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How Can My Bookstore Benefit from Mystery Shopping?

Considering the one-two punch of the recession and new advancements in technology, it’s no secret that traditional brick-and-mortar bookstores are suffering. You only have to hear the latest news from Borders to know what’s happening in this world. However, there is one thing that no Kindle or iPad can provide, and that’s customer service. No fancy device can give you the same face-to-face interaction that a real bookstore can provide.

Bookstore cat at Ophelias Books

Image by brewbooks via Flickr

Knowing they can get much of the same material in digital from, visitors to local bookstores are now expecting more. Atmosphere, cleanliness, organization, and good experiences with employees are all factors that will keep bookstores up and running as the industry takes this hit.

When you hire a mystery shopping company, secret shoppers objectively evaluate customer service from their point of view by reenacting a visit to your store. And it’s not just the big-box retailers who hire mystery shoppers. As long as you have employees who work the store when you don’t, you can consider mystery shopping a great investment. In essence, mystery shopping can provide a good “snapshot” of customer service in its current form.

Here are some typical things secret shoppers look out for on a  bookstore visit:

  • Look/Appearance of store (exterior and interior)
  • Cleanliness
  • Signage visibility
  • Time it took to be contacted
  • Personal appearance of employees
  • Helpfulness of employees
  • Organization of books
  • Handicap accessibility
  • Restroom facilities

The compilation of data you receive from the mystery shopping company can help you:

  • Determine areas of weakness and strength in your operations
  • Develop, refine, or evaluate a training program
  • Create an incentive program for your employees for perform well
  • Creating new criteria for managers’ bonuses

Mystery shopping companies provide data from individuals who don’t know you or your employees, so they are able to give a neutral, third party view from a customer’s perspective. The focus point is not on the product, but on the customer. Also, mystery shoppers can provide feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of your competitors.

You can find reputable mystery shopping companies by asking for referrals from others in your industry, or by checking with the Mystery Shopping Providers Association, or by calling (847) 375-4743.

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