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Mystery shoppers important to customer service quality at banks

Banks often hire mystery shoppers to report on the customer service quality of their branches. These jobs require significant background knowledge and a lot of interaction with tellers. Recent data concerning overdraft fees indicate there may be a surge in bank shops soon.

The Pew Charitable Trusts released results from a survey conducted this summer on customer understanding of and experience with overdraft fees. It turns out that 52 percent of participants did not remember signing up for overdraft coverage but still saw overdraft fees on their statements in the past year. A whopping 68 percent replied that they would rather a purchase be declined than pay a large fee with a transaction approval.

The California Reinvestment Coalition published the findings of a large mystery shopping job in which 64 shops were conducted across 39 bank branches. Secret shoppers were able to determine that not only was information on overdraft fees contradictory and vague, it was often wrong. Employees and tellers were unable to provide consistent information on the requirements necessary for signing up or the means by which banks decide to charge a fee.

If commissioned to complete a mystery shop at a bank, be ready to act the part.

Get informed
If you are asked to open a new account at a bank with a specific financial background and profile, Mystery Shopper's Manual recommends keeping your story simple. There may be fake personal information to offer up, but if not, make sure you can recall the story you create for yourself. In addition, it's good to do some research on the subject of the shop. Learn about overdraft fees if that is your focus during the job. 

Stay strong
Liz Fusco, an attorney who worked with the California Reinvestment Coalition on the large bank mystery shop operation, told CNBC that the shoppers were well prepared with facts about overdraft fees and still came away confused. If you find yourself in the middle of a bank job completely perplexed, don't panic. Stick to your story and feel free to ask honest questions for clarification. Even if you think a teller has identified you as a shopper, do not give yourself away. Notify your scheduler.

Protect yourself
If asked to perform several bank shops in one day, double check with your mystery shopping company that this is not a security breach. Often if one person attempts to open multiple accounts within a certain timeframe, their name is flagged and authorities might be alerted.