Mystery Shopping 101 – The Secret Weapon In Your CX Assessment Arsenal


mystery shopping tips

You always attempt to deliver the best-in-class services to attain maximum customer satisfaction and loyalty towards your brand. But there are times when even after putting in your best efforts; you find it difficult to attain your goal. Do you know why? This is probably because you have spent most of your time on your products’ promotion rather than evaluating your customers’ satisfaction level with your services. Therefore, it is extremely important for brands like you to get a customer experience evaluation done using programs like mystery shopping and ascertain the right and wrong in their customer service strategy.

Mystery shopping is an advanced methodology or process that helps evaluate the performance of the employees at a retail store. This process is carried out by different individuals who are hired to pretend as a customer at the store and evaluate their employees’ performance. The performance evaluation is done on the basis of how well the employees are able to build a rapport and convince the shopper to make the purchase. This evaluation is a great tactic to identify the customer’s perception of a store when he/she enters it and the experience he had when leaving it. The evaluation report can then be used to create an improvement plan that may help strengthen the overall customer experience.

Implementing A Mystery Shopping Program

A mystery shopping program is implemented to develop an improved understanding of the ways in which a better customer experience can be delivered. But, what matters the most is finding the right way to get it done within your budget. While many might think that outsourcing it to an external team is the best deal, your in-house team can also execute the process if planning is done precisely.

Following are a few simple steps that can assist you to implement an effective mystery shopping program for your organization. These include:

1. Determine Your Goals

A mystery shopping program can serve multiple purposes like ascertaining common customer concerns, quality of service delivery, etc. But, knowing the exact goals and purpose of implementing this program can serve as a great help. Identify factors like your major goal for mystery shopping, your target audience, the information you wish to find and how to use it. Once done, make sure that these findings are tailored well with your program.

2. Know Your Budget

Before putting your plan into action, it is important to know the amount you can spend on this particular project. This is generally based on your goal behind implementing the program, the cost of its management platform, any purchase to be made and other miscellaneous costs. You can also do a market analysis to know the current market rates so that you may be in a better position to decide your budget.

3. Choose The Right Mystery Shopping Platform

With the advent of advanced technology, using the age-old technique of sharing a paper-based questionnaire can lead to a lot of wastage of resources. Therefore, it is always better to choose a suitable platform that may assist you to execute your program easily. Simplifying the process of keying their results for shoppers, it will also get easier for them to generate a report and analyze the same.

4. Draft Specific Questions

It is important for a mystery shopper to have a set of questions ready beforehand. Based on the program’s goals, these questions can be related to aspects like hygiene, visual appeal, employees’ conduct, and product availability. It is necessary to structure these questions in an appropriate format like multiple choice and open-ended so that the desired inputs can be collected.

5. Establish Shopper Guidelines

It is important to let your shoppers understand your level of expectations. Help them understand the right ways to attain the goals and the guidelines they need to adhere to. Make sure that you are not making the process too complicated for them or else you might end up having a very limited number of resources.

6. Consider Your Shoppers’ Advice

It is good to have your own set of rules and regulations to execute a mystery shopping program. But, there is no harm in collecting the feedback from the shoppers’ on the job. The suggestions shared by them can be, at times, effective enough to be implemented and improve the process. For you, it is about getting the best out of your program and attain the results that may help mend the overall process.

mystery shopping

Benefits of Mystery Shopping Program For A Brand

Every year, a lot of businesses deal with situations like diminished customer loyalty, dropped customer satisfaction (CSAT) score and decreased customer retention. Considering these ups and downs a part of their normal business routine, there are not many who take these into consideration or design an improvement plan. However, there are a few others who are ready to spend a part of their revenue on implementing a mystery shopping program and better plan their business strategy.

Implementing a mystery shopping program can benefit a brand in a number of ways such as:

1. Detailed Insight Into Customer Experience

A majority of companies are not aware of how their customers’ think and feel after visiting their stores. This information can be made easily available by mystery shoppers. Mystery shopping is a smart way to identify the level of customer service offered by the company and the extent to which the customers are satisfied by your company. The availability of such information, in turn, assists businesses to understand their scope of improvement and how they may attain their desired level of CSAT.

2. Conduct of Company’s Employees

While it might be difficult for a store to know the way their employees are interacting with their customers, mystery shoppers can make it easier for them. The mystery shoppers may visit the store and interact with some specific employees to report their conduct towards customers, especially when their manager is not around. This helps in verifying that all the employees are performing at the required level and are continuing to deliver an experience like never before.

To know about KPIs that may help improve customer experience, read our blog onTop 8 KPIs To Improve Customer Experience.”

3. Identifying Training Needs

Based on the performance of the existing employees, it would get easier for the company to determine the training needs of prospective employees. The data collected can also be used to identify the required training that should be imparted to the existing employees to improve their performance, especially those who are not performing as per the set industry standards.

4. Boost Customer Retention

Mystery shopping can help in improving the customer retention score by identifying the common loopholes in customer service delivery and ways to overcome these. Delivery a high-quality customer service will not only help in establishing s positive bottom line for the brand but will also make it easier to improve the overall customer retention score. Apart from this, you can also implement some of the best tips to retain repeating customers such as by maintaining regular customer communication, staying transparent, etc.

5. Monitoring Of Service Quality Delivery

Once your brand has established a reputation in the market for its service quality, it is important to maintain it. And this can be done easily by planning a mystery shopping program. The program maintains a close check on the service quality delivered to the clients and ensures the delivery of optimum service quality in times to come.

Things To Do & Not To Do In Mystery Shopping Program

A mystery shopping program is a standardized method to evaluate the employees’ performance, most commonly, at the retail stores. While preplanning the entire program can simplify its execution, there are certain tips that one must keep in mind when acting as a shopper.

Things To Do:

1. Maintain a good mix of subjective and objective questions.
2. Be clear and specific about your goals and objectives.
3. Customize your reports to meet your business needs.
4. Offer gifts and rewards to employees.
5. Put in your best efforts.
6. Maintain strong work ethics.
7. Maintain integrity at work.

Things Not To Do:

1. Never ask opinion-based questions as this might lead to a loss of the program’s credibility.
2. Avoid asking a lot of questions in one go.
3. Do not ask each employee’s name as this may sound weird.
4. Do not lose your calm and patience.
5. Lack of business/product knowledge.

Take Your Employees’ Performance To The Next Level

Letting your employees undergo a secret investigation via mystery shopping is an excellent way to identify their real performance level. What they say or how they behave is exactly the same to the way they act with real customers. Therefore, the data collected using mystery shopping is completely real and should be used to provide feedback to all your employees.

When sharing feedback, it is very important for the managers to stay cautious and avoid using any names. Doing so might dilute the entire purpose of the feedback campaign and would not allow the listeners to learn the necessary lesson. Focus on improving your employees’ performance and you would definitely be able to attain the anticipated results.

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