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.