Banks need as much help discovering their customer service weak points as retail stores. According to Loyalty 360, the customer experience at a banking institution is becoming a bigger part of the picture. Because of the proliferation of smartphone applications, much of the banking people do is online, but for serious things like loans and account questions, people need access to someone who can give them information in person. Mystery shoppers can help bankers learn whether they are providing an adequate explanation of the complex financial instruments people are investing in.

How to mystery shop the banking industry

Although it may seem daunting at first because you will probably have to consult with a banker under an assumed identity and ask complicated questions, much of what you will have to do will probably be written down in the visiting and reporting requirements, Mystery Shopper Magazine reported. This likely will include some help with setting up a convincing character, including the addition of your false bank account to the system. The challenge of the job will be remembering all the details of your account books, or at least as many details as would convince a finance professional that you know what you’re doing and genuinely need help understanding banks.

A further difficulty lies in trying to remember all of the complex material being explained to you during your conversation with the banker. It may help to have a pre-existing understanding of whatever you are being asked to assess, whether a home loan or a retirement account. This way you can remember key words and ideas and understand whether they were explained properly or not.

Reporting on the information

As usual, one of the hardest parts of mystery shopping is writing the report afterward. Likely, you will have left the bank and will be starting to forget some of the subtle or complex details of your interactions with staff. Try to begin writing as soon after your session at the bank as possible so the details are fresh in your mind.

The key points to remember will be explained to you in your reporting requirements. Sometimes companies will give you a simple form to fill out, asking specific questions that will help guide your experience when you are facing someone at the bank. Read the questionnaire first, and then keep the information in the front of your mind when you begin to ask the banking representatives the appropriate questions. Make sure his or her answers are clearly heard, and try to remember them as best you can.

Some tips

Taking notes during a mystery shop is usually a bad idea, but if a banker is going to explain something to you and it would make sense to write down notes anyway, it may not hurt to write down definitions of words to be sure these were explained properly. Take as many notes as you can in front of the bank manager, in such a way that it won’t be likely he or she will think your notes are actually for mystery shopping.

Some banks will ask you to mystery shop two or more branches. Sometimes they will ask you to visit two branches on the same day. It’s a good idea to take notes between assignments, so that the two experiences don’t stick together in your mind, making it difficult to discern who said what.

Also, remember to keep everything you are given and look the materials over carefully. Give your honest opinion as to whether you think anything was left out during your visit to the bank. Also, remember to describe the bank’s appearance and the quality of the service, just as you would for a retail store.