When you start strategic planning for your business, large or small, you may consider secret shopping as a way to gauge customer experience. Even if your business is experiencing continued success, mystery shopping is a great investment and offers different benefits from traditional market research. Here are five reasons why hiring a mystery shopping company is not only worthwhile, but necessary:
1) Mystery Shopping Improves Loss Prevention
One measurement mystery shoppers can record is the amount of time it took for them to be served by an employee, which can help loss prevention on two levels. Many people associate loss prevention in the retail sense — deterring the theft of retail items. Immediate attention is the the last thing a thief wants, because the longer he goes unnoticed, the more opportunities he has to steal. However, there’s another type of loss — losing customers when they leave because they haven’t been served. In this case, your business is not only losing revenue, but a portion of the marketing expenses that drove the customer to even come to the store. The feedback you receive from a mystery shopping company about the attentiveness and promptness of your employees are two effective deterrents of both kinds of loss prevention.
2) Accurate Observation
You could easily try “role-playing” exercises in which your own employees act as a customer, but is that really the same experience a customer would get? The employee knows ahead of time that he or she is being shopped, and knows exactly what the right behaviors are. Only a mystery shopping company can provide you with secret shoppers who are unidentified and unannounced.
3) Neutral Point Of View
It’s inevitable that you have a certain bias toward the operation of your business. Any manager or owner develops blind spots to their employees’ behaviors. When you hire a mystery shopping company, you are provided data from individuals who don’t know you or your employees. They are able to give a truly professional, third party view from a customer’s perspective. In this case, the focus point is not on the product or service, but on the customer.
4) Comparison Shopping
If market share is what you’re after, you’re likely wondering what your competitors are doing. What if you could send “customers” to collect data about their service tactics? With secret shoppers, you can do just that. Mystery shoppers can provide feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors, so that you can find out what’s important to the customer and use that to your advantage.
5) Stress Tests
You never know how your employees will react in certain situations — say, an angry shopper, or a shoplifter — until they happen. With mystery shopping companies, you can actually create those situations and study the results. How does your staff respond to a rude customer or someone trying to steal your stock? By setting up these scenarios, you can adjust your training strategy to improve the way your employees respond to extreme situations.
- Global Retail Theft Barometer Study Finds Shrink Down 5.6%, to $107.3 Billion Worldwide; Theft’s Costs to U.S. Shopping Families Equal to an Average of $422.68 (eon.businesswire.com)
- Consumers Select Nordstrom as Favorite Business-Wear Retailer in 2010 and Kohl’s is Top Pick for Casual Wear (prweb.com)
- How to Provide Great Customer Service (customer-relations.suite101.com)