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In the previous episode…

The time of her appointment had come: Beatrice Santacroce grabbed her bag and entered the office of the CEO of the NumberS chain.
The sky was partly overcast, but from the thirteenth floor of the building she could see the sun in the distance peeking out from the clouds and radiating the room. The Human Resources Director, too, was there to meet her; the CEO stared at the view outside the window, but his eyes were going beyond the horizon. The Mystery Coach sat in the chair in front of the desk, and placed a folder with documents on it: they were the Mystery Auditing reports of all the Stores.
 


A few hours earlier...

A month had passed since she had said goodbye to the boys at the Store32 and that morning, stopping in front of the shop windows, Beatrice Santacroce found them already set up with the new collection. She smiled and decided to enter: to welcome her, she found Irina, who greeted her cheerful and smiling. The Coach smiled back and glanced around: "How‘s it going?" she asked. "We have improved a lot thanks to your help, Coach. Although we still are a middle-ranking store, customer satisfaction continues to grow!" Irina answered. The Mystery Coach was pleased to note that the ambience was much more serene than when she arrived: the changes were clear. In the distance she saw Stefano, Alessandro and Ginevra laughing and talking to each other, following a couple of customers out of the corner of their eye.

"Irina is right" Arianna, the Store Manager, said while approaching the two women. "Since you joined the team, the Store is back in the rankings and each of us has learned how to enhance and manage relationships within the workgroup and with customers." The Coach smiled.

"In addition, I took your advice and appointed Stefano vice Store Manager: we work very well together, he learns quickly and is proposing really interesting and original ideas to renew and optimise our work and the services we offer to our customers". As soon as Irina had walked away to welcome a client leaving the two of them alone, Arianna came even closer to Beatrice and confided to her: "I am really happy about the progress and steps forward of my boys! Since you started assisting us, I have thought a lot about my dissatisfaction with being in this store which I did not feel as my own, and I realised that this prejudice brought me to focus on operations and not on the team. Thanks to you and your words I have seen where and how to do better to fill these gaps, without neglecting my duties as a Store Manager. However, even if things are going better now, I still feel the need for a Coaching programme to work on my daily behaviour at the point of sale."

Santacroce took a brief tour of the Store, watching the guys of the team at work: they were now a real group, but what really made the Mystery Coach proud was to see how calmly and confidently Karima was now able to assist customers. Finally, that unexpressed potential had emerged that she had seen in the girl from the first moment, even if hidden and almost suffocated by her low self-esteem.

Beatrice would have been happy to stay and watch the boys a bit longer, but three more NumberS stores were waiting for her before her meeting with the CEO.

The morning passed quickly, and in a moment the meeting time came. Entering the office of the CEO, Santacroce saw the reports of the NumberS chain scattered on the desk top: files, folders with the names of specific Stores and charts related to sales activities and Mystery shopping. "I had some good feedback from local customers in the stores, but I would like to know from you how this coaching has developed. What are the trends of the various stores?" asked the CEO, taking the file on Store32 and handing it to the Human Resources Director, who was next to him.

"Tell me in particular about store number 32, which rose by 5 points in the Mystery shopping performance rankings and also recorded a 20% increase in the average receipt, this quarter. What did you do there?" the CEO asked, starting to leaf through the report with interest, while Santacroce began to comment on the data.

"Starting from the results of the continuous Mystery Audit and the writing of the service standard designed with HR, we have been in store with an on-the-job training of the team. In a mix of individual and group training and coaching, we worked a lot on personal skills connected to the service standard: it was very effective to work on the concept of "procedure", linking the daily actions and product knowledge to the behaviour of each sales assistant in the reception and treatment of customers. Furthermore, seeing the first reports of the Mystery shopping made group even more aware of what generates a change of attitude and of how simple actions - intentionally observing the customer, keeping an eye on him while moving inside the store, remaining in his field of vision and getting closer at the right time - can make a difference.

At this point the Human Resources Director intervened: "And the Store Manager, how does she feel now? I know she had difficulties settling in ..."

Beatrice smiled and replied: "We managed to engage her: when she saw the boys starting to team up, to help each other in sales and to give themselves competent and pertinent feedback using the words of the procedure, she became curious, left her office and started attending our meetings ..."

The CEO listened with interest: "What do you recommend doing now?" he asked. "Customer satisfaction is growing, but it is still not enough ... Our vision is to bring the company to service excellence. Our competitors are shifting to digital solutions, as you well know, while we strongly believe that our salespeople and their ability to activate and build a relationship with customers are crucial".

"First of all, I thank you for the confidence you have shown in me ... I remind you that the Coaching on the service loses its effectiveness if it is limited to isolated interventions in the sales points, if the communication and marketing plan cannot be translated into effective and daily actions, if sales results are not linked to the way sellers relate to customers in their daily lives and if there is no individual assessment system rewarding the ability of individuals to work as a team" the Mystery Coach began.

The CEO considered for a moment the words that Beatrice had just said: "I want the performance index to rise by another 5 points by the end of the year".

"We must also involve the other points of sale in the Coaching and Training Laboratory: when I arrived in Store32 the boys could not read the Mystery data, they did not know the service procedure, they had no idea what skills to train to improve sales management", the Coach continued." We must work on how to transfer the vision to the individual seller, on the limiting convictions of each of them, on the awareness of how the behaviours acted in the relationship with the customer influence the result and on how to apply the single passages of the standard of service in the team".

Santacroce paused for a moment, looked at the Director of Human Resources and resumed: "The project must involve the right players: we should first convene a meeting with the Directors of the Stores, plan the intervention jointly, engage them immediately, observe them a few days while they manage the everyday life and the relationship with the boys whose performances determine the index of the Store. I would also suggest offering an individual Coaching programme to Arianna, the Store Manager, to help her grow further in the management of human resources at the point of sale".

Finally moving his gaze to the CEO, Beatrice concluded with a smile: so, what now? Go on like this, replicating all that has been effective, in a rigorous, shared and pressure-free way, systematising it over time and optimising investments, because in complex organizations like yours it is easy to waste energy and lose one’s bearings .... "

The meeting was now over: the CEO and the Director of Human Resources thanked Beatrice Santacroce, who left the headquarters ready to start a new Mystery Coaching® programme in the NumberS chain.

 
 

The prerequisites for an effective Mystery Coaching® project

There are three prerequisites for a Mystery Coaching® project to be effective: first, the organization‘s willingness to develop, to focus on the people in charge of customer relations and secondly, the awareness of the need for monitoring of the service provided through mystery shopping, implemented by a subject external to the organization, able to return elements to be translated into action plans. Third - but not least - the organization‘s desire to transform organizational awareness into a continuous improvement in consistency, continuity of training and coaching interventions and restitution of values to those determining the company‘s result: the people who represent the first of the service and sales chain links, those who hold the company‘s income statement.

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