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Mystery Shopping for Automotive After Sales: Choosing the Right Provider

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.