--By Shrishti Giri--
As the customers are experiencing the ease of shopping from their favourite brands without any hassle, the competition for the brick and mortar stores has increased by leaps and bounds. The online stores like that of Amazon have already started moving their presence in the offline world too, raising the standard of customer experience to the next level. It’s time that the offline brands and retail stores are expected to serve their customers and retain them. Mystery shopping if conducted well can change the entire status of the stores, turn customers into brand advocates, and transform simple stores into brands. It is like a valuable instrument that magnifies the customer experience and gives in-depth knowledge about what your customers feel while shopping from you.
Here are the 7 best practices that every retail store must follow to make mystery shopping a successful program:
1.Defining the Parameters
Mystery shopping is a broad topic and covers the entire customer journey starting right from the point when the customer enters the store. It can be conducted as per the selective parameters and objective set by your brand requirements or can be conducted to cover all the parameters. But it has to be made sure what the parameters are and which objective need to be focused upon. A random audit can land into confusions and lead to failures. A mystery auditor must be ready with a beat plan and set goals before entering the store to minimize the chances of failure.
2. Choosing the right mystery shopping service provider
Conducting the mystery audit on your own will not lead to the proper outcomes as there are chances of bias behavior, carelessness, and of course lack of knowledge of how the mystery shopping is conducted. Selecting a service provider/vendor/agency to do the same is far better as they have the proper know-how and experience to conduct mystery shopping. Most of the vendors today use automated platforms to capture the insights, raise red alerts and submit the reports regularly with all the artefacts. These tech-driven applications make the audits successful as there is minimum loss of data and faster representation of the dashboard with all the findings. It is necessary that you look, research and connect with a mystery shopping service provider for your store.
3. Defined but not transactional
After finalizing your vendor, it’s time to discuss your requirements with them in detail. While preparing the questionnaire make sure audit/mystery shopping should have both open-ended and closed-ended questions. The auditors should be well trained as they have to represent themselves as a customer. Being transactional and asking the scripted questions to the staff will not bring out the in-depth details, customer pain points and staff knowledge. For making the mystery shopping program a success for any brand or organization the auditors must be trained enough and interested in performing the audit.
4. Encourage not Discourage
Mystery shopping should never be conducted with the objective to find the mistakes of the staff members. It should be more focused towards enhancement of the present situations, improving customer experience and providing feedback to the staff. Dealing with the staff members during the mystery shopping will help to know what is making them lag behind or vice versa.
5. Creating a beat plan
Once the objectives and parameters are decided, the next thing to focus upon is creating the plan of how the audit will be conducted. The plan does not mean only the points or outline of the journey but it should be detailed to educate the auditors and let them be confident enough to know about the flow of the audit.
Points to be taken care of:
6. Keeping it regular
Mystery shopping is not a one time activity, to get the best results, measuring the entire activity at regular intervals is required. Changes and modifications applied after the first audit needs to be evaluated in the second and so on. It has to be made a long term practice until you receive ample footfalls, see returning customers and maximized satisfaction.
7. Reports with facts
A successful audit is the one that captures effective insights with facts, artefacts and certain reports that show what is the current status and how it can be improved. Make sure the service provider you finalize shows you some case studies, tools and platforms they use to conduct mystery shopping and comply to submit the reports regularly. Their system should be flexible enough to take your rebuttals. The tools used by them must be capable enough to show you the updated dashboards with graphs and charts, easy to download and accessible anywhere you go.
In the end…
Mystery shopping has become an important method to understand what’s actually happening inside your retail store. Keeping a tab on each and every member of the staff does not sound feasible and it is also not what you are looking at. Your business growth depends on customers’ satisfaction and you have to make sure that this is fulfilled by encouraging your staff and not criticizing them. The findings from the mystery shopping conducted should be well evaluated, used as an overall development and not considered as a mistake of any individual. Happy employees lead to happy customers, hence use mystery shopping to add value to your store and staff that impresses your end customers.