Medical Mystery Shopping Myth Busters

You might think you know all about medical mystery shopping. You might even think it’s not for you, but you might be surprised. Mystery shopping reveals key information for improving and maintaining an optimal patient experience at your hospital or practice. It helps you determine if you are fulfilling your brand promise.

Read on to learn how we dispel seven common myths about mystery shopping. We’ll also show you how much your company can benefit from it.

Myth 1

Mystery shopping is used as a “Gotcha!” moment and will make my company look bad. Mystery shopping is not used as a trap or a means to point fingers. It is a valuable method for improving quality, including identifying weaknesses AND strengths, and, ultimately, helping to identify your company’s star performers and best practices.

Myth 2

Anyone can be a mystery shopper. At Baird, our mystery shoppers go through Baird Group Certification before they perform phone or on-site visits. Along the same line, a lot of companies think we employ shoppers from all over the country to assess your organization. This is not true. We recruit shoppers within your region so that they are assessing according to what they expect in the market.

Myth 3

“Tailored to your organization’s needs” means “Tailored to break your budget.” We work with you to provide the information you need and with a budget you can afford. At Baird, we focus on your service goals what your service goals and lay out a plan to reach those goals while staying within your budget.

Myth 4

Mystery patients suck up huge amounts of time that could be spent on “real” patients. Our mystery shoppers never present themselves with life- or limb-threatening emergent conditions that would elevate their priority over your real patients’. When you look at the bigger picture, we design mystery shopping studies with your true customers’ needs in mind. For example, they evaluate your current patient experience to plan for the experiences. This means that we’re looking out for your future patients. The ones who haven’t even walked through the doors of your organization yet or called to make an appointment.

Myth 5

Mystery shopping patients overwhelm our staff. We spend time scheduling projects. We then spread shopper encounters out over a certain period. This avoids undue burden on your staff. Your staff is trained to treat every patient—on the phone or on-site—with the same amount of courtesy, compassion, and attentiveness. Therefore, every type of encounter is vital to the performance and reputation of your organization.

Myth 6

Mystery shopping is useless—we do patient satisfaction surveys already. Patient satisfaction survey results can only give you so much information. Consequently, you’ll receive quantitative data that you can’t always decode for detailed examples. In addition, there is a time lag between the actual experience and the received surveys. By combining mystery shopping with patient satisfaction surveys, you move beyond the what (the scores.) You can get to the why (the events combined with the emotional response). Shoppers dive deep into feelings associated with their experiences at your organization, adding quality to your quantity, and telling you specifically about the first impression your site or staff made, with details from the heart.

Myth 7

I can get the same results if my organization does the mystery shopping itself. You don’t have to outsource mystery shopping to a company like Baird. You can do it on your own, but you will be missing out on a crucial element that your own staff can’t match: objectivity. By using an objective, outside company to handle the mystery shopping, you gain an advantage. You gain unbiased callers or visitors who are not already emotionally connected to the company. Next, we take feedback from Baird Certified shoppers and consolidate it into one report. After that, we highlight common threads throughout every type of encounter at your organization that your staff might miss.

When patient satisfaction data from surveys is bad, everyone wants to explain it away or blame the survey or the methodology. Mystery shopping tells the stories that resonate with the heart. The most important thing that mystery shopping does for an organization is to move information (data) from the head to the heart.
-Kristin Baird

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