Mystery Shopping Case Study with Human Experience & W. Short Hotel Group 

Pictured above: Nic McClanachan

W. Short Hospitality is one of Sydney’s leading hospitality groups with more than 30 years experience operating bars, hotels & pubs throughout NSW. The group currently operates 8 iconic and diverse pubs across Sydney and the Mid-North Coast of NSW. 

An interview with Jen Russell, Managing Director

Can you share with us what was going on in your business before you began mystery shopping with Human Experience in 2016?  

Our business was already working closely with Human Experience founder, Nic McClanachan, on coaching and leadership for our team. When Nic began offering mystery shopping we thought it would be a great opportunity for us to have fresh eyes on the business and be able to see firsthand what sort of experience our customers were having with each of our venues.  

What has changed in your business as a result of mystery shopping? 

Having real-life feedback to act on has meant our managers have been able to better tailor training to suit the needs and skill gaps within their teams.  

Managers have expressed feeling more confident having coaching conversations as they use the mystery shopping data as a base for these conversations, whether positive or constructive.  

We have noticed staff are more motivated to perform as they have an idea of what the customer is looking for and commenting on. They are learning how all of the little things can really impact someone’s experience.  

“While managers can talk to their teams about the importance of  

service standards, hearing it from a customers point of view has  

much more of an impact.”  

What does your management do with the mystery shopping reports when they receive them every month?  

When our management receives the mystery shopping reports they start by analysing and interpreting the information. 

  • They look for key takeaways, what was done well and what could have been done better.  
  • They identify areas of service that might require training or coaching conversations such as improving product knowledge or refining upselling techniques
  • They look for opportunities to recognise and acknowledge the staff members who were mentioned for performing well. 

The management team communicates their findings to other managers, the senior leadership team, and all employees. This helps create awareness about the areas that need improvement and fosters a collective effort towards enhancing the customer experience. 

“Mystery shopping provides us with an opportunity to identify areas of service that require further training, and also recognise and acknowledge staff who’ve been performing well.” 

What do you believe are the main benefits of an ongoing mystery shopping program?  

The regular reports help to identify trends, patterns, and common issues that emerge. This helps our managers gain an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of our operations. 

The detailed feedback given can help:  

  • Identify areas that need improvement.  
  • Identify training needs.  
  • Recognise employees for great performance. 
  • Motivate the staff to maintain high standards. 

The feedback given is unbiased and objective, and the questions can be tailored to each venue or department. It’s been a really useful tool in starting those more difficult conversations with staff when needing to address their performance.  

What results in your business can you attribute to having an ongoing mystery shopping program?  

Staff motivation: Our staff read the reports or get a shout out for great service and it helps them understand what the customer is experiencing and how they directly impact that experience.  

Training opportunities: The feedback has helped us identify areas of service that require training for our teams, or opportunities for coaching and development of our people.   

Service improvements: We’ve been able to make improvements in specific areas of concern, for example acknowledging guests on arrival or attempting to upsell.  

What is it like working with Human Experience?  

We love working with Human Experience. They take the time to learn our venues and our industry so they ask the right questions and build reports that provide us with valuable feedback.   

The Human Experience team are extremely knowledgeable, their communication is excellent and the response time is very quick whenever we do have a question.  

Why should other business owners consider mystery shopping? 

Mystery shopping is a useful tool to see what is happening in your business.  

It also helps with your training needs analysis, ensuring managers are hitting KPIs, that product knowledge is where it should be and service standards remain high.  

If you have some areas of concern, you can tailor the mystery shoppers to specifically target those concerns.