Customers do not always tell us what they really think of a product or service because they don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. However, they will talk about it with their friends. Finding out a customer’s thoughts offers valuable insight into their shopping preferences and what they are likely to buy in the future, which can help your company immensely. How can you gain this information in a non-intrusive way?
Why Mystery Shopping?
Mystery shopping is all about obtaining valuable customer feedback. Store surveys and suggestion boxes may gain a few answers to the questions you have, mystery shopping provides information on customer satisfaction at a deeper level. It allows you to see things from your customer’s perspective, from how friendly and knowledgeable your salespeople are to the cleanliness of your restrooms.
The wildly popular US burger chain, Five Guys, puts their successes down to their team of mystery shoppers who visit their restaurants twice a week. Not only does this keep their employees on their toes, but the mystery shoppers also work through a checklist and grade the staff and store accordingly, giving a clear view of that all important customer experience. Their evaluations pinpoint weak points that can sway a customer’s decision to return to shop in your store again.
Using the services of mystery shoppers can be an invaluable tool for any business. It helps to detect any areas of weakness within your team and identify training needs, compare your services with the competition, monitor KPIs and measure the impact of any changes to your product lines or marketing campaigns. It can also help you to make sure that you are providing the sort of service that works for all your customers, including those with disabilities.
Using this system wisely can make all staff feel engaged, and chances are they will want to beat their scores month on month- good for you, and great for your customers.
Benefits of a mystery shopping program:
Improves Customer Retention
It stands to reason that if customers have a good experience, they’ll want to come back for more.
Keeps Customer Service at the Forefront
If staff are used to being checked out by mystery shoppers, customer service will be a top priority at all times.
Most front line staff receive training about customer service when they first start a new job, but that learning can get lost over time. Regular mystery shopping is a constant reminder of the things that make a great customer experience.
When customers feel like you see them as more than a number, they’ll come back- and when they come back, that can be the start of a long term and mutually beneficial relationship.
As part of the mystery shopping program, staff will be asked questions about products and services. If they’re committed to doing well as work and working as a team, keeping their knowledge up to date will become ingrained.
We all know that more customers mean bigger profits, so if you can provide an outstanding customer experience that builds loyalty and retention it stands to reason that this will have a knock-on effect on your income.
How Mystery Shopping Works
Now that you know mystery shopping services can help your business, you are probably wondering how it works and what type of data the shoppers collect about your store. Well, here is an overview of the mystery shopping assignment and what things are evaluated and scored.
Mystery shoppers (also called secret shoppers) are consumers hired by third party vendors to assess a business and its employees from the customer experience perspective. They visit many types of businesses including restaurants, department stores, apartment buildings, and more. The shoppers will often shop for products, return an item, or request a refund to see first-hand what your customers experience doing the same activities. They will complete their assignment, with no one knowing that they are anything but a regular customer. After they finish their purchase, they will complete a short questionnaire that asks for details of their shopping experience.
Some questions they may be asked include:
- Was the store adequately staffed?
- Were you greeted when you walked in the door?
- Was there enough product in stock?
- Were the restrooms clean and well-stocked with paper supplies?
- Were the employees knowledgeable and friendly?
- What did you like about this store?
- What did you dislike about this store?
- Would you shop at this store in the future?
The customer doing the shop is not paid for their opinion. They are sent there to evaluate the performance of your business and purchasing something is often required. They are reimbursed for purchases as part of their assignment payment. Their opinion and insights are natural and honest, which are exactly the same as most of your other customers.
An average assignment pays a minimal rate , so there is no big incentive to lie or falsify evaluations. Shoppers are compensated with a specified amount for the shop, plus reimbursed for any purchases required to complete the assignment.
No doubt, you can see how this kind of information could help improve your businesses customer satisfaction scores. When customers are happy, your sales revenues go up because they are buying your products and returning when they need more. This is something you can use to see where your business can improve to gain new customers or retain existing customers.
Mystery shopping provides you with a clear insight into the way customers think and feel, which can help you build an effective long term strategy and stay one step ahead of your competitors. Try recruiting shoppers from different social and demographic groups, people with disabilities and mental health problems for a well-rounded view of your customer base that will help your business grow.
If you would like to try this valuable tool for yourself, contact us at Ethos today. We have an awesome team of over 15,000 mystery shoppers who can show you how your business stacks up to the competition. You can view your company’s performance in real-time with online and mobile reporting 24/7.