Mystery Shopping

Mystery shopping is an effective research tool precisely because of its element of mystery. The identity and role of the mystery shopper and date and time of their visit is not disclosed to the target employee/s, therefore it provides a realistic reflection of the service an actual customer would receive. Mystery shopping can be used by organizations or companies either internally, to assess their own company and employees or externally to assess their competitors’ standards and market position. Below are a number of aspects which can be included in the mystery shopping assessment:

  • The quality of service internally or externally (of competitors), for example assessing the approach and attitude of employees, the way they greet customers, their friendliness, courtesy and efficiency or the way they handle complaints
  • The turnaround time of service for example how long did the customer have to wait before someone answered their call? How long did the staff take to return to the customer with a quotation/proposal?
  • The sales techniques of employees for example whether they are trying to up-sell, cross-sell or link-sell and if they tried to close the sale
  • To gather specific information such as prices about products or services and gauge what type of products or services are being offered to the customer
  • The general compliance to company standards or instructions in relation to service, premises or branding and presentation

As any other marketing research the process of mystery shopping should start from the drawing board – identifying the objectives and aims of the exercise. It is important to have a clear action plan of what you want to find out and what you are going to do with the data gathered through the mystery shopping. For example, are you planning to offer a tailored employee training programme after the mystery shopping exercise? Are you planning on carrying out the exercise on a regular basis or randomly as a form of incentive to ensure that employees are providing constant high quality customer service? Are you thinking about using mystery shopping as the basis of an employee reward programme for good customer service? Or is your main objective to assess your competitor’s market position, their strengths and weaknesses from a customer view point?

These objectives and action plan are then used as the driving force behind any element of the mystery shopping. Accordingly, the mystery shopper is given a scenario which they have to act out, for example being an angry customer or a customer who asks a lot of question. They can also be asked to perform specific tasks, such as purchasing a product or asking specific questions. A detailed report based on the mystery shoppers feedback and experiences is then drafted. The report may include any quotations or proposals requested by the mystery shopper or a ranking system identifying those companies who did best during the exercise.

For more information on how your company or organisation can use mystery shopping to improve your market position or customer service, kindly contact MISCO International on +356 2122 0303 or 2205 4000.

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