A mystery shopper is a person employed by the firm to provide feedback about their interaction with the firm. Firm employees are not told about the mystery shopper before or during the interaction. Sometimes they may know that a mystery shopper is due but not who it will be and when they will arrive. Other firms may decide not to mention the mystery shopper assessment at all. This is because when people know they are being observed, there is a risk they may alter their behaviour.
The mystery shopper diagram below provides examples of things assessed by mystery shoppers.
Mystery Shopper Face to Face (In Person) Interaction
A mystery shopper could be used by a variety of business types but they are most commonly used by retail shops. In retail shops the mystery shopper will visit a shop belonging to the firm and buy something. They may pretend that they need help and ask the staff questions to establish how well staff help customers and answer customer queries. They will rate their overall shopping experience from the window display through to after sales service.
Examples of things that may be assessed include:
Levels of customer service.
Whether staff followed company procedures.
Staff presentation i.e. name tags, uniform
Store layout and presentation
Staff communication skills
Whether staff members were polite, courteous.
Did staff sell the product or service well? i.e. sales manner and ability.
Mystery Shopper Remote Interaction (Telephone and Internet)
Some businesses engage with their clients (customers) remotely. This means that the business and clients are in a different place. For example they may deal with customers over the telephone or through the internet. This is challenging as the firm and the customer can not see each other.
Mystery Shopper Telephone Interaction
Many businesses deal with customers over the phone; for example to sell things or to provide advice. Effective telephone calls require articulate employees with good communication skills. The firm’s processes will also have to be efficient as customers do not like to be kept waiting on the phone. A mystery shopper survey is a good way to test staff communication skills and the processes used to deal with telephone calls from clients.
Mystery Shopper Online Business Interactions
Due to its popularity it makes sense to include online and digital interaction/communication in your mystery shopper assessment. Businesses rely heavily on social media and the internet to make sales.
For example Dell provides laptop purchase advice through a live web chat with dedicated advisors. The internet has created a lot of competition, the challenge is to keep the client interested as through one simple click the consumer can leave your website and visit competitors.
A digital mystery shopper assessment will help to reveal useful information about:
The visual appeal of the website and social media page
How easy the website is to use, navigate, search
Speed of the website, time taken to load up
How long did the mystery shopper spend on the website and why
The online purchase and customer advice process
Post sales service
Mystery Shopper Conclusion
The results from the mystery shopper assessment will be analysed and used to improve future performance. The mystery shopper survey may have highlighted things that need to be rectified immediately areas e.g. company procedure not followed, health and safety breach or legal rules and regulations broken. Conversely if the department surveyed did something very well e.g. customer service, sales process, their method may be promoted as a “best practice” for everybody in the company to implement.
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