The Versatility of Mystery Shopping

May. 01, 2023

The Versatility of Mystery Shopping

Today the success of any business can be measured by its consistency and how well the company can maintain its promise. In the modern retail industry, there is a high increase in competition due to the rise of technologies, enabling consumers to access all major data about the brand with just a few clicks. This scenario is an alarming signal for all companies to keep their brand reputation and customer satisfaction high. 
But this race seems to appear imaginary if the brand is not able to even measure the result. So, what is that one way to measure whether the brand strategies are properly executed in stores or not? Well, you might have already figured it out - Mystery Shopping is the right answer for brand rescue. It is a great way to keep and assure the quality standards of the brand. 

What is Mystery Shopping?

As the name already suggests, Mystery shopping is basically a method to study and understand the customer experience through a secretive identity. This research is generally done by a mystery shopper who pretends to be like an ordinary customer. They visit a brand store and collect authentic information about the service/product quality. In today's market, mystery shopping is a popular trend in customer research that assists businesses in testing their product or services. 

The process of mystery audit is applicable for different purposes like testing product quality, customer service or even employee performance. The main objective of secret shopping is to check whether the quality standards are met, as it fosters better customer satisfaction and business retention. Normally the satisfied customers share their experience publicly, while the unhappy ones prefer to leave negative remarks online or switch to another brand. This is where mystery shopping rescues the brands by tracking down such trends and applying corrective actions per requirements. 

The Purpose Behind Mystery Shopping

Mystery shopping is a method specially designed to deliver valuable insights to the brands that further lead to business improvement. The original purpose is to provide an unbiased opinion on how the company can improve its presence. Here, the mystery shopper will behave like a normal customer so that the business environment remains natural and relaxed as usual. Unlike professional visits, mystery shopping is a way to provide real-time customer behavior without any modifications and filters. 

Mystery shopping helps in the self-examination of the company. It is a great tool to learn whether the staff complies with the company's guidelines. Through mystery shopping, the business can examine customers' opinions on service quality, appearance, sales quality, honesty, and accuracy. 

Is it worth it?

Mystery shopping is important for your retail business for many reasons, such as the following:

Improved Customer Service

Mystery shopping is the best way to monitor sales in the areas where the company lacks. This program will let you know what areas genuinely face issues and provide the necessary feedback to counteract them. In simple words, mystery shopping will work like preventive customer service. With the help of this program, the business will be able to track down possible service issues even before they may affect sales. 

Excels Behavior

According to the Hawthorne effect, observation affects human behavior. No matter if your business has regional representatives’ visits to verify the standards and ethics being followed. But in this scenario, the employees change their behavior and habits when they meet their superiors or peers. Due to this reason, the manager will not be able to find out the real condition of the employees. But in the case of the mystery shopper, he will interact with any staff members and thus receive a real service. This conversation will be evaluated and compared to eliminate the oblique result. 

Boost Consistency

Mystery shopping is a powerful tool through which businesses can ensure all the benchmarks are met and even monitor the consistency level between the locations. If the customer gets great service in one store, he must receive the same level of satisfaction in another. But in the reality of retail trade or industrial goods/services work in this manner - the quality always varies. So if you need to deliver consistent services to your customers- you would require a good mystery shopping plan. 

Maintains Work Environment

Mystery shopping programs help hire, train, and even maintain employee contacts. The program is effective in communicating and assessing the company's expectations. Some mystery shopping companies even advise clients/businesses to implement a survey regarding the employee net promoter score. This means the quality of loyalty and ambassadorship from your employees.

Rewards and Incentives

Through mystery shopping, the company can find out its best employees, so why would the company miss rewarding its best team members? The company can provide incentives and rewards to the best employees through prizes and bonuses to boost employee morale. 

Therefore, a business must have an anonymous assessor for learning results, but make sure he is not an internal representative. Through mystery shopping, any business can give a multi-layered effect. 

Future Aspects of Mystery Shopping

There is no denying that things are operating differently in this digital age. Yet the core business remains dependent upon customer service. Despite how the products/services reach your customers, their experience is still important for any business. Due to this reason, Mystery shopping is incredibly relevant in the present context. 

Mystery shopping is effective in improving all aspects of the customer journey. For example: If customers visit and purchase from online stores, they will get the first impression of the business. This means the business needs to incorporate the right customer journey, which reflects the idea of the brand. Here the social media mystery shopping services can assist businesses to review all the social channels and get customer experience insights. It will help re-evaluate how to use social media for business benefits. Additionally, companies can guarantee a quick call/complaint from the customer side through calling. Due to this reason, communication over the phone is necessary for your success. 

Which Sectors Are Already Using Mystery Shoppers, and For What?

The mystery shoppers are secret shoppers whom the third-party company employs to visit restaurants, banks, or hospitals to assess customer service. 

1. Department & Specialty Stores- Indian Mystery shopping helps overcome the challenges retailers face in the competitive market. Thus the retailers use mystery shoppers to test their customer services and other checkout processes. 

2. Residential & Commercial Renting, Leasing & Sales- With the help of a mystery shopper, property owners can assess their skills and bring the vacancy rates to zero.

3. Health Care Providers- Consumers can have greater choices when choosing health care providers. However, the undercover shopper can pose as the patient, friend, or even a family member to extract valuable feedback on the quality of care provided. 

4. Banks & Investment Groups- In the case of monetary transactions, customers must have full confidence in the money handlers, whether it's the teller transactions or even guidance from financial advisors. Here the mystery shoppers assess the service to check whether the guidelines are being followed or not.

5. Hotels- Guests generally don't provide feedback before leaving a hotel, so mystery shoppers judge the overall services from bell to room service. Thus, provide genuine reviews to the hotels to ensure the guests return. This is the best advantage of a retail mystery audit. 

6. Online Business And Social Media- Online businesses use mystery shopping to check out the website's usability and even the possible errors. Social media companies track down the services of their representatives by responding to complaints and queries on social media platforms through mystery shopping surveys.

Final Words
According to a statistical report, 69% of customers leave the business due to poor customer service. Therefore, mystery shopping is the best way to gain practical insights that automatically lead to better customer service. In the presence of Internet facilities, mystery shopping has grown better in the last few years.

It represents a billion-dollar industry today and is even used in several countries. Additionally, the MSPA (Mystery Shopping Providers Association) conducted one of the tests to verify how many businesses were using mystery shopping. Over 8.1 million mystery shops were conducted, and the businesses that hired the shoppers for market research had an average growth of over 10%. This concludes that mystery shopping is a growing industry in India!