Posted on: July 05, 2012 Uncategorized

There’s a new show on the Food Network. It’s called Mystery Diners. Maybe you’ve seen the coming attractions while watching Chopped.

The undercover operatives of Mystery Diners are called to duty by restaurant owners who suspect their employees are doing a less-than-stellar job. It might be stealing, lying, mistreating customers, or just generally doing lousy work. The Mystery Diners go into these dining establishments undercover, and with the help of surveillance cameras, they find out exactly how the mice play when the boss is away.

It’s a new twist on “mystery shoppers”. Mystery shoppers have been used for decades by retailers who want to gain their customer’s point of view. Often a mystery shopper is recruited through an employment agency, and sent into a store at a specific date and time. She is provided with a small to-do list – things to accomplish and observe during her visit. Her mission might include asking a salesperson for help, locating a particular product, using the fitting room, or making an actual purchase. Afterwards, she reports back to store management with her observations. Was the salesperson helpful? Was the fitting room clean and attended? Were the shelves properly stocked with product? Was the cashier polite and efficient?

There are ways of adapting the mystery shopper approach to your CPA practice.

But Salim, why would I spy on my employees like that? I trust them!

I don’t mean to suggest that your staff is full of jerks, liars and thieves. But I do advocate keeping your eyes and ears open. As the chief of your tribe, it’s your job to look for ways to improve your client’s experience – and that experience relies a lot on your people.

Listen to the way your staff members talk to clients.

• Are they courteous?
• Do they act professionally?
• Are they friendly?
• Do they listen well?
• Do they engage the client?

Take it a step further. Have someone call your office pretending to be a prospective client. Listen in.

Chances are good you’ll find plenty of room for improvement.

But the idea here isn’t to sweep in like the evil prince and start cutting lopping off heads. Once you’ve identified the weak spots, your job is to provide the proper training to your staff to correct what’s wrong. Maybe they just don’t know the right way of doing things. Maybe they didn’t know you cared.

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Until next time,

Salim

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