to ask about their plans and options. This took the pressure off the students so that they didn’t feel that what they were asking was fake or staged and they were able to relax a bit and act themselves when they approached employees on their visits.