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Mystery Shopping Puts Feet on the Ground

Mystery shopping is one of the most valuable ways for CMOs and COOs to obtain feedback about their operations. While the anonymous customer surveys and focus groups of yore will provide a certain degree of insight into small portion of customer experience, mystery shopping allows organizations to gain insight into many facets of their business operations.

During a mystery shopping audit, a professional secret shopper will visit the appointed location and proceed to make a purchase or inquire about a product or service. In the process of the transaction, the mystery shopper will take note of environment, cleanliness, product offerings, and the employees’ product knowledge and level of customer service offered. Upon completion of the secret shop, the mystery shopper will complete a detailed survey regarding their entire experience with the organization.

One of the most valuable aspects of mystery shopping is the opportunity to garner unbiased, third party feedback. The data and feedback gained from a mystery shop are provided by unbiased, qualified individuals who approach each shop objectively and professionally. They are able to give expert, third party feedback from a customer’s perspective.

Surveys, on the other hand, tend to be poorly-written and skewed and have limited choices. Focus group participants often have a problem of putting too much thought into their ideas. Plus, focus groups are often too small to give an accurate depiction. They also tend to be made up of “professional” focus group participants — people who bounce from group to group — who are not necessarily regular users of the products.

Mystery shopping is also effective for loss prevention. Mystery shoppers typically record the amount of time it took for them to be served by an employee. As most organizations realize, attentive employees are a store’s strongest weapon against theft. The last thing shoplifters want is attention, because the longer they go unnoticed, the more opportunities they have to steal. So when they are given too much attention, a thief is more likely to move on to an easier target.

Mystery shopping audits can show where staff are not being quick enough to serve customers. This will also show where stores are losing customers who leave because they have not received the attention and service they needed.

Many organizations use mystery shopping as a means of checking out the competition. When it comes to competitive analysis and scoping out the market, mystery shopping is a valuable weapon.

In these kinds of shops, mystery shoppers are sent to collect information about the competition’s customer service tactics, product offerings and strengths and weaknesses. This not only allows organizations to compare and contrast their own offerings, it lets them to find out what is truly important to the customer and use it to their advantage.

Mystery shopping is a wise investment that offers benefits that traditional market research panels or customer surveys do not have.