Mystery shop your firm

Lesson Outcome

You will understand and gain the skills to critically assess other businesses and ultimately your own online presence and how it is reflecting your firm

As well as understanding how you are perceived it is important to look at the way you are presenting yourself to the outside world.

What experience will people have when they view your firm from afar and then how does that experience change if they interact with you.

Traditionally a firm would have had a word-of-mouth reputation, a physical office and possibly paid advertising and promotion.

These would have made up what is effectively the firms “shopfront”. Now any business is managing multiple shopfronts or windows to the world many of these are online.

These would include:

  • Your website
  • Your Social Media Accounts
  • Your Teams' Online Presence
  • A wide Variety of Third-Party Websites which Will  feature your firm 
  • your office space
Online Exercise

What do you see?
Imagine you wanted to find out about something or someone, think about the steps you might take.

Let’s imagine you did this for a another firm.
Work through the following steps:

Start by googling the firm's name...

  1. 1
    What comes up in the search – are there lots of positive stories or links from other sites?
  2. 2
    Is the company’s website easy to find?
  3. 3
    Are there other similar companies which might create confusion?
  4. 4
    What impression does this search create?

For a more thorough review you can also carry out the same search if different search engine such as Bing, Firefox or Safari – what difference do you notice in the results?

View the firm's website...

  • What is your initial impression – is it formal, corporate, fun welcoming?
  • How easy is it to navigate?
  • How real is it? Does the language feel personalised? Are the images used real people or stock images which could be any website or fim?
  • Can you find information easily on what it is like to work there?
  • Could you apply for a job or make contact if you were interested in working there?
  • What impression does the website create about what it is like to work there?

Visit the firm's social platforms...

For each site consider the following:

  • How present are they on each site e.g. number of followers, number of people they follow?
  • How active are they on the site – are they regularly using the site or is it dormant?
  • How collaborative and generous are they – are they liking sharing, commenting as well as posting their own content. Social channels are by their very nature social and accounts that just post are likely to be less impactful?
  • What is the overall impression created on the site?

The team’s online presence

With information more readily available, the impression of a business is not limited just to the business itself but also the people who work there.

It is now common for prospective employees to research owners, directors and senior managers of a business, their prospective line manager and teammates.

They may search all platforms but are more likely to review people in LinkedIn as it is easy to find people attached to a company and it gives them a view of how the person presents themselves professionally.

For your chosen business consider:

  • How easily can you find people within the business?
  • Are the people engaged with their employer
  • Have up to date job information
  • Engage, like and share content created by the company
  • Proactively and positively talk about the company
  • Use the platform in a way which presents a positive view of themselves and the company
  • What overall impression of the company is created by the team’s online activity

If you are not familiar with particular social sites then engage your team. Friends or family who should be able to help you.

There is also lots of online guidance to help set up these sites. Also see our Practical Guide below – Using LinkedIn for Business

Third Party Sites

There are a number of sites that allow employees to review their employers, including Glassdoor, Indeed, and LinkedIn. 

These sites allow employees to share their experiences working at a company, including the pros and cons of working there.

Employers can also use these sites to respond to reviews and address any concerns that employees may have.

Reviews can also be left by customers and employees against a Google site.

To understand the scope of these sites search Indeed for your chosen employer or look at Crowe as an example of an accountancy practice.

When reviewing the Indeed site, consider:

  • How fully are the company using the capabilities of the site?
  • What is the overall impression created by the site

Please be aware that for Indeed, Glassdoor and most other review sites you will need to create an account and create a review for a job, role or company before you can see substantial information about other companies.

You may find that your already have a company profile on these sites which is receiving reviews and feedback against.

If this is the case you can “Claim” the ownership and admin rights to the profile, if this has not been done already. (Sally are there any specific Accountancy ones to include in here? Or Registered body sites etc)

The Office/Firm

The other way will gain an impression of a business or other firm is when you visit of contact them.

This could be physically visiting the site – what impression would be created if you visited the office for an interview?

 Contact by phone – how effectively is a phone enquiry dealt with. 

Emailing or contacting the business via a form on their website.

Workbook exercise

Mystery Shop Exercise

The previous exercise will have helped prepare you to think about how you mystery shop your own firm. This can be a challenging exercise and you may wish to engage a range of people to help you to do this.
Reviewing your own firm can be hard as it can be more difficult to be objective. Also, you might be too familiar with what you are viewing to be able to view it with “fresh eyes” and be objective.
On a practical level when conducting web searches and other online activities you will likely have already visited these sites. Therefore, as much as possible try to conduct searches  incognito or private versions of browsers.
At this stage you should focus on reviewing rather than fixing what you have.
Use your workbook to help you to mystery shop your firm.

practical guide
Using LinkedIn for Business

As a business, LinkedIn can be a valuable tool for promoting your employer brand. Using the downloadable resources below called 'Using LinkedIn for Business' you can follow the steps to  set up and promote your company page.

What The Best Firms Do 

The best firms are aware of every place they are present online and take ownership of these sites have an active strategy for making these sites work for them.

They also make sure that they are only using channel which work for them. It is worse to have a Twitter account and not engage with it, than not to have a Twitter account.

during this lesson

You have learnt about the way your firm looks to the outside world.  Insights from this will determine your next steps.

next steps...

When you are ready, move on to the next lesson using the button below.

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