Post Training Strategies: Use Mystery Shopping to Know What’s Sticking.

Well trained employees are clearly a major priority for American companies. In 2016, U.S. employers spent more than $70 billion on employee training programs, and more than 40% of that training involved an instructor working with employees individually or in a group setting.

For companies with many locations, tackling this priority is more complex. It’s one thing to train employees on how you want them to interact with customers. It’s another to make sure the training is actually being implemented.

Are you sure your training is taking effect throughout your company’s locations? How do you know that your investment is turning into action?

Mystery shopping can provide those answers. A recent study of the banking industry shows how.

We discovered that bank employees aren’t executing their training

Banks big and small have similar goals in every customer interaction, and most trainers will be giving their staff similar lessons at financial institutions of all sizes.

But our studies revealed that this teaching isn’t always reaching the customer. We dispatched 120 mystery shoppers to banks and credit unions across the country, asking them to evaluate account representatives on more than two dozen individual performance attributes. Here’s what we found.

Most sales trainers teach their staff to ask for the sale at every opportunity, and that’s certainly what bank trainers teach. Generally, bigger banks are getting close to the mark, too. 84% of staff at big banks asked for a sale, but that still leaves almost one in five conversations where there was no sale question. Smaller banks and credit unions fared much worse: staff asked a closing question less than 60% of the time.

Beyond primary sales goals, increasing cross-sales is a significant interest, but our mystery shoppers found that staff at banks of all types are doing a poor job of cross-selling products. Only about half of the staff at big banks asked if our shoppers were interested in an additional product. That figure was even lower for smaller banks and credit unions, where just 20% and 17% of staff actively cross-sold products.

At the very least, trainers will teach their staff to ask customers for personal contact information for follow-up purposes, typically in the form of an email conversation. But only 36% of our shoppers were asked for any contact information at all, and only 8% were asked to provide an email address.

How post-training mystery shopping adds value to your training

In each of these situations, the staff’s failure to follow the training causes two significant problems for the banks and credit unions we studied.

First, the staff missed out on sales opportunities by failing to close and cross-sell. They also missed out on future opportunities for sales by failing to gather contact information for later follow-up conversations. The staff almost literally left money on the table through these errors.

Second, each of these failures also represents a missed opportunity to increase customer satisfaction with the bank. While cross-selling obviously increases a bank’s bottom line, it also can meet another customer need through an additional product, and follow-up conversations can lead to more opportunities to serve each customer in a more precise way.

These failures aren’t limited to banks. Companies of all kinds could easily fall into similar patterns, and without diligently studying the interactions between your staff and your customers, you may not have an adequate understanding of what results your training is producing.

Using mystery shopping shows in precise detail how well your staff is following your sales training, information that could mean the difference between a good investment of time and money and a wasted opportunity.

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