Mystery Shopping Can Transform Your Club

Mystery shopping, customer surveys and reviews can be vital in allowing clubs to measure the service experience. Mark Reed, director of 59club, reveals how you can use these tools to your advantage…

Mystery shopping, customer satisfaction surveys and customer reviews are used as a strategy to glean critical information that assists clubs to measure and advance the service experience and sales etiquette afforded to their customers. The more communication channels we create, the more consumer voices are heard and the more we scrutinise our experience, the better educated we become to deploy a plan that will better serve our customers.

Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 11.02.4559club, renowned industry leaders in measuring and comparing customer service levels, have taken the industry by storm.

Some of the world’s most prestigious clubs have very quickly established themselves as award-winning customer service providers, and credit 59club for the service they provide – and it’s not just big name, big budget venues that benefit from delivering a great service. There’s no quick win. You have to continually invest in service. But what you gain from time spent with 59club is the perspective, direction, motivation and the skill set to advance.

Why introduce mystery shopper audits?

Insiders are often too close to their operation to identify flaws. Strengths are seldom celebrated, and the club continues to deliver their interpretation of ‘good’ with nothing to measure this against, or to aspire to. An independent mystery shopper audit allows managers to view their club through the eyes of their customers. Feedback will pinpoint strengths and weaknesses, while the ability to make service comparisons – to chosen competitors, the 59club industry and best performing clubs – on a global scale, delivers the motivation to advance.

Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 11.03.13What does ‘good’ service actually look like?

Good service is delivered by staff who predict customer expectations and react accordingly, ensuring they work to exceed aspirations. Service cannot be left to chance, staff need process, motivation and reward if we expect them to consistently deliver. Let’s consider a prospective member calls your club to enquire about membership. The call is answered in a very polite manner, the prospect is given the price, offered an email with the membership form attached and told to call back if they have any questions or wish to sign up. Polite, efficient and helpful you might say? How would you rate that experience and what would you compare it to? I can tell you this club would score just 18%, while the current 59club industry average score for membership enquiry call handling sits at 60%, with the best performers achieving an impressive 82%.

What about visiting golfers?

The following statistics have been taken from audits at clubs where 59club benchmarking has NOT yet been introduced and serve to reflect genuine industry standards at venues who are not privy to our best practice visiting golfer criteria. When it comes to group golf enquiries and visiting golfers, let’s just say there are many opportunities to improve

• After they call to enquire about hosting a group golf day, they receive their golf society quote just 44% of the time, and you fail to call to chase the sale 89% of the time.

• When it comes to upselling, the message is tragic, you fail to discuss the option to pre-book a buggy on 96% of occasions. Again at check-in, there is no mention of buggies 81% of the time – are they just for show?

• 73% of you fail to make any sort of attempt to sell additional items in the pro shop, such as those items that trigger impulse purchases, balls, gloves, tees.

• 71% of golfers, when playing the course, have not been made aware of where the yardage markers are measured, only 6% have been informed if there are on course F&B facilities available and just 8% are reminded of player etiquette.

• You fail to capture any personal data for future marketing campaigns 85% of the time.

All is not lost. The industry rates course condition at 77%, which takes into consideration the tees, fairways, bunkers, greens and so on. If you rely solely on having a good course you might be happy with this but, if you value your sales, service and reputation, you need to act fast.

Staff are accountable for the service they provide and should be rewarded or penalised based on their performance.

We are witnessing great practice within our client clubs with some managers now choosing to recruit new staff based on their 59club track record. As the industry continues on the road to progression, clubs can choose to join or be left behind as a result of the service they choose to deliver.

Customer satisfaction surveys breed loyalty

It costs five to six times more to recruit a new customer than it does to retain one. Any business needs to know what its customers think, want and what their future intentions are. Golf clubs are no different.

“Some would say you are brave to ask for customers’ opinion, we believe you are extremely brave not to ask”

Some clubs may conduct a mini survey or an exit interview, but the first tends not to be independent or thorough enough, and the second is way too late.

The best of the best are embedding satisfaction surveys into the framework of their club operation. As an example, new members are invited to complete a series of surveys in sequence after one, two, six and 12 weeks – critical touch points during their integration period.
Clubs who are running introduction to golf campaigns are using the survey tools in the same way to ensure the service that is expected is indeed received. The advantage of touching the same customers at pre-programmed intervals allows clubs to track satisfaction levels at the exact times that they deem appropriate.

Leading retailers are surveying their custom fit customers, their pupils and those who have made shop purchases, to strategically mould their service offering to deliver greater levels of satisfaction and customer retention.

For managers wanting to advance, 59club have developed pre-set survey templates with ‘quick fire’ questions to determine how the relevant customer experience is rated at your club.

Our managerial dashboard will track satisfaction ratings, make service comparisons and provoke immediate actions to constantly drive your business forward.

As clubs become more proactive, coherent managers are now utilising surveys to glean feedback in every conceivable manner. We have seen surveys introduced to assist clubs to develop their social calendar, club professionals who rely on customer feedback to better stock their shop, food and beverage managers are making seasonal menu changes based around customer favourites and some committees are even deciding what investments to prioritise both on and off the course based on member opinion polls.

Clubs are asking the customer to assist them to shape the club’s destiny. That’s a powerful voice to be heard and a powerful direction to take.

Customer reviews

Some would say you are brave to ask for customers’ opinion, we believe you are extremely brave not to ask. We have just unveiled our ‘member communication’ app, which complements our existing visitor review site

The app encourages club members (and their guests) to privately communicate their views direct with club management. The member selects their preference of anonymity, while the club receives feedback away from the public eye and with total confidentiality. Managers can decide what feedback they wish to share with members at what time and in what way. The addition of the golftell member app to the suite of satisfaction surveys and mystery shopping audits within our my59 software creates the complete quality assurance package to achieve sales & service excellence. Where do we start? We start with change! What you ask customers, how you measure and monitor performance and how you bring about change are the factors that will determine the successful outcome of any audit.

Clubs, committees and managers often assume that because a staff member plays golf, they will instinctively perform within their role. We look inside huge numbers of golf operations every month and witness numerous examples of nice people who are badly managed, poorly trained or both. Staff need process, motivation and reward if we are to expect them to consistently deliver great service.

59CLUB’S MISSION Our mission at 59club has always been to drive industry standards. We’ve never been expensive or out of anyone’s reach. We have worked to create an affordable package that provides clubs with the complete solution to independently monitor their own service levels and achieve excellence. Alongside unrestricted access to 59club’s ‘my59 software’ with its wealth of industry leading mystery shopper audits, customer satisfaction survey templates and customer review tools, 59club has created a package that also includes a trio of staff training opportunities for £500 a year. Interested to find out more? Visit:

By Marie J. Taylor

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