Mystery Shopping is a relatively new but effective market evaluation tactic. It is one of the fastest-growing and popular commercial practices used by companies to evaluate and examine their products and services as they reach their customers. Mystery shopping as an evaluation tool emerged somewhere around the 1940s but by 2010 it became a very popular assessment technique especially in the service sector. Mystery shopping is carried out with the intention to improve the customer service experience. Mystery Shopping Companies, Market Research Companies, or Watchdog organizations use this tool of mystery shopping to assess the quality of their product or service.
Who are Mystery Shoppers?
What actually happens in this process of mystery shopping is that a person is hired who is called the mystery shopper, and his or her job is to go to stores or outlets and purchase items just like any other customer.
However, the mystery shopper does not really go there with the purpose of shopping but to provide various information to the company that has hired him or her. This information includes the quality of the product and packaging, the price of the product or service, the display, the advertising, customer dealing, etc.
How is mystery shopping carried out?
The mystery shopping companies send their mystery shoppers to retail stores, hotels, restaurants, movie theaters, fast-food chains, banks, gas stations, government agencies, libraries, health care facilities, or any other place the company requires any specific information from. The establishment being evaluated generally is unaware of the identity, intent, and purpose of the mystery shopper.
The mystery shopper is required to purchase things, ask questions, observe certain things and behave a certain way to collect information and share their experience with the mystery shopping company. The mystery shoppers use tools like photographs, audio recordings, video recordings, etc. to pass on information.
Mystery Shopping Companies
There are different Mystery Shopping Companies which have different and defined parameters and procedure to audit the establishments. These companies hire their mystery shoppers or secret shoppers to answer some basic and some specific questions. They generally use tools like questionnaires and their personal experience to provide data.
The mystery shoppers are hired and managed by Mystery Shopping Companies to access physical locations, contact centers, visit apps, or websites and are provided with a predefined set of activities to be performed without any suspicion on the part of the establishment being evaluated.
What questions does Mystery Shopping answer?
Mystery Shopping is a market research tool ideally used for employee incentive programs and generally not used to punish or firing of employees. The mystery shopping companies mostly send their mystery shoppers to service sector establishments to have answers from them to questions like-
- If you were greeted at the entry?
- Was the greeting friendly?
- Types of products shown to you?
- Was there any extra service offered to you?
- Was there any recommendation from the staff?
- Were the recommendations useful?
- How quick was the service?
- What was the number of employees present in the outlet?
The demand for mystery shoppers has increased tremendously in the past few years because of the growing stiff competition, increased availability of goods and services, customer’s increased standard of quality, more emphasis on customer satisfaction, analysis of employee’s behavior to improve sales, etc.
How should a Mystery Shopper be?
- An ideal mystery shopper is a person who is honest and capable of speaking the truth when and where required.
- A mystery shopper needs to be unbiased and give real feedback without any guilt. They should know that it is their job to give feedbacks just as they found the store or whatever establishment they visited.
- A mystery shopper must be a good observer. Having good observational skills is a must for a person to be a mystery shopper as not everything can be told to him or her beforehand and he or she should be able to observe things on their own.
- Lastly, a mystery shopper must have good communication skills. If the mystery shopper is not able to communicate properly what they observed and how their experience was, then the whole process of the mystery shopping becomes a waste.
- Additionally, it is also necessary that the mystery shopper is not related or known to the shopkeeper or any of the employees to be able to have and share an unbiased experience.
Moreover, it not the easiest job to find reliable, trained, and good mystery shoppers for everyone. Also, it is advised not to repeat your mystery shoppers as this tool will stop working as an effective market research tool as soon as the establishment employees come to know that they are being evaluated. So, it becomes very important to search for a good mystery shopping company that understands your business and would be able to provide as many good and suitable mystery shoppers to you as you need. They are also capable of providing you with a mystery shopper anytime you want.
A good mystery shopping company hires its mystery shoppers with the utmost care and after proper evaluation. Therefore, the company that needs the information does that need to worry anything about who the mystery shopper is, where he or she is from, how do they look and behave, etc. All things are managed and cared for by the mystery shopping company.
Hiring a mystery shopping company is a great way to save valuable time that you can devote to improving your product and service quality and increasing your profit. The mystery shopping company provides all the information without you worrying about the process. Not only is it nearly impossible to find a mystery shopper from your contacts every time you need feedback on your product or service, it is always better the leave the job to the professionals. Mystery shopping is one of the fastest-growing market industries and they provide immense value for the money you invest in them. Hence, it is a wise decision on the part of a business owner to hire a mystery shopping company for their services in order to improve their own.