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Mystery Shopping Programs

Hire Mystery Shoppers for your Bookstore

If you operate a bookstore, whether it’s a small independent bookshop or a large chain of bookstores, mystery shoppers can let you know whether you’re meeting all your goals and expectations for performance and customer satisfaction.

While you can accomplish this through customer surveys, keep in mind that 1) very few people take customer surveys, and it will take a while to amass enough responses to get meaningful results, and 2) you’re likely to get more complaints than positive responses, which can skew the total survey results. Rather than balanced or even positive skew results, the complaints may make it look like the bookstore is totally failing and just needs to be shut down.

This the problem when you rely on surveys to deliver your customer experience results: bad data in means bad results coming out.

This is also where mystery shoppers can show you what the surveys can’t.

Use mystery shoppers to assess your bookstore's customer experience.For one thing, mystery shoppers are completely objective. They aren’t reporting only on good experiences or bad experiences. They’re telling you what they experienced. But you can’t just rely on one or two shoppers to paint the total picture. Get several in there each month and look for patterns and trends.

You can also find out who your top performing employees are. Rather than just looking for employees who make mistakes, use the mystery shoppers to help you find the people who excel and do well. Of course, you’ll also want to look for training opportunities for the people who need work, but don’t just use mystery shoppers as a gotcha form of discipline.

If you operate a large bookstore chain and have to cover a lot of properties, you may want to focus several mystery shoppers on a specific region for a time. This can give you an idea of what you should be looking for in the rest of the country, and establish a baseline for what you can expect.

You can ask mystery shoppers to do a number of things and have the results reported right back to you via the mystery shopping app or dashboard:

  1. How clean are the bathrooms and the general store area?
  2. Are the shelves neatly arranged and stacked? Are books put away properly?
  3. Are things easy to find? Is the signage clear and easy to understand?
  4. Ask the shopper to ask for a book you don’t carry. Did the sales associate offer to order it? (Ask them to order it too.) How easy is it to get that done?
  5. Were the associates friendly and helpful? Were they knowledgeable about the books you asked them to find?

Mystery shopping at a bookstore is like any other business: you want to make sure your customers have a good experience, that your staff is knowledgeable, and that your facilities are clean and well-presented. This is something Measure CP can help you do.

To learn more about using mystery shoppers in your bookstore, please visit our website. You can also speak to one of our mystery shopping experts to create your own program.

Photo credit: Martin Cathrae (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

Mystery Shopping Programs

Hire Mystery Shoppers for your Bookstore

Have you ever heard the term “chatbots?” Do you understand what it means?

It’s basically a bot — a small computer program that acts like a human — that can have a conversation with you. It’s sort of like the old Eliza computer program you could have a conversation with. You would ask it a question or make a statement, and it would repeat back to you in a way.

You: I’m sad? Eliza: Why are you sad? You: I’m sad because my car wouldn’t start. Eliza: Why wouldn’t your car start?

And so on. She never really answered your questions, you did. Sort of like therapy. In fact, if you listen to the Radiolab podcast episode where they talk about Eliza, you can hear a few stories of people just pouring their hearts out to Eliza, even knowing she was a computer program.

Well, chatbots work like that, but they’re a little more sophisticated than Eliza was 30 years ago.

Bots can be a part of a mobile feedback mystery shopping program. Picture of a hand holding a phone near a computer.People use chatbots in financial institutions, asking questions about account balances or moving money around. The travel industry uses them for booking flights and hotels, as well as checking on flight status. They’re used in customer service, answering questions on certain websites that you visit. (You didn’t really think Kevin was actually online waiting for you to online chat with him at 2:00 AM, did you?)

So why not use chatbots as part of your mystery shopping?

Chatbots, or any kind of bot, use artificial intelligence and machine learning to plow through large piles of data, as well as examine past conversations to learn how they’re supposed to answer. In that sense, chatbots can help themselves grow and learn.

(Just, you know, make sure there’s an easy-to-reach off switch so we’re not all fighting an army of Geico Insurance terminator robots in the next five years.)

The great thing about using chatbots for mystery shopping is that you can use them to engage customers as part of a mobile feedback system.

For example, when asking customers for feedback, you can ask them to provide more detailed information, such as something they specifically liked about their experience, or something they did not. And if there are important details missing in an answer, the chatbot can prompt the customer to give more information.

They can also use pre-determined/canned responses to get customers to provide additional feedback — “That sounds interesting. Tell me more.” And they can even be used to turn around and encourage people to follow up with another visit — “It sounds like you had a good time. Would you like to schedule another reservation in a few weeks?”

They can even be used as a part of a phone survey system, where the bot asks questions, receives spoken answers, and then translate that into quantitative data that can be further studied.

Bots can even handle simple conversations, such as making reservations or handling customer satisfaction surveys so you don’t need to use up your staff time to do it. If you wanted to do a phone survey of 1,000 people, you’re limited by the number of people you can hire to do this sort of work. But with a chatbot, you can double and triple your biggest number of staff members and still do the surveys in a fraction of the time.

If you would like to learn how to use bots as a mystery shopping solution, please visit our website. You can also speak to one of our mobile feedback experts to help you develop your own mystery shopper program for your own business.

Photo credit: John Jackson (Pexels.com, Creative Commons 0)

Mystery Shopping Programs

Hire Mystery Shoppers for your Bookstore

I read recently where Indian Railways are going to begin using mystery shoppers as a way to check on the quality of their services.

In a “first-of-its-kind step,” mystery shoppers will pose as regular train passengers in order to check the service standards provided by the national railway.

Since train travel is a major source of transportation — many countries have more extensive and usable public transportation than the United States — and because they provide so many other services like food and beverages, Indian Railways is setting up the mystery shopper program.

Upper Deck of Lucknow Double Decker Express in India. Indian Railways will begin using mystery shoppers soon to check their services.According to an article in the Financial Express, the shoppers will “. . . secretly check the standards of services being provided by the national transporter, including food, staff behaviour, amenities for passengers, quality of trains and of railway stations.”

The passengers will also check the railway’s passenger interface, including the trains and railway stations, plus I imagine, the ticket sales. They’ll be rated on predetermined parameters, and those results will be uploaded to the Railway Board’s web-based dashboard for review and any corrective action.

The Railway Board is still hammering out a lot of the policy details, including how many mystery shoppers they will use (right now, they’re discussing whether to start with 50), although there are currently more than 40,000 daily inspections at all levels, including surprise checks.

But — and this is where using mystery shoppers are important — people behave differently when there are known inspections taking place. Just like store and restaurant employees will be on their best behavior when the manager is around, but may slack off a bit when the manager is gone, I’m sure these railway employees will behave differently when they know a regular inspection is occurring.

Since the identities of these mystery shoppers will be kept a secret — that’s why it’s a mystery, folks! — the Indian Railways employees can never be sure whether they’re being checked. As a result, the staff will hopefully practice better behavior since they can never be sure whether they’re being watched or not.

Measure CP provides mystery shopping services for all kinds of businesses, from restaurants to retail stores, from gas and service stations to car dealers. If you ever need mystery shoppers for your own transportation agency, please visit our website. You can also speak to one of our experts to help you develop your own mystery shopper program for your own business.

Photo credit: Zahaib.m (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 3.0 & GNU Free Documentation License)

Mystery Shopping Programs

Hire Mystery Shoppers for your Bookstore

When you think about mystery shopping and compliance, you usually don’t think of marketing compliance. There’s age compliance checks for alcohol and tobacco, and marijuana compliance checks in those states that sell marijuana legally. There can even be compliance safety checks at businesses where safety is a prime concern.

But we don’t really talk about what I like to call marketing compliance checks. These are the checks a brand might want performed on their franchise owners to ensure they’re posting the month’s latest promotional signage and materials.

A Subway in Texas. A mystery shopping agency can help with a marketing compliance check here, looking for proper signage.For example, brands like Subway, Dairy Queen, and McDonald’s are often franchisee-owned, but all of the promotional materials comes from the corporate office. Otherwise, every franchise would have their own separate promotions, their own graphic designs, and as a result, different levels of quality of their promotional materials.

So to avoid all of that, the corporate headquarters will produce all of the materials, usually in-house, and then send it to all of their franchisees with strict instructions on when to put them up. They usually up on on the 1st of the month, but many times, they have until the 5th.

Of course, they can’t be sure the franchisee didn’t actually get the signage and promotional materials up in the first place. There are too many to visit, or they’re spaced too far apart, or the regional manager doesn’t have time to get to them all in a couple of days.

If a restaurant brand — or even a retail clothing store — is running a national campaign, you can’t very well spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on it and then have a few franchisees who mess it up for their own region because they didn’t put their posters up until the 15th.

This is where a mystery shopping agency can step up and help out. With the help of a small army of mystery shoppers, a corporate marketing department can determine when all the franchises are in compliance with their monthly promotional activities.

The mystery shopper can snap a couple of quick photos of the promotional materials that have been put up, upload those to the corporate brand’s account, and the marketing staff can ensure that all materials are in place by the deadline.

And you can kill two birds with one stone by asking the shopper to perform other checks, such as bathroom cleanliness, employee friendliness, and food tastiness.

(Sorry, I was trying to rhyme everything.)

Since mystery shopping agencies spend a lot of their time already doing restaurant shops, checking out food quality and facility cleanliness, it’s easy enough to ask the shoppers to do a marketing compliance check at the same time. (Or to do a bathroom check while they’re on a marketing compliance shop.)

If you’re going to spend a lot of money every month ensure that your franchisees have the latest and best marketing materials, doesn’t it make sense to ensure they’re actually using them? Marketing compliance checks can help you to make sure every franchise of your brand has the right signage, promotional materials, ingredients, and even the pricing in place. To learn more, please visit our website. You can also speak to one of our marketing compliance experts and get many of your questions answered.

Photo credit: Cxshawx (Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)

Mystery Shopping Programs

Hire Mystery Shoppers for your Bookstore

If your store is suffering from loss and shrinkage — the polite term for shoplifting, employee theft, and even bad inventory management — you can help reduce it with mystery shoppers.

We’re not saying mystery shoppers should serve as store security or undercover theft prevention. Rather, they can help you find any holes or lax procedures that may be contributing to some of these problems.

In a normal day, mystery shoppers will visit a business, make a purchase, check the cleanliness of the bathrooms, confirm whether certain promotional items are in place, whether the staff was friendly, and so on.

So it’s possible to create a loss prevention program just by doing some of these same checks, plus you get the added bonus of seeing whether your stores are meeting your expectations and requirements.

A shoplifting sign shouldn't be your only loss prevention methodTo start with, are customers greeted as soon as they walk in the door? Do they check in with customers who are “just browsing?” I’ll admit, some shoppers can be pretty mean and cutting to the store staff. They’ll snarl at the retail associates and demand they be left alone. (And then they complain when no one falls all over themselves to help them.) But don’t let a few mean people take the wind out of your associates’ sails — make sure they check in with each and every shopper who comes through your doors, and check in with them more than once. If potential shoplifters think they’re being watched, they’re less likely to try to steal something.

Are your valuable items locked up? I know men can’t pick out their own replacement razor blades without going through a background check and clearing two security checkpoints (I’m exaggerating!), but I’ve seen other valuable items left unattended when they’re supposed to be locked up. And I once watched a shoplifter walk into a store, grab an armful of leather coats, and walk out again. It was only the store manager following the shoplifter that made him drop the coats. A mystery shopper can go into a store and see if the more valuable merchandise is locked up.

Is there at least one associate on the floor? Not ringing someone up, actually watching the floor. A lot of stores make the mistake of having only one employee available when things get really slow. This is a bad idea from a security personal safety standpoint anyway, but it also means that you have fewer eyes watching the incoming shoppers. If one associate is ringing up people’s purchases, they’re not actually watching what’s happening on the floor, and that inattentiveness can give shoplifters a chance to grab and go.

Do you have a bag checkin? Some stores have gotten strict about allowing people to bring large bags into their stores, and will check their bags behind the counters. I’ll admit, it’s annoying to be asked to check my bag if I walk into a store, but I also understand why it has to be done. Check people’s bags and return them as soon as the shoppers leave the store. (It also doesn’t hurt to check your associates’ bags when they clock out; a lot of stores do this.)

Are you doing any internal investigations? Some retail HR departments will sometimes hire mystery shoppers to help gather evidence into any kind of internal investigation. For example, a store with high shrinkage might have mystery shoppers look for anything unusual within the store, such as associates not following certain procedures or improperly processing returns. A mystery shopper could buy some items, document and return them, and management can compare those returns and see if everything was done properly or if something is amiss.

While mystery shoppers are not necessarily loss prevention security officers, they can at least help you detect a pattern of misbehavior or even just negligence among your staff. Based on their findings, you can make any staff changes, beef up your training, or even create new policies and procedures to deter shoplifting and shrinkage.

To learn more about mystery shopping and loss prevention, please visit the Measure CP website. You can speak with one of our retail experts and learn more about how we can help you reduce shrinkage in your stores.

Photo credit: Mike Mozart (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

Mystery Shopping Programs

Hire Mystery Shoppers for your Bookstore

Insurance companies need more than a little help in their online web portals. A mystery shopper, Ellen Carney, who is actually a principal analyst for Forrester Research, found out that trying to buy life insurance online can be more than a little challenging

In a story on InsuranceNewsNet.com, Carney — going under the pseudonym “Alice” — went through the phone call and website process of buying term coverage with several different insurance companies. She found the process to be less than helpful. Or successful.

Carney rated seven insurance companies across 11 categories, and what she found was not too surprising nor unexpected.

A paper life insurance form. Insurance companies can hire a mystery shopper to make sure their sales and marketing channels are functioning properly.According to the story, Carney rated MassMutual with 66 points, while New York Life scored the lowest with 30. John Hancock barely broke 30, while Lincoln, Ladder, Northwestern Mutual, and Prudential all scored 50 – 56.

Part of the problem is that while “Alice” got several some sort of followup from brokers and agents, whether it was an email or many, many phone calls, others never bothered to followup with the woman who had actually initiated an online purchase.

Basically, here was someone signing up to give them money, and they couldn’t be bothered to call the person back to take it.

Part of the problem, said the article, was that life insurers have not paid close attention to their online sales channels or tried to develop them and make them easier to use. They blamed falling sales commissions as a reason that agents won’t chase customers who abandoned an online shopping cart.

Bottom line, if someone expressed enough of an interest to start the sales process, there’s probably some small, easy-to-fix reason for their quitting. Salespeople call these objections, and they have entire books of scripts to help overcome them. So just follow up and see if you can snag that sale!

Another issue is that many times there’s a disconnect between the sales and marketing departments. It’s like that scene from Glengarry Glen Ross where Sales says the leads are shit, while Marketing says the leads are good.

This is where a mystery shopper program can make a big difference. While Alice was just one mystery shopper doing research for an industry report, a mystery shopping agency can help an insurance company find out any holes in their lead generation and sales process.

With the right kind of program, insurance companies can have mystery shoppers set up a program where people pretend to buy insurance, going online to make a purchase, and then assessing and measuring the performance of the salespeople who follow up. Or they can even find people who are already going to buy life insurance and ask them to rate the entire process.

Regardless, a mystery shopping agency can help you set up a mystery shopper program for your entire company, whether you want to measure your marketing efforts, your sales team, or even your customer service department. To learn more, please contact Measure CP and ask to speak to one of our mystery shopping experts.

Photo credit: Investment Zen (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

Mystery Shopping Programs

Hire Mystery Shoppers for your Bookstore

Have you ever wanted to be a mystery shopper for a kingdom?

I mean, if it could get us into the royal wedding, that would be pretty great. If I could visit the Queen of England, maybe hang out with a couple of Dukes or something, that would be great.

Ooh, or hang out with Queen Máxima of Orange, married to King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands.

Except that’s not what that means.

Actually, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, through Adaa, the National Center for Performance Management is launching a mystery shopping app that allows people to measure any service on the spot.

A mystery shopper (actually, any user), can rate a facility’s readiness, its employees’ performance, and the clarity of their procedures.

Adaa reports to the Council of Ministers and operates under the chairmanship of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Adaa General Director Husam Madani told ArabNews.com that performance measurement is important for Saudi Arabia to achieve a responsibly enabled nation.


“Adaa’s mandate is to measure government performance and measure satisfaction with the public services provided by government entities. When you connect the mandate to the two sub-pillars, measuring government performance plays part in achieving an effectively governed nation, and measuring beneficiary satisfaction plays part in achieving a responsibly enabled nation,” said Madani.
 Madani said that the mystery shopper would visit a government office, make his observations, and then put their observations and results into a report that gets shared with that agency’s management.

“Mystery shoppers rate the facility readiness, employee performance and clarity of procedures,” Madani said. “We also measure initiatives, specific initiatives that have been funded for organizations and we closely look at the outcome, we do not look at the progress. Third, we measure citizen satisfaction.”
 It’s not often that we hear about a mystery shopper getting to rate a government agency, certainly not in this country (or at least not very often). So we’re a bit envious that Saudi Arabia would create a program where people rate their government agencies, and the agencies are expected to respond and improve based on the mystery shopper reports.

However, we don’t really expect a lot of government agencies to go out of their way to seek ways to improve. For one thing, there’s no competition. It’s not like you can go to another agency or corporation to get your driver’s license or a copy of your birth certificate.

Still, we’re always eager to help any government agency, whether federal, state, or local who seeks to improve their services. If you would like to start a mystery shopper program to help with your government agency, nonprofit organization, or multi-national cooperative, please contact us and ask to speak to one of our mystery shopping program experts.

Mystery Shopping Programs

Hire Mystery Shoppers for your Bookstore

When it comes to age compliance checks and retailers, there’s really no better way to check for proper ID checks than to use mystery shopping. And Canada must be doing something right, because a 2017 age compliance checks campaign showed that 91% of their National Lottery retailers properly asked for ID as proof of age on their first mystery shopper visit.

That’s a 2% improvement from 2016 and a 5% improvement on 2015.

We can’t even get that for alcohol age compliance checks here in the United States.

The lottery operator Camelot has conducted their mystery shopping programme (we spelled it that way because they’re Canadian and they use the British spelling) for more than a decade, and they’re very strict about how they run it.

Basically, if a retailer fails the age compliance checks on three occasions (not in a row; if they fail them ever), their National Lottery ticket selling terminal will be suspended and could be removed entirely. And since retailers get a lot of money from lottery ticket sales, they can’t afford to lose that terminal.

According to a 2015 article on GamingPost.ca:

Retailers earn a 5% commission on every online sale and a 8% commission for every off-line ticket sale. Retailers are also entitled to receive a 2% bonus for any online prize redemption of under $300 and 3% for any offline prize redemption of under $200.

In 2017, Camelot conducted 11,600 visits for age compliance checks as a way to prevent underage and excessive playing of the lottery. Not that underage play is much of a problem, since Canada is also working on a way to increase the number of Millennials — people between the ages of 21 –37, as of 2018 — playing, because fewer of them are playing games of chance.

The U.S. lottery should run age compliance checks to prevent compulsive gambling and underage gambling.Still, addiction to gambling is a serious problem, so Camelot’s concerns are well-founded and respectable.

A basic check shows that we don’t seem to have basic age compliance checks in the United States when it comes to the lottery. A May 2016 story showed Orlando gas stations were selling lottery tickets to underage buyers, as the News 6 WKMG TV station worked with 13- and 14-year-old kids to buy lottery tickets. (Wawa moved their lottery ticket machines so they were more visible to the store employees, in response to the story.)

Lottery retailers — gas station, liquor stores, and even grocery stores — should take a cue from our neighbors to the North and start running age compliance checks on customers to prevent underage buyers and gambling addicts from buying tickets illegally or recklessly.

For more information on running your own age compliance checks, visit the Measure CP website and ask to speak to one of our compliance experts about how to run compliance checks in your own stores.

Photo credit: Daniel Oines (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

Mystery Shopping Programs

Hire Mystery Shoppers for your Bookstore

CMOs, if you’re trying to decide between mystery shopping and customer satisfaction surveys, there are a few key differences to be aware of. While the two different programs can give you an idea of how your brand and your staff are performing, they each fulfill different functions and show you two different sides of the same coin.

With mystery shopping, you have professional shoppers who are there to assess your strengths and requirements, such as whether your staff is performing a certain function or a particular franchise is displaying your latest promotional items, such as this month’s sandwich special or buy-one-get-one offer.

The shopper is tasked with entering a business, placing an order, having a meeting, getting a service, etc. They’re also often asked about things like store and bathroom cleanliness, employee friendliness, and so on. They tell you whether your store is meeting your brand standards. You can’t expect your regular customers to know whether that’s happening, mystery shoppers are trained on that.

With customer satisfaction surveys, you don’t always get an accurate assessment of the data you actually need. Are the bathrooms clean? Did the cashier smile? This may be something you need to know, but you’re asking customers to recall something they may or may not have seen a couple days ago. At least with a mystery shopper, they know whether that’s part of their assessment and will take note of those details.

Also, the response rates from a customer satisfaction survey can sometimes be random and unreliable. Very often, the response rate on surveys is random and unpredictable, based on the business and even the mood of the customer.

And that’s another important issue: very often people are more likely to respond to a customer satisfaction survey when they’re unhappy with their experience. That means you could only get a 5% response rate from all of your customers, but what if most of them had something they weren’t happy about? Those responses outweigh the one or two responses from the other 95% who had a wonderful experience, and it looks like you have a staff of incompetents running a store bathed in chaos.

With mystery shopping, the response rate is going to be as close to 100% as they can get, because that’s what they’ve been hired for. If you want five shoppers to visit a particular store, you’ll get five shoppers to visit that store.

We don’t want to downplay customer satisfaction surveys though, because they’re equally important.

For one thing, customer satisfaction surveys give you a lot more data to work with. If you get 500 people through your store per day, and you get just a 1% return rate, that’s still 5 people per day responding, or 1500 responses in 30 days. You can build up quite a picture with 1500 data points.

For another, it gives you better insights into complaints and deficiencies. While you can’t completely rely on the accuracy of the customer satisfaction survey — remember, it’s probably more skewed toward the negative — you are seeing legitimate complaints. And if they’re happening at a particular time of day, such as the morning shift, you know there’s a problem with the morning shift that needs to be addressed.

On the third hand, mystery shoppers can only assess so much, and may not be able to spot a problem. One mystery shopper finding one problem may only be an aberration, and not indicative of an actual problem. It’s harder to find patterns with a few mystery shoppers.

Ultimately, if you want a complete picture of your brand performance, you need both mystery shopping and customer satisfaction surveys. Mystery shoppers can tell you whether your standards are being met, and your customers will tell you whether they’re happy about it.

Customer satisfaction surveys can alert you to a problem, but the mystery shopper can investigate and help you figure out why it’s happening.

Mystery shopping can tell you how your different locations are performing and whether they’re meeting your company’s expectations, but customer satisfaction surveys will tell you about their satisfaction and dissatisfaction with their experiences.

Measure CP can help you combine the insights and results from both programs to get a a holistic picture of how your business is reaching and assisting customers and satisfying their needs. If you would like to learn more, please visit the Measure CP website. You can read more about our services, or you can speak with one of our mystery shopping and customer satisfaction survey experts.

Mystery Shopping Programs

Hire Mystery Shoppers for your Bookstore

Working as a mystery shopper isn’t as complicated as it sounds. In fact, our goal is to make things as easy and uncomplicated as we can.

The goal of a mystery shopping agency like ours is to provide our clients with a customer’s-eye-view of how their business operates. Working on the premise that “when the cat is away, the mice will play,” everyone knows that the way a business operates while the manager is around than when he or she is out. And smart business executives want to know that their carefully-honed image, service, and business plan is being run the way they expect it to.

They want smiling faces, friendly greetings, full service, clean facilities, and any other expectations and goals they have set for their entire operation. But they can’t be there to monitor it all the time.

Enter the mystery shopper.

This is the person who visits a particular business, branch, or individual location, looks for a few select items on a checklist, and reports back to the mystery shopping agency. The agency collects all the reports from all the shoppers working on this particular “case,” and presents it to the client.

The client can see what’s working and what’s not in each location. Maybe they expect all their staff to greet customers with a smile, and to say “thank you” at the end of a transaction. At Chick-fil-A, employees are expected to say “My pleasure” whenever a customer says thank you. The mystery shopper will keep track of that and note whether the company associate did what they were supposed to.

OYou never know where your role as a mystery shopper could take you. This is a young woman standing at a coffee shop counter.r maybe the bathrooms have to be cleaned every hour, and need to look presentable anytime a member of the public walks in. The mystery shopper will visit the bathroom during the visit and report on its condition.

The mystery shopper is usually expected to buy a particular service — buy a chicken sandwich; get their oil changed; test drive a car; visit a senior living facility; take a phone in for repairs — and they’ll be reimbursed, plus they’ll be paid.

After they buy the service, the mystery shopper will then fill out a report, answer all questions, and write up a brief statement about their visit, and sent it all back. The information may be uploaded on a website, it could be filled out on a mobile app, or it could even be that the shopper had to shoot a video on their mobile phone and then upload it to the mystery shopping agency.

(This means you have to be somewhat tech savvy. If you’re not, be sure to practice, PRACTICE, PRACTICE with your technology before you go on your first shop. You don’t get paid if you can’t deliver the information the client needs.)

A mystery shopper is basically the eyes and the ears of company management, looking for all the problems, challenges, and even the successes of the company associates. They help the company find opportunities for improvement and training, so they can better serve their customers, keep more of them happy, and keep them returning.

If you would like to be a mystery shopper, you can sign up to join the Measure CP team by visiting our special application page. We hope to work with you soon!

Photo credit: PXhere.com (Creative Commons 0, Public Domain)

Mystery Shopping Programs

Hire Mystery Shoppers for your Bookstore

My friend, Erik, recently met a woman who worked as an auditor for a water park/community pool safety certification company. He asked her a few questions about it, and turned it into an article for us.

I met Michelle (not her real name) at a coffee shop while she was studying to be a physician’s assistant, and she mentioned a job she used to have that saw her traveling all over the country.

“What was that?” I asked, envisioning a salesperson or some kind of consultant.

“I was a safety auditor,” Michelle said. “Sort of like a secret shopper for a company that certifies water parks and community pools for safety purposes.”

Ellis & Associates is an international aquatic safety and risk management consultant agency. According to their website, the company is. . .

dedicated to the prevention and elimination of drowning.  E&A provides Lifeguard Instructor training, Aquatic Risk Management services, Accident Investigation, Litigation Support, Emergency Care training, Learn to Swim and Continuing Education programs for all types of aquatic facilities around the world.

Michelle had been a lifeguard in high school and college, which made her a natural fit for the position. And in her role, which saw her driving all around the country, from city to city, pool to pool, she would not only train the lifeguards, but then she would secretly videotape them at work. This would help them measure the accountability for their actions and help them understand what they were doing right or wrong.

Village of Niles, Illinois Park District Oasis Water Park - Water park safety auditors are a different kind of secret shopper

“Parents often treat the lifeguards as babysitters,” said Michelle. “They just drop them off at the pool and expect the lifeguards to watch over them. The goal is to have zero drownings and near drownings.”

“A near drowning is when you have to resuscitate a victim,” she added.

Michelle’s employer has about 20 auditors on the road each summer. They spend 90 days during the summer driving all around the country, visiting a different state and water park every day.

“It’s kind of funny to see a bunch of 20 year olds terrorize the US with their Avis cars,” said Michelle.

But this is not a typical secret shopper role, she said. They look for someone who’s had supervisory and teaching experience. Michelle had originally been a camper at a summer camp, then a volunteer, and finally a camp counselor. Then she started teaching lifeguard classes and became an on deck supervisor.

Michelle originally applied when she was 19, but didn’t get the role. She applied again the following year, and they said the only reason she didn’t get it the year before was because she was too young. They told her she had the best communication interview the previous year, out of all 500 applicants.

Yes, that’s right: five hundred applicants. A lot of people want to be water park safety auditors, but they only need 20 for the 90 day summer. So let that be a lesson to anyone who wants to be a secret shopper: you need strong communication skills in order to impress your potential employer. You need to be able to write clear, concise reports, so communication skills are a must.

Michelle said the main operating season for water parks and pools are the unofficial days of summer — Memorial Day to Labor Day. That’s where most of the auditors spend their time. Then there are the year-round clients, like we have here in Florida. They get quarterly audits from the off-season auditors who live in the state. Or maybe they’ll send someone from their home office, if necessary.

Michelle is fortunate in that she’s neither regular season or off-season. She’s more or less a free agent, and will get an occasional call to see if she’s available to do a training and assessment.

This was an interesting look to see another place where a secret shopper type of function can be performed, but outside the traditional mystery shopping arena. This one requires special skills that you would have started acquiring while you were still in high school. While it may not be a lucrative career move, it’s a good way for a college student to spend their summers.

And if you’re a looking for a lifeguard or even a water safety supervisor at a YMCA/YWCA or even major theme park, check out Ellis & Associates’ job listing’s page. That’s where you’ll find the safety auditor positions — and they’re already recruiting.

Photo credit: VNiles (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons 4.0)

Mystery Shopping Programs

Hire Mystery Shoppers for your Bookstore

Evaluating service is not always done in person. In some cases, such as contact centers, it can be done over the phone, without ever having to leave the house or office.

A few years ago, the CEO of an Australian telecom company made news because he had been calling his own company’s contact centers to find out whether they were providing the kind of customer service he expected — and had established policies to ensure.

As anyone might guess in a situation like this, what he found was not always positive. The results of his “research” were probably hard to hear at times, but the CEO’s experiences showed him the issues he needed to confront in order to make changes and ultimately help turn his business’ customer service around.

His evaluation efforts of the contact centers brought to light some crucial questions. For instance: Why do customer service problems crop up in the first place? Is it apathy on the part of contact center employees, or are they not being equipped with the tools they need to do their jobs properly? Is there an incentive structure set up to reward employees for doing well?

All business owners have a responsibility to ensure that their contact centers’ customer service policies are being implemented as effectively as possible, whether they are running a major corporation or a small business — or anywhere in between. There is a place for mystery shopping within every contact center’s customer service strategy.

When a business hires a market research and brand auditing company, the two organizations will work together to create a customized program that investigates all the elements important to the customer service success of the business’ contact center. The company should be able to tailor the plan to target specific problem areas or specific training issues a business client might need to focus on. Once the two organizations have agreed upon the list of criteria shoppers will look for, the mystery shopping company will select shoppers with appropriate expertise. Research staff will phone the contact centers, posing as actual customers, and track every detail of their experience.

Here are some things mystery shopping professionals might look for when they shop a contact center:

  • Friendliness and helpfulness of staff.
  • Amount of time spent on hold.
  • Quality of hold music.
  • Number of transfers.
  • Whether they have to explain their problem over and over when they are transferred.

Customers’ chief complaints with calling contact centers are fairly universal. Issues like long hold times, endless transfers, lines gone dead, overly scripted and unempowered employees, and more run rampant throughout contact center culture. Any business that thinks it is exempt should probably reconsider. One simple way to find out for sure whether these things are happening: hiring mystery shopping company to act as the company’s ears on the front lines.

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Mystery Shopping Programs

Hire Mystery Shoppers for your Bookstore

Evaluating an assisted living center can be a long, drawn-out experience, and can be fairly involved.

Still, it’s vitally important, since it’s already a legal requirement that all assisted living centers measure the satisfaction of their residents. A mystery campaign can help administrators identify problem areas before they ever become so big, they affect the residents’ satisfaction, resulting in lower performance on the state’s satisfaction surveys.

But not all shopping campaigns have to involve site visits. In fact, we don’t even recommend that that’s the first step you take. If anything, a mystery shopping campaign should include, or at least start with, a phone call. That’s because many assisted living center visits already start with a phone call, so why not make sure you’re presenting your best possible image at the earliest possible moment.

When you begin working with a company like MeasureCP, we put together a program just for you that examines the factors that are most important to your assisted living facility. We will work with you to create a mystery shopping program that looks for specific pain points within your organization.

Once you’ve agreed upon the list of criteria, we choose our roster of shoppers and start making phone calls to your assisted living centers, acting as potential customers. We’ll run through the series of questions that we have both agreed upon, and find out how your staff does during this initial contact. When we’re done, we’ll create a full report for you on our findings.

Here are some typical factors we look for during a call:

  • Staff members’ personalities and helpfulness.
  • Hold time.
  • Number of transfers.
  • Comprehensive nature of information given.

Be sure that you’re providing the best possible experience to your current and potential residents and their families by bringing mystery shoppers into the mix. Good customer service never gets old!

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Mystery Shopping Programs

Hire Mystery Shoppers for your Bookstore

 

Respondents often ask how they can better maximize their earnings. While it can take a variety of shops to reach your financial targets, it is important to know that Mystery Shopping Provider’s (MSP) entrust higher-value projects to those with a history of making accurate and high-quality submissions. Brands rely on very precise data to make business decisions, sometimes affecting multi-million dollar budgets, thus making it critical for assignments to be done correctly the first time.

Because many programs require you to follow certain criteria as directed by each client, here’s how you can understand all the steps necessary to achieve success.

How can improving quality lead to financial reward? MSPs typically make assignments available to those individuals with a strong record, based on their ability to accurately follow directions. Not only are quality and accuracy critical – timeliness is, too.

To help, we have collected four best practices designed to improve your skills!

 

1. Tools to Stay Organized

When accepting an assignment, check your calendar and be sure you are available to complete the assignment before or by the due date. Because assignments have deadlines, it is critical for you to finish on time; otherwise, clients lose valuable resources, leading to incomplete and unusable submissions.

Most smartphones today have a calendar feature with reminders and alarms. As soon as you accept the shop, add a reminder so you do not forget to complete it, especially when accepting an assignment in advance. Google offers a free calendar tool, making it easy to manage your tasks, especially if you are scheduling tasks for multiple MSPs.

 

2. Stay Objective, Don’t Let Things Become Personal

Shoppers are so passionate about their jobs that things can often become personal instead of objective. Scenarios and guidelines provide a framework to your interaction so that the client can focus on the data they are trying to measure. Objectivity and knowledge of the framework will keep your feedback accurate and be of more use to the client. This will help to capture the true essence of an interaction and make your feedback valuable.

 

3. Document All Steps Required

Most assignments have strict requirements such as keeping a receipt, recording any phone conversations, or visiting during a specified time. Be sure to keep all documentation required to prevent delays or incomplete submissions. Oftentimes, your payment is contingent upon submitting your records; delays can result when not submitting proper documentation.

In addition, be sure to keep backup copies and do not delete any files until you have been paid. This makes it easy to verify and reimburse you for any expenses correctly the first time! Cameras and cellphones make a great way to snap a record of the receipt and keep a digital copy.

 

4. Communication is Key, Especially When Issues Arise

Things do not always go as planned and sometimes issues come up. Whenever a problem arises, it is important to contact your scheduler as soon as possible. If a short timeframe is available to complete the shop and you are unable to complete the shop for any reason or need clarification, keep the communication lines open and call or email your contact to seek help.

Do not be afraid to raise your hand if you do not understand something or to let your MSP know you cannot complete things on time.

 

www.measurecp.com

Mystery Shopping Programs

Hire Mystery Shoppers for your Bookstore

Video mystery shopping is an invaluable training tool for your business. Are your employees acting as ambassadors of your brand? It’s one thing for an employee to give great service when they know management is watching, but what about when management isn’t there? Whether or not it’s a conscious decision, many employees simply act differently when they know they’re being critiqued. Video mystery shopping takes the concept of mystery shopping to the next level, and the findings from a video mystery shopping experience may just be valuable beyond measure for your business.Measure CP Logo Icon

Measure CP partners with you to find ways to increase your success. Here’s how we do it. First, Measure CP gains an understanding of the intricacies of your business by performing a thorough analysis of what you believe are your company’s main problems and opportunities. Next, we collaborate with you to find a customer experience management solution – such as video mystery shopping, brand audits, mobile feedback, or a combination – which measures and reports on how your processes and protocols are being followed, and where your areas for improvement are.

Our customer experience management solutions are effective because they mirror the actual shopping experience that a customer undergoes, so you can see exactly how your associates represent your brand. With video mystery shopping, Measure CP works with you to place high-quality hidden audio video equipment throughout your business location. We’ll record the visits of several mystery shoppers in diverse situations, then we’ll hand the footage over to you along with a thorough analysis of your company’s opportunities for improvement and areas of strength and weakness. We’ll help you interpret the findings of our video mystery shopping research, looking for patterns and opportunities for growth.

You’ll get a truly clear picture of how your company operates and presents itself to potential customers through our video mystery shopping program. You’ll see if your employees are representing your brand accurately, and we’ll help you find clear opportunities for improvement through close analysis of the video mystery shopping content. What can Measure CP’s video mystery shopping program do for your business? The possibilities are endless, so call us today and let’s start exploring the potential.

Mystery Shopping Programs

Hire Mystery Shoppers for your Bookstore

In today’s business climate, mystery shopping firms protect a company’s most important asset – the customer experience.

For B2C companies, there is nothing more critical to success than fulfilling the brand promise. Sadly, most companies invest more money and effort in their marketing plans and store fixtures than they do in the front-line staff who do more to fulfill that brand promise than anyone else in the organization.

Real-Life Training

Whether it is the food service industry or retail, most front-line employee training looks something like the following:

• Day 1: Employee fills out paperwork and meets the team. At larger companies, the employee may watch some training videos.

• Afterwards, the employee shadows co-workers (who have received the same caliber of training) and spends some time with shift supervisors and managers, learning the ins-and-outs of the tasks associated with the job, like working the cash register, how to serve customers, and so-on.

• As soon as possible, the new employee is pushed out on the selling floor, forced to sink or swim and develop habits that will get him or her through the day. If there are no disasters and the employee shows up for work on-time, the training is deemed a success.

• From this point on, the employee will train subsequent new employees and be evaluated on whether or not key metrics, like new credit accounts or menu up-sells, are being met.

Some companies do a better job at preparing employees for the sales floor, but not many. Companies like Wal-Mart, whose success is based on being the low-price leader, can get away with a “good enough” attitude towards customer experience – customers will excuse the experience if the price is low enough.

But companies like Apple depend on the quality of the customer experience, and would soon lose customers in droves if they stopped investing in it. Apple’s ability to create a nearly unbreakable relationship with the customer is the key to success.

There are very few Wal-Marts and Apples out there, which means most B2C companies fall somewhere in-between. The trouble starts when the in-between companies behave like Wal-Mart and ignore customer experience in favor of slick marketing or some other strength. Employees are “trained” as in the model described above.

Other companies talk like Apple, but lack the commitment to truly execute Apple’s cult-like business model.

Once the marketing budget is cut or the strength is neutralized, what happens? That is when the in-betweeners get customer experience management religion. They put together committees who quickly discover that they have a host of dissatisfied customers who have abandoned their brand due to neglect.

Effective Customer Experience Management

Mystery shopping firms are the best defense against corporate complacency when it comes to customer experience management. Rather than paying lip service to the customer only to focus on more credit account conversions, committing to a third party audit of the customer experience puts a company’s money where its mouth is.

Here are a few examples of why a mystery shopping provider is a better conduit for understanding and improving the customer experience:

• Mystery shopping evaluates the customer experience in a real-life setting: When a front-line employee is with a trainer, she is on her best behavior, doing her best to remember all the things that go into properly executing the tasks being evaluated.

Mystery shopping firms send shoppers into real-life situations, where products are bought and sold in real-time. It is only by doing this that a company can get a true gauge of what their customers go through.

The front-line employee, having no idea he is being evaluated, will do the things he or she does when no one is watching – whether good or bad.

• Mystery shopping provides a standardized measurement across a network of locations: Let’s face it, a store manager or district manager doesn’t want to be the bottom feeder in a chain store environment, and that desire to succeed can lead to loose standards when it comes to scoring locations on evaluations.

Mystery shopping firms eliminate any kind of bias in evaluating by a) not having an emotional stake in the scoring of locations; and b) by having a standardized instrument that is used across the entire network of locations. When these two factors are coupled, B2C companies are equipped with a powerful tool for taking a crystal clear snapshot of the customer experience. Thus equipped with a new vantage point from which to see their operation, companies can make critical adjustments in how their stores and people interact with the customer.

• Mystery shopping firms provide powerful reporting tools: When evaluations are completed in a willy-nilly fashion across a network of locations, the results cannot be compared side by side. There is no integrity in the data.

Mystery shopping firms are uniquely suited for providing a suite of reporting tools that give B2C companies a 3-Dimensional view of their operation. Because the mystery shopping provider is using a standardized instrument with no emotional stake in outcomes, the data can be trusted and analyzed in the following types of reports:

o Rank by location by overall score

o Rank by location on a question-by-question basis

o Rank by employee

o Trending over time

o Recommended follow-up training

o Hierarchichal reporting that is designed for the C-Suite down to the store level

Mystery shopping firms work with clients to design reports that are the best fit for the B2C company’s goals.

In addition to traditional mystery shopping methods, where mystery shoppers visit the location, observe, then complete the survey offsite, a growing number of mystery shopping firms use hidden video technology to capture the most objective view possible of the customer experience, with high quality sound and imagery.

In a highly competitive world where almost all B2C companies sit somewhere between Wal-Mart and Apple, keeping a vigilant watch over the customer experience is the best way to grow and protect market share.

Mystery Shopping Programs

Hire Mystery Shoppers for your Bookstore

Market research comes in many shapes and sizes. For example, imagine a scenario where you are the number nine player in your vertical, and you have just been charged with getting your B2C company into the top three. Where would you begin?

For many, this process would begin with a call to Measure CP, where the top eight companies would be identified, a shopping program would be implemented, and data would be collected that would help identify opportunities to exploit.

Here are three ways Measure CP helps B2C companies with market research:

1. Benchmarking

Black frame Wayfarer sunglasses on a white notebook and clipboard. We often associates clipboards with market research.In the scenario outlined above, you could have the eight companies ahead of you, as well as your own company, shopped. The survey would cover the critical success factors for a positive customer experience in your vertical. Reporting will give you the opportunity to examine each shop and stack rank them by question and by total score.

Once the data is collected, you can slice it and dice it, looking for patterns that tell a compelling opportunity story for your organization.

Look at the companies in the top three positions in your vertical. Where do they score high? Are there weaknesses that can be exploited? If the numbers don’t give a clear-cut indication, perhaps a video shop will paint that picture. If the number one player in your vertical has a reputation for excellent customer service, a video shop will capture that experience so you can deconstruct it, looking for opportunities to compete.

2. Process Mapping

If your vertical has a complex selling structure, knowing how the competition sells essentially the same product can tell you much about your opportunities for gaining market share.

As with the benchmarking example, video shops are a great way to discover the “secret sauce” of your competition’s success, so consider using video for those top three positions while conducting market research. This will allow you to see what they are doing better than the rest.

By having mystery shoppers report back on the process used to sell them on a product, you can chart each process and find the patterns that are the key performance indicators for success in your vertical.

3. Pricing

In a commoditized selling environment, it is not enough to know what the competition is charging. Good market research lets you know what is included in the price, as well as how that pricing model is communicated.

Is the competition winning extra revenue through clever upsell strategies? Are there warranties or other value-adds that separate the competition from the rest of the field? By sending mystery shoppers into your competitors’ locations, you can see for yourself how they are structuring their deals – especially on a market-by-market basis.

Advantages of Mystery Shopping for Market Research

Using a mystery shopping provider like Measure CP to perform market research offers the following advantages:

  • Speedy: Measure CP has hundreds of thousands of mystery shoppers located throughout North America and all over the world, which means we can deploy a campaign quickly and give you more time to crunch numbers and develop a killer strategy.
  • Cost-effective: Because Measure CP has an extensive network of shoppers local to just about any market, we can provide services at a better cost than if you tried to create a campaign from scratch on your own.
  • Standardized: First, Measure CP’s team of experts will help you develop a standardized survey instrument that captures all of the data you will need to collect. From there, our expert shoppers will perform the shops in such a way that they will not be distinguishable from actual shoppers. This will give you purity in the data that is collected, as the associates audited will have no idea they are being evaluated.
  • State-of-the-art: If your data collection involves using audio or video, you can rest assured knowing the quality will be crystal clear. Measure CP’s equipment is defense-grade, meaning it’s the best on the market. You will have an objective sample of the customer experience that will give you the best possible picture of how you or the competition treat customers.

If you are looking to improve your market share and aren’t exactly sure where the opportunities are, why not contact Measure CP for a consultation? Moving up even one position in your vertical would likely cover the investment of the initial market research in terms of increased sales and market share.

Photo credit: Caio (Pexels, Creative Commons 0)

Mystery Shopping Programs

Hire Mystery Shoppers for your Bookstore

Mystery shopping has a variety of purposes outside of traditional retail shops.  Automotive after sales mystery shops offer a valuable look “under the hood” of a company’s service operation…but only if the right partner is providing the mystery shopping service.  Just as there are all kinds of car salesmen, there are many kinds of mystery shopping providers out there, making a variety of claims about how they can help you improve the customer experience.

mystery shopping

At Measure CP, we’ve done enough automotive after sales mystery shops to know what to look for in a prospective vendor.  Here are five questions to ask before you let any mystery shopping company on your lot:

#1: Can you match my demographics? Shopper pools for nearly every mystery shopping provider skew heavily towards females.  If you are looking for a predominantly male shopper pool for your after sales mystery shopping program, dig in on this question. If a mystery shopping provider is unable deliver on your demographic, then move on to the next candidate.

Also, when exploring the question of demographics, find out how the prospective mystery shopping provider handles alternates.  Do they have a deep bench of qualified shoppers to take the place of anyone who may quit (quitters are called flakes in the business) in the middle of the program?  Because we are dealing with people, flakes happen, and the best mystery shopping providers plan for them.

#2: Do you handle everything in-house?  Does the prospective mystery shopping provider handle scheduling, editing, and video in-house, or are they at the mercy of a third-party vendor?  This question is vital because with every step that is covered by a vendor, your prospective partner has that much less control over the operation, which can cause crippling delays when the inevitable glitch occurs.

Have the prospect walk you through each step of the operation.  How does project management work?  How does scheduling work?  How do shoppers report their results?  How does editing/QC work?  What is at stake here is the overall quality of the solution.  Each vendor means another communication handoff, which jeopardizes the ability of a mystery shopping provider to respond quickly to problems.  At Measure CP, we do everything in-house, maintaining control over every facet of the program.

#3: Do you have automotive experience?  Automotive after sales mystery shopping programs are very complex operations that can literally span the continent.  Having an untested partner at the controls is a risky proposition.

Have a prospective mystery shopping provider walk you through their automotive experience, and look specifically at how they certify shoppers and onboard vehicles.  If they have never performed automotive after sales shops, see if they have done ANY after sales shopping programs.  Measure CP has developed a detailed checklist for clients that helps anticipate bureaucratic red tape that can bring a program to a stand still.

#4: Are you a national or regional operation?  If your program will include an audit of dealerships spanning the entire country (not to mention international locations), you want to make sure your prospective partner is skilled at dealing with a program of this scale.

A regional mystery shopping provider may be just fine for handling a particular portion of the country, but if they are not well versed in something as basic as video recoding laws, for example, it could end up costing you a lot of money in fines and lawsuits.  Smaller mystery shopping providers tend to rely on third party vendors for overflow work, which could also affect the quality of their solution for you.  Measure CP’s experts know the automotive industry, and will help you avoid costly pitfalls.

#5: How do you communicate?  Communication is perhaps the most vital critical success factor in an automotive after sales mystery shopping program.

Because these programs are so complex, things never go exactly as planned.  This is where effective communication is key.  Is the prospective mystery shopping provider pro-active?  Do they hold onto information too long?  Do they shoot from the hip and do things on their own without consulting you?  These are only a few questions to ask, and they provide a perfect platform to setting expectations at the outset of the program, rather than having to learn the hard way.

For the utmost confidence, choose a mystery shopping provider that can confidently answer all of the questions outlined above.  It is imperative that you have experience on your side and get the detailed checklist of critical success factors needed to allow you to provide your customers with the best service.  Contact Measure CP today and speak to one of our automotive specialists about your next after sales mystery shopping program.

Mystery Shopping Programs

Hire Mystery Shoppers for your Bookstore

Mystery shopping is essentially a mirror which reflects the reality of front-line customer interaction and how the company brand is interpreted by the customer. For small to medium-sized businesses especially, building a brand can be difficult and takes a lot of time. There are many things that play into building a brand – everything from your logo to your signage to your employees’ uniforms. There’s even more to consider when you think about how your brand image is created and interpreted in the minds of your customers. A mystery shopping program can help you determine if your brand is being projected correctly.

Mystery shopping programs can help you discover a variety of things that would be incredibly difficult to find out on your own. For example, let’s say that your business has multiple. Building a strong brand image requires there to be consistency between all your locations in the appearance of your stores and in the attitudes of your staff. It may be difficult for you to determine if this is the case if you are working on your own. Deploying a mystery shopping program can provide the unbiased experts you need to ensure your high standards are being met company-wide.

For example, a mystery shopping program can examine questions such as: Do the locations of your business look consistent from store to store? When a customer walks into one location then visits another at a later date, are they greeted with a welcoming, professional attitude each time? Do your employees across all locations dress in the appropriate uniforms and attire, and do they follow the same rules of decorum expected of all staff? A mystery shopping program can identify the answers to all of these questions, and more. And perhaps more importantly, a mystery shopping program will use questions like these, and a plethora of other questions, to determine if your brand standards are being met aesthetically in your stores as well as in the attitude of your staff.

Mystery shopping can help reinforce a company's brand image.If you are interested in measuring your brand image over time, consider employing a mystery shopping program on a yearly basis. The first step in this process would be to work with your mystery shopping program to identify what is successful about your business and what areas need work in order to increase sales. Then, on a yearly basis moving forward, the same things would be analyzed in order to measure improvement. As your mystery shopping program helps you build your brand, your sales will build as well.

A primary benefit of working with a mystery shopping program is that mystery shoppers see what you are not able to, and experience your company from the customer perspective. In order to build and protect your brand image, it is important to communicate with customers in the ways that work best for them. Mystery shopping can help you find ways to engage your target audience so that you can keep existing customers and find new audiences too.

Mystery Shopping Programs

Hire Mystery Shoppers for your Bookstore

A brand audit can help companies of all types and sizes better communicate with their customers. Especially when a company experiences rapid growth, “good enough” takes the place of “perfect” in terms of getting something out the door. If this is the case for your company, perhaps it is time for a brand audit.

A brand audit looks at your company’s outgoing communications, with a critical eye to detail. Whether you realize it or not, the communication going out to the public or to vendors cover a huge range, and absolutely every piece plays a role in communicating your brand. A brand audit examines everything your company creates: proposals, press releases, the company website, sales flyers, and more. The brand audit then finds answers to questions such as: Are all outgoing communications effectively communicating the company’s brand image? Is the logo modern, and does your company tagline communicate the organization’s value proposition? A brand audit can help you answer all these questions.

The purpose of a brand audit is to determine if the message your company is sending to employees, vendors, and customers is the right message, and if it is being communicated effectively. Brand audits also take a look at compliance issues within your particular industry, ensuring that your company is meeting standard benchmarks and following industry guidelines where appropriate. The primary goal of a brand audit is to help your organization communicate with customers consistently and effectively – which in turn will help your company create scalable growth.

Brand AuditThat is why performing a brand audit is not just for big companies. Small to medium sized businesses have the most to gain from performing a brand audit. If your organization is experiencing rapid growth, and if you hope to keep growing at the same or even a faster rate, a brand audit may be a crucial aspect of your marketing plan. In order to ensure your organization is getting the best return on investment possible from your marketing and communications efforts, it is of utmost importance that all aspects of the brand are in alignment. If your brochures, advertisements, and website fail to give customers the same impression, this can truly impede opportunities for growth and brand recognition. Performing a brand audit ensures that your organization can move forward with a consistent, modern approach that increases customer loyalty and expands awareness of your brand.

Large companies may perform brand audits from time to time to ensure that globally, there is consistency in how the brand is communicated. Language translations, advertising standards worldwide, and trends that change from country to country can all impact a brand’s consistency and effectiveness. Brand audits ensure that large-scale marketing problems are kept under control. Small to medium sized companies face similar issues to a large organization, but on a different scale. Perhaps dealing with global trends in advertising isn’t an issue yet for your organization – but as your organization grows, issues like this may not be far off. Performing a brand audit in the early stages of your company’s growth ensures that your company reaches customers as effectively as possible as you expand your brand.