Mystery shopping is a marketing tool used externally by companies in their research. Usually the identity and intent of the shopper is not revealed to the chosen establishment or its employees.
This form of market research is highly sort after by survey panellists, as in addition to having higher rewards than the usual surveys. It can be also exciting and interesting.
For the companies that use this kind of research, the information they receive help them get an insight into how other businesses and stores operate. A client may, without informing the employees, even do a survey rating of their own business or store.
There are specific steps to follow for both the shopper and the client who wants the report. The client will usually outline a program that ensures they get the results they need to benefit their business, before actually engaging the mystery shopper.
To take full advantage of the data received from a mystery shopper, the client should have a plan in place of how they are going to use the information. This would include a list of key questions they want answered and shoppers should be advised on the specifics in writing e-mail or by phone to avoid any confusion.
Based on the requirements, mystery shoppers might visit locations and pose as typical customers while observing and recording the operations, including service, as well as employee attitudes and behavior.
The process of mystery shopping usually begins with goals which outline what is expected from the shopper’s experience. The details are important to the client as well as to the shopper so that when the report is sent to the client, it can be properly checked and processed.
There are categories which are mostly always included in mystery shopping evaluations. The most common regular shopping experience is where a person enter a store, buys something and leaves. It makes sense therefore that more than just customer service be evaluated by mystery shoppers.
Here are some of the common areas that a mystery shopper may be asked to evaluate:
A mystery shopper must always be consistent during shopping evaluations when visiting different stores. It is important to ask the same product questions and be as objective as possible. This will give you the confidence when you get mystery shopping opportunities to instinctively know what to look for.
When a mystery shopper has evaluated a business similar to yours, the data can be used to make comparisons to your store or business when you analyse the data.
But there is another way to get an unbiased perception of your business, especially if you feel the company may be losing business and many customers are not becoming repeat clients.
A well-planned, secret shopping operation, of which your employees should not be made aware can provide you with impartial information to identify where any problems might be.
Studies have revealed that even one dissatisfied customer can cost you plenty of business. Customers who go away with an unhappy experience at your store may not complain to management, but may mention it to friends or family and never return to shop at your place again.
A secret, impartial appraisal can be used to change or improve policy processes where necessary, as well as upgrade your training and performance standards.
When done correctly, a simple shopping experience can reveal a lot about a company and help them make important decisions about products, marketing and future business plans.
Once your shopping trip has been completed, it is important to send the info back to the client as soon as possible. This is usually done by completing a questionnaire, or writing a report outlining the details of the mystery shopping evaluations.
Take great care to ensure that the information you send is accurately and efficiently presented. A good performance on your part, will greatly increase your chances of gaining more mystery shopping assignments.
When you completely appreciate, understand the benefits of mystery shopping and how it can help your business, you will instinctively know which kind of shops could help improve your performance in the market place.
Secret evaluation of your own company will also give you insight of where service or performance hassles may lie. This innovative way of doing market research is becoming more and more popular for companies who want to improve their service and products.
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