Mystery Shopping is a market research method that gathers information from the customer's point of view and the actual service conditions throughout. But to achieve this information wasn’t only using an anonymous shopper, but also needed to create a Mystery Shopping Checklist to store data.
What is a Mystery Shopping Checklist?
Mystery Shopping Checklist is a questionnaire that shoppers use to provide information after completing a shop inspection. It has a variety of questions mixed into the same questionnaire. The Mystery Shopping service company will collect and process the data from this questionnaire, summarize all the information and report the results of the examination to the client company.
What questions should the Mystery Shopping Checklist have?
The Mystery Shopping questionnaire used for each company is not always the same. Because each customer comes from a different industry, there are different things to check. Even businesses from the same industry may have different audit requirements or details. But we can summarize the important questionnaire categories, frequently encountered, and should be included in the questionnaire as follows:
What are the details of each category? Let's take a look.
The staff's friendliness and dedication
Businesses usually want to check our service personnel because it is a person who interacts with customers directly. The service quality depends on the staff themselves which is often checked including compliance with the given process, uniform and dress, willingness to work, and friendliness that is conveyed by words, tone of voice, or gestures.
The store environment
The next section that is often required to check is the location of services. Such as cleanliness, store organization, product arrangement, or condition of materials and equipment in the shop. This may include the placement of media to stimulate various sales as well because sometimes the customer company wants to check if each branch has a banner to promote new products that have just been sold or placed in a stand-out spot.
In addition to the overall site inspection, product placement checks are also important. Because it affects the sales of the products that are placed. They may check if there is a designated item on the shelf or if the shelf is always full of products. In addition, some customers of the company check the various promotional banners' placement as well.
Ability to handle customers
Sometimes the Mystery Shopping process may require the Shopper to ask questions or report problems to the staff to test the knowledge of the employee or check the readiness to solve immediate problems which are considered an important part of the service.
In this part of the question, many businesses tend to focus on the honesty of their employees. For example, asking if the change was received correctly or not or if the receipt is being delivered. Because employees often have fraudulent behavior in the payment process. But one thing that is often overlooked is checking the process and timing of payments Because it is part that affects customer satisfaction, such as employees taking too long to charge or being unable to pay with the desired payment method, etc.
Impression or overall experience
This section of the question is usually at the end of the questionnaire. It is intended to inquire about your impressions or feelings about the service received from the visit. Note that this section of the question will not be graded. Because it is a subjective question that allows Shoppers to express their feelings freely.
Although this section of the question is not scored. But the information obtained from this section of the question may lead to improvements in service development. Because sometimes you find that the service rating is good, but the Shopper is not impressed with the service they received. Because it lacks something that the shop doesn't have in the review criteria. So this section of the question may be more valuable to you than you might think.
If you are still not sure, Mystery Shopping service companies can provide advice on creating a survey questionnaire. The service standards or questionnaires that you already have can be converted into questionnaires suitable for examination and under your service policy.
There are many different brands in the world, but only a handful of brands we've ever seen or recognized. To make customers remember the brand, they must pass inspection and collect information with a Brand Audit.
What is a Brand Audit?
Brand Audit is the process of reviewing the whole picture of a brand throughout to see if the brand or its products are in the expected marketing position, check if customers remember the brand, and what kind of image they remember.
Why do a Brand Audit?
Brand Audit will give you an overview of the brand that is present in the market and the eyes of the customer. This allows us to plan our long-term business accordingly. The information obtained from the Brand Audit will help point out the market position or performance that must be improved to proceed as planned.
What does Brand Audit check?
Brand Audit can be divided into 3 groups as follows:
Benefits of doing a Brand Audit
Brand Audit has many benefits because the information obtained can be applied or expanded in a variety of creative ways. This allows improvement from the structural level and beyond. The benefits are as follows:
Overall, Brand Audit has many benefits such as having a work plan that can be put into practice and helps the brand develop in a better direction. It also helps to visualize the ongoing changes in the market which you can start doing yourself. But if you are not sure, hiring a brand audit company is another option that can save you time and effort.
The quality of customer service is an important factor that customers increasingly value more and more because even if your business has good quality and attractive products. If the service is not of quality, it may cause customers to decide not to buy that product or may even switch to other brands. These cause businesses to pay more attention to the quality of customer service. But what are the indicators of quality service?
Know your product
Many times, customers often come to ask for information about products, services, or promotions with employees. Employees should already have that knowledge to be able to answer customer questions immediately. It also creates an image of the service of employees. If you can't answer the question right away, offer alternatives or have other employees that know can also work.
Provide friendly service
Some companies use automated systems dealing with customers, such as automated call answering and forwarding systems, chatbots, or AI systems to reduce the cost of service personnel. But customers often prefer to receive services directly from the employees themselves. This is because customers will feel the care and intimacy of a company more than having to use automated response systems. For example, calling customers by their real names or nicknames during a conversation, sending happy birthday emails, or having one employee take care of the problem of that customer from start to finish, etc.
Response to customers quickly
When customers contact the business through any channel, they expect to receive a quick response. Because the delayed response will make the customer think that the company is not ready to serve. But at the same time, customers understand that complex issues require longer response times. Therefore, we should serve our customers with an emphasis on accuracy and completeness more than just speed.
Help customers solve problems by themselves
Sometimes, our customers don't want us to be a 100% solution, but only just need us to guide them so they can solve problems on their own. Because usually, when customers encounter problems, they tend to start fixing them by themselves first, and if they can’t, they will contact the company for help. Therefore, providing a solution for customers to fix by themselves is considered a good service and reduces the workload of taking care of customers as well.
Service that exceeds expectations
Customers tend to set expectations before they start using any product or service. It will make a special impression on customers, such as preparing drinks or snacks for customers while waiting for service, sending an email to notify the contact channel if there is a problem in using the product, or giving special privileges to customers who are loyal to the brand. These things are easily remembered by customers and encourage word-of-mouth.
Open to Customer Feedback
It's not easy for a customer to take the time to comment or suggest a company. Because customers must be attentive and willing enough to express their opinions. Therefore, we should always listen to our customers' opinions when they come in to show that we value our customers. If we can apply the suggestion to the business, our services will also meet the needs and create greater customer satisfaction.
Have a good attitude toward customer service
The last and most important thing is having a positive attitude towards the service work. This should be present in every employee at every level in the organization, not just the customer service staff. Because if we do not believe that good customer service will make customers happy and want to come back to use our services, it will cause the quality of customer service to be inferior as well.
All of these are indicative of the quality of customer service work. If our service includes these, We can be confident that our customers will remain with us wherever we go. However, customer needs are subject to change or addition at any time. Therefore, we should always keep an eye on the changes in our customers. To ensure that our service continues to respond well to customers.
Mystery Shopping has long been a way of verifying a business and is still popular today. But why do many businesses use Mystery Shopping to continuously monitor their business processes?
Obtaining audit information that meets the objectives
Doing business requires constant monitoring of different parts of the business such as work process, employee performance, or shop decoration. The Mystery Shopping audits have a clear objective of what they want to be audited for and what information is needed in specific parts.
Check customer satisfaction and experience
The important thing that businesses need to focus on is customer satisfaction and customer experiences of using products or services of customers because it affects the purchasing decision of the customer. The businesses that provide the best and most satisfying experiences, the customers will turn to the services of that business. Mystery Shopping can check both of these areas very well and point out the areas that still need to be improved.
Get information from the customer's point of view
The Shoppers used in Mystery Shopping are all customers who already have experience using the services of a business, so that experience can be used in conjunction with the review to obtain information from the perspective of hard-to-find customers and can be used to improve business development according to the needs of customers.
Compare with competitors
In addition to monitoring your own business, Mystery Shopping can also be used to monitor competitors' businesses. You can check what are the strengths and weaknesses of your business and competitors in the same market, what parts can you develop to outperform competitors, or fix the weaknesses to improve your service.
Evaluate new products or services
Launching a new product or service always carries risks. Therefore, many businesses use Mystery Shopping to check new products and services as well. Because what you expect or set goals may be inconsistent with reality. Mystery Shopping will help you instantly know where your goals are or where the problems that need to be fixed are.
Assess employees realistically
Employee assessments are generally done internally with prior notice. This may cause the working conditions seen at the time of inspection to be inconsistent with reality. But Mystery Shopping can fix this by sending the shoppers an anonymous check which the employees don’t know they're being inspected. This will reveal potential hidden problems.
Identify outstanding branches or employees
By doing Mystery Shopping, you can clearly see the performance of each branch and which branch performs outstandingly or any branch that needs to be improved to be as good as other branches, allowing businesses to quickly recognize and improve the efficiency of inferior branches and can also award prizes to outstanding branches or employees to encourage work and set an example for other branches and employees in the organization as well.
Improve employee performance
Once Mystery Shopping has made us aware of the performance of your employees or branches, you can build upon it by planning the staff development where there are still deficiencies. Such as organizing training seminars, creating a working manual, or arranging training courses according to what needs to be improved appropriately.
If you use Mystery Shopping to develop or validate various sectors of your business, you will take full advantage of the information you receive, which can be used for further improvement or business planning in the future.
Many people may be interested in using Mystery Shopping services for their own business but aren't sure if the service will be worth it or not. Today, we're going to summarize the pros and cons of Mystery Shopping so you can see if it's right for your business.
Advantages of Mystery Shopping
Evaluate the brand's compliance with standards
Every business has a set of work standards for employees to follow. But we can't always keep an eye on whether employees are always up to the standard. Mystery Shopping can help solve this problem because the shopper can be sent for examination anonymously, revealing the real working conditions of employees and whether they comply with the brand's standards.
Improve customer service
By doing Mystery Shopping, we can see some areas of service that can be improved, such as having employees always speak politely, serving food without making any noise, or increasing the speed of service. In addition to the service from the staff, Kiosk services, applications, or after-sales service contacts can also be improved.
Evaluate customer experience
Even if the employees follow the brand's standards or have good service, that doesn't mean the customer experience is good. Because there may be something that can make customers dissatisfied, for example, the product claim process has too many steps, the shop space is cramped and walking is not convenient, or taking too long to apply for membership. Mystery shopping can help identify areas where customers have had a bad experience while entering the service.
Keep employees alert at all time
If we notify employees that Mystery Shopping is used to monitor employee performance, they will be alert and more enthusiastic. Because they don't know which customer is a shopper which makes employees always perform at a high level.
Identify employees with inappropriate behavior
If there is a problem during the inspection, Shopper can tell exactly what's going on and identify which employees are behaving inappropriately. You can notify that employee to improve their behavior quickly.
Get feedback from quality customers
With Mystery Shopping, the shopper will summarize all service access across the board and point out where it did well or create a good impression. Also, the points that should be improved to make the service better and pleasing to customers.
Mystery Shopping is not limited to checking our own business alone, it can also check the work and services of competitors. The examination of competitors will allow us to compare what strengths and weaknesses our business has with competitors in the same industry, where we are better than competitors, and where the competitors are superior. This allows us to use this information to develop our business to be comparable or superior to competitors.
Disadvantages of Mystery Shopping
There is a cost to doing Mystery Shopping. Because it requires preparation time to select and train a qualified shopper that meets the target customer group of a certain business, a charge for products or services, and a quality control process with a summarized report.
Business owners or those involved in the quality of service may misunderstand that Mystery Shopping is free and not prepare a budget.
Employees may become anxious or dissatisfied
When we notify employees of the use of Mystery Shopping services, some may have concerns or dissatisfaction because it may be seen that the company does not trust their work, or feel uncomfortable. After all, they’re constantly being watched by the company. These conflicts often arise in companies that already have trust issues in the organization. And it often occurs in organizations where management or quality supervisors want to use Mystery Shopping to catch employees' mistakes.
Mystery Shopping is a great opportunity to rethink the thought paradigm of executives and improve communication within the organization. If we do not communicate well enough with employees on this matter or use this service to cavil them mainly, it may result in a decrease in the performance of employees.
Information provided by Shoppers may be biased
Since each Shopper has a different background, whether gender, age, occupation, society, or attitude, if they are not trained to understand Shopper's work, it may cause the information that Shopper gives to be misleading or biased. For example, Shoppers may find that the staff did something wrong but feel sympathetic towards them, so they provide information to help that employee.
Companies that specialize in Mystery Shopping recognize the importance of Shopper training and can also advise the brand on what types of questions should not be included in the review.
With all that said, you can see that Mystery Shopping has many advantages that are worth using and some downsides are worth considering too. Now you can decide if Mystery Shopping is right for your business.
You can find lots of mystery shopping providers via online with so many options available. But figuring out how to choose the right mystery shopping provider for your business can be more overwhelming than you think.
If you choose the right one, there are plenty of benefits that you stand to gain from hiring them.
In this article, we will provide the 7 pro tips that would narrow down in hiring the potential mystery shopping providers to ensure their services align with your business needs.
1. Research company background
Just as there are plenty of mystery shopping providers available, there can also be scam providers. You shouldn’t trust every online advertisement trying to sell you mystery shopping services. You should start your research by simply checking out the website like the Mystery Shopping Providers Association, which is designed to protect from the infinite number of scams out there. You can find out plenty about them just by visiting the trusted website like that.
2. Stop by in Person
Although this is not a must do, it is better if you can check the legitimacy of a company by simply stopping by its office. Legitimate providers have a business address listed somewhere on their page which you can check by the address.
3. Check their Profession
If you are sure that they are not the scam one, then check whether they have years of experience and success designing mystery shopping programs for companies in your industry. It is really important in hiring mystery shopping provider. You can ask for their list of references and peruse the list of past clients that have used them before. It will give you a clear review whether they are reliable for your business.
4. Look forward to their support
We suggest to work with a provider that has an in-house review team. Review teams will assess the results of your program and make sure all the information provided by shoppers is accurate and complete before it gets delivered to you. This ensures you receive a quality report.
5. Review selection of mystery shoppers
Depending on your goals, your shop may require lengthy interactions with your staff or detailed shopper responses. In these cases, you want to make sure the selected shoppers are the right fit for the job. Most of experienced providers have access to a large database of certified shoppers and have the ability to pick shoppers based on their rating.
6. Check feedback system
Feedbacks are really important. They will not only help you measure the right aspects of your businesses performance, but also provide actionable results through high-quality data analysis and reporting. This helps you create a program that will empower you to improve customer experience. That’s why look for experienced companies who can develop both a questionnaire and data and then uncover your specific needs.
7. Don’t be cheap
Remember you always got what you pay for. The cheaper the charges, the more likely it is a scam in some capacity.
Providing positive experiences for customer can dramatically impact your business growth. Nowadays, customer service can often take a back seat to the daily demands of running your business. Therefore, keeping a customer happy and satisfied has become more important. Around 60% of businesses consider customer service as the top priority for their businesses. Here are some important reasons why customer service is always vital to the success of your business.
Customer retention is cheaper than customer acquisition in fact. Ultimately, investing in customer service can decrease your churn rate, the amount you must spend on acquiring new customers, and the overall CAC as great customer service will result in maximum customer retention.
Your Brand Image, Mission, and Values
An idea of what brand you represent is essential for your business. Your customers will make assumptions depending on your social media presence, advertisements, content, and other external marketing. However, your customer service team is your main connection to your customers. A marketer’s duty does not actually end once a deal is closed. The customer service team has bigger responsibility of representing your brand to them as they can help influence customers and convince them of your strengths over competitors.
Therefore, great customer service programs should focus on the treating customers very well, answering their questions, and exceeding their expectations to get customer satisfaction and trouble free journey for your customers. Your ethics, values, and history can help you win more customers in your future while retaining your existing customer base.
Higher Conversion Rate
The conversion rate of your business is definitely affected by the type of service that you provide to the customers as this is vital in generating business for your brand. If your brand was unable to deliver good customer service in time, your customers might take it to the Internet to rant and give negative comments about your service which can make your sales crashing down. If customers are happy and satisfied with your service, they leave positive comments and feedback on your social media profiles that can create a positive effect on your sales.
Able to Prevent Business Failure
About 96 percent of some businesses have been closed their doors within 10 years. The main fact of contributing problems is less focus on the customer service. The customers become frustrated over small problems, which are not addressed like unclear communication, poor follow up on questions, or ignored their requests.
Reduces Employee Turnover
Most employees desire to work for businesses which value and appreciate their worker contributions, encourage new ideas, and treat customers fairly. If people work for an employer who provides excellent customer service, they can be more engaged in their work and then, become an advocate for the business as they are more willing to stick with the company through the business challenges and the economic changes.
Every business is valuable to offer something to their customers like educating to the customer about a product or service not to face any problems.
If your company is interested in assessing and identifying the quality of your customer service, conducting a customer satisfaction audit could prove quite beneficial. The customer experience may be the most important aspect of your business’s operations in the coming years.
A customer experience audit is a critical step in the process of customer experience management. The audit maps out the journey of your customer through multiple channels. The results of the analysis can serve as the foundation for development of a concrete action program. It can be used to increase your organization's level of customer satisfaction as well.
Performing a customer experience audit helps you understand the breadth of touch-points that affect customer experience and loyalty, establish medium- to long-term customer experience management (CEM) strategies that can help you to implement a sustainable, cross-departmental CEM program, and identify high-priority areas for improvement as well as which values are most important at which points in the customer journey.
The mapping process can be started by defining the behavioral stages a typical customer will go through, and developing outline specific touch-points through each stage and channel. First you need to try to understand your customers and their behaviors and identify ways to align your journey more closely with their stated desires and create a detailed recommendations report.
By performing a customer experience audit, you can identify:
There are other types of audit you can perform to allow you gain knowledge of what areas you need to improve.
A Brand Audit enables you to identify your brand’s strengths and weaknesses together with opportunities for innovation and growth. Brands are like living entities with life cycles. A brand audit health check helps you monitor this cycle so you can keep your brand fresh and relevant. A brand audit also enables you to identify new areas for innovation and growth.
The primary function of a Retail Merchandiser is to perform an in-store audit, both standard Retail Audits, and Trade Compliance Audits. Retail Audits are typically performed on a periodic basis. They are used to make sure that products are displayed in an ensuring way for customers to find the products in the most appealing ways.
Compliance Audits are performed to coincide with special promotions that a manufacturer negotiates with retailers and to ensure that the product is being promoted as agreed both in displaying and pricing.
An Internal Audit is an important component to ensuring optimal performance of a quality management system. Internal audits can lead to a variety of benefits for your company if you utilize the results in an effective way. The goal of an internal audit is to gather information about the effectiveness of the quality system. The internal audit report will provide a summary of the investigation and offer key observations in which your company can improve from.
The duty of a mystery shopper involves performing visits, telephone calls, web-based inquiries, or accessing other means of services of the client’s businesses, acting as a typical customer. If you are a mystery shopper, you’ll act as a real-life customer in order to give feedback and reports about the service and the overall customer experience. Then, your client company will receive an analysis report, created by all collected information, and make effective changes in their customer experience platform.
To become a successful mystery shopper, you need to be good at a few different things. Improving your mystery shopping skills will help you get more jobs and earn more money in the future. The following is a list of 8 must-have characteristics of an awesome mystery shopper.
1. Follow the directions
The first thing to do as a mystery shopper is to follow directions. You should evaluate the information exactly what the client wants. Follow their instructions and perform what they want you to do within the correct amount of time to get a good report on time.
2. Eye for detail
Aware all the provided instructions before you go out for shopping. When you start your mission, make sure to notice if the customer service person is smiling, if the counter is clean, and be cognizant of anything else the client is interested in. Your report also needs to be clear and specific.
3. Dress appropriately and act as a normal shopper
Don’t show any signs of being a mystery shopper. Dress naturally as an average consumer and present yourself like that. If you are noticeable as a mystery shopper, you’ll be treated differently by the employees, which will ruin the integrity of the data.
4. Be reliable
The ability to perform and submit assignments promptly on time is a must because most companies have deadlines. A good mystery shopper arrives at the needed time and do correctly. So, if you fail to complete in time, the data collected by the mystery shopping vendor will be affected and that will also hurt your own chances.
5. Be honest
Honesty is paramount for mystery shoppers because it is an important trait of great mystery shoppers as well as the core criterion relationship between mystery shopper and vendor. As the company is paying you for your honest report, try to evaluate ones.
6. Good memory skills
You can’t work without taking notes for your report, yet it’ll be too strange or obvious if you walk around with a pen and notepad inside the shop. So, take mental notes first and then you can write the report straight away after you leave the shop.
7. Be good at writing
Every mystery shopper has to write reports. As being specific is important, write the information clearly and make sure to point out the details. Edit your report before submitting and look for common language errors.
8. Be organized
As there’s so much data being collected, being organized in reporting can provide insurance for you.
Mystery Shopping is a process of visiting a retail store, restaurant, bank branch, or any such location by a person with the objective of measuring the quality of customer experience, usually used by organizations and businesses to evaluate their employee performance, to confirm compliance in the workplace, to collect the information to improve the quality of products and services and also to identify areas for improvement to obtain an edge over competitors.
Mystery shoppers are usually freelancers. They visit the location by pretending like a customer and note the things they have been asked to measure. Then, they report the data to the mystery shopping company, called mystery shopping agency, who compiles and analyzes the data gathered from the different locations to help their clients. Mystery shoppers can help businesses in the following aspects:
Customer satisfaction and experience
All businesses want to know what customers think when they walk into stores, how to go through the purchasing process, and how they leave with the items they purchased. This is extremely important while they are trying to find the ways to innovate and grow the customer base of the company. Without the reports, companies can’t find out on the important information and ideas about their business.
Audit of company's employees
Mystery shopping can also provide the insight into how employees are interacting with customers. When a manager or supervisor is not around, it can be difficult to know how employees engage with the customers. Since mystery shoppers are tasked with interacting and provide the names of the people they interacted with, it can help to ensure that employees of store are conducting themselves correctly and giving customers the best experience.
Future employees and training
Mystery shopping can give not only information about current employees, but also an insight as to what the company should look for in the future employees. By identifying areas where employees usually lack, either skills or competencies, the information received can help companies improve their training processes.
Pros and Cons of Mystery Shopping
There are many pros of mystery shopping.
Customer feedback: Through a mystery shopper, customer perspective can be noted, such as the establishment’s ambiance, the kind of service that customers get, the overall cleanliness of the place, and how employees present themselves, which are some invaluable information.
Reinforce and verify policies: Verification is needed if different branches or departments follow newly cascaded policies and if those rolled out directives are effective across the board.
Check on your competitors: Comparing the services and products that you can provide by the competition on which areas you can improve on to gain an edge over your competitors.
There are also cons in mystery shopping.
Insufficient data: A reliable checklist, which the secret shopper can depend on, can provide directions to observe or to look out for.
Personal bias: With the biases, mystery shopper can be influenced by circumstances of the day.
Upset employees: The secrecy surrounding mystery shopping can make uncomfortable and may cause anxiety to the employees.
HS Brands Team