Banking, Financial Services

Aim: PAN Research worked in partnership with one of the main Irish banks to design and manage the bank’s first mystery shopping programme covering the Republic and Northern Ireland. The client is in a very competitive marketplace and needed visibility of typical customer experiences across a range of banking products, channels and competitor benchmarks. The bank chose PAN Research to undertake this work because of our commitment to providing high quality and actionable information that is consistent across all surveys; and data that focused on helping the company to improve their service standards and sales performance across product ranges.

Methodology: PAN developed mystery shopping questionnaires based on service criteria and specific research objectives for the client and a number of their competitors. The questionnaires reflected real customer experiences and satisfaction levels and all issues were assigned importance weightings agreed in advance with the bank. Shoppers were trained on each product prior to their mystery shopping visits and the panel included existing bank customers. In addition to robust quantitative data, detailed qualitative feedback was generated from each evaluation –describing customer experiences, attitudes and the reasons behind evaluation ratings.

Results: Branches received a detailed report after each visit, with scenarios rotated quarterly. Each quarter senior retail management received summary reports highlighting strengths and weaknesses in customer service, product knowledge and sales performance. The results of each quarter were discussed at length with the client so that PAN could learn more about the company’s needs and concerns and further customise the mystery shopping forms to extract additional information of interest to them. Summary reports included trend graphing, performance league tables – by branch, area and product type, KPI tracking and competitor comparisons by product.

Measure of Success: The results of this wide ranging mystery shopping programme played a key role in improving the effectiveness of our clients training programmes. The results also positively informed and guided the sales design process and fed into the banks incentive/recognition programmes for high performing employees. It also provided invaluable and unique intelligence on the strengths and weaknesses of their competitors in the market.

Estate Agents

Aim: This large scale project required PAN to conduct over 250 evaluations at our client and competitor locations countrywide. The objectives of the research were to measure consistency of service delivery and approach throughout the client member network, and to provide a reporting mechanism that would enable the Group, and each member, to understand their strengths and address weaknesses in how their service was presented, explained and sold to potential Buying or Selling customers.

Methodology: In collaboration with the client, PAN designed a questionnaire that explored member’s adherence to the company’s clearly defined service standards. Instead of a checklist approach, shoppers were required to provide detailed narratives outlining the reasons behind evaluation ratings thereby increasing management’s ability to make real changes to improve frontline performance. As the research involved people posing as interested property buyers and sellers it was essential that shoppers were as credible as possible. To achieve this we developed a specific panel of mystery shoppers to undertake these visits, backed up by a dedicated team of trainers. This approach ensured that findings were based on a consistent approach and reports were both informative and accurate.

Results: Mystery shopping reports were made available to the client via PANnet, our state of the art online mystery shopping system. Each location manager, area manager and senior manager was provided with a dedicated password, and given single or multi level access to reports where appropriate. PANnet reporting gave the client the added benefits of immediate access and the ability to 'interrogate' data e.g. results on a question-by-question basis – trends, by location, by area, by company etc. PAN also participated in a nationwide roadshow to company locations and made presentations highlighting excellent performance and areas of concern. PowerPoint presentations were made to area managers and senior management, backed up by detailed summary reports.

Measure of Success: The roadshows and discussions that followed allowed franchisees to discuss the research findings with PAN, ask questions and resolve concerns they had with the results or with general service standards. A notable improvement in service standards was achieved and has since been maintained by members across the country. The mystery shopping findings were also used as one of the criteria for their annual franchisee of the year awards.


Motor & Home Insurance (Telephone mystery shopping)

Aim: Our client had two fundamental requirements for a research programme. Firstly, to provide a detailed analysis of the Motor and Home insurance sales processes; and secondly, to establish a mechanism capable of providing detailed and measurable feedback for each new business staff member.   The research focussed on compliance issues, targeting appropriate policy benefits to customer profiles, staff service attitude, and sales performance and closing.
Methodology: Working closely with the client team, PAN designed a mystery shopping programme to report on every aspect of the transaction from the customer’s perspective. As the performance of each individual is of critical importance, some waves involved a digital audio recording of each call. Clients can access this MP3 recording via a link on each online agent report. Due to the nature of insurance sales, mystery shoppers also prompted agents with a competitor quote to more effectively measure how agents positioned the policy vis a vis the competition. For a more realistic assessment of closing the sale, mystery shoppers also made call-back or follow up evaluations where they posed as interested customers looking for more policy information before making a final decision.

Results: PAN produced reports for each agent, which included performance statistics, targeted shopper comments and digital call recordings. Senior management were provided with summary reports which ultimately enabled the client to act on where they have fallen short of expectations and/or needed to make further/ongoing changes to improve their sales process and the sales performance of individual staff members.

Measure of Success: The results of this ongoing mystery shopping programme now form a core element of staff training and appraisal. Agents are provided with individual mystery shopping reports and these are reviewed and discussed at length with team leaders. The further enhancement of easily accessible call recordings has ensured the success of this motivational and beneficial mystery shopping programme. Summary reports provide management with a crucial performance measurement tool in this highly competitive business.






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PAN Research
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t: 299 3800 / 01
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