Background: A local credit union in Upstate NY partnered with Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) to better understand the customer experience at all of its branch locations. The credit union wanted to use mystery shopping services to learn unbiased perceptions regarding services. Specific objectives of the market research were to evaluate the customer experience based on staff knowledge, proficiency in using the electronic systems in-place, accuracy of information, and service levels.

mystery shopping for credit unions and banks

Methodology: RMS engaged four in-person mystery shops and four telephone mystery shops at each of the designated branch locations. Conducting four in-person and four telephone mystery shops ensured enough data was collected on each of the targeted locations. The visits were conducted over several weeks in order to separate encounters. Experienced mystery shoppers from RMS made personal visits to each respective branch and documented their customer service experience. A detailed evaluation form was developed and utilized for documenting the in-person visits and telephone calls. RMS worked with the credit union team to develop unique scenarios, which included  inquiring about checking accounts, savings accounts, and other various services offered at the credit union.

Some Takeaways:

  • Overall, the initial service reps scored slightly above the 4.0 level of acceptable satisfaction deemed through past mystery shopping, while the financial service representatives scored slightly below with regards to in-person experiences.
  • In only 38% of the in-person shops did representatives mention other services to the mystery shoppers without being prompted. This represents a missed opportunity to increase cross-selling of products/services to potential members.
  • If a mystery shopper stated they were not a member, the representative at the credit union directed them to paperwork or a website with information on signing-up. A certain percentage of representatives did not take extra time to explain the process or the benefits of being a member at the credit union.
  • Similar to the last finding, it was found that some representatives were using the website as a first option for a resource rather than consulting directly with the mystery shopper.

Client Feedback:

  • The credit union in Upstate NY summarized its experience with RMS as “thorough and attentive.”
  • RMS was rated as a “10” on overall satisfaction on a 1-10 scale with “10” being very satisfied.
  • The client rated RMS as “much better than other market research vendors.”
  • RMS received perfect satisfaction scores of “10” for how well the proposal matched the client’s objectives, communication with the RMS team throughout, timeliness of the project from start to finish, quality of the final report from RMS, and helpfulness of the recommendations from RMS.

Mystery shopping projects are a great way to see what your customer’s experience looks like through the eyes of a consumer.  RMS makes it a point to customize our evaluation form and report so the end-client feels like they were there.  If you are interested in conducting a similar mystery shopping project for your bank or credit union, contact our Business Development Director Sandy Baker at or call her at 315-635-9802.