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Mystery shopping at Retail Stores – Types, Benefits

Mystery shopping at Retail Stores – Types, Benefits

Mystery shopping at Retail Stores – Types, Benefits, Objectives and common mistakes

Testing a market, your product or service has become painless with the dynamic mystery shopping program. It is very much in demand in every industry including the retail industry. Every businessperson is inclined towards having mystery shoppers collate and present insights to them about their business from a fresh perspective. These insights can then be used to build the existing business and work on customer experience (CX) and customer experience management (CXM).

This blog will help you understand what is mystery shopping, the different types of mystery shopping, the benefits of mystery shopping in the retail industry, what mystery shoppers do and common mistakes in mystery shopping that you can avoid.

What is Mystery Shopping?

To simply put it across, mystery shopping is a businessperson’s dream come true. In other words, mystery shopping is a part of the customer experience management program run by the retail industry in order to test the customer service, quality of products, or employee performance. The retail brand may choose to hire a customer experience company or run it internally. They select a number of test customers to step into their retail stores and evaluate the service quality. The chosen people are called the mystery shoppers and they must, at no cost, give away their identity. They are trained and educated about their objective and must get an accurate reading of the retail store in question. Mystery shoppers are experts who can check and report quality, ambience, hygiene and performance in an unbiased format. Retail industry trends have made it mandatory for retail brands to ensure that customer satisfaction is achieved and that every customer journey is smooth. A mystery shopping solution as a part of robust customer experience management is the best method to achieve that. Mystery shoppers can help businesses track trends and take effective measures where ever necessary! Customer satisfaction is the one thing that can make your retail company a market leader. Even in this market where it is difficult to attain new customers and the importance of customer retention has increased like never before.

What do companies look for while hiring a mystery shopper?

Secret shopper jobs or mystery shopper jobs require individuals to have impeccable communication skills, attention to detail, and good writing skills. They are also required to be quick in action so they can respond firmly in difficult or unforeseen situations. Trained and experienced secret shoppers do not give their opinion. They simply assess situations presented in plain sight at the retail store meticulously. They look at every potential problem that could be getting in the way of reaching out to customers or having customers not come back to the store.

What are the different types of Mystery Shopping?

There are 3 major types of mystery shopping - in-person, telephonic and hybrid. Mystery shopping research can be conducted in person, over a telephone conversation, or online. However, the goal remains the same - getting an insight into the customer service and customer experience provided by the company.

The retail industry is familiar with in-person secret shopping or on-field mystery shopping where the mystery shopper goes into the store to evaluate every aspect including pleasantries, helpfulness, urgency in resolving issues, promotions and more. This is also common at restaurants. Telephone mystery shopping is specific to a call centre environment. At a retail store, many employees call customer care or call the store for directions. In such a situation mystery shoppers measure how efficiently and effectively call centre agents or employees can handle calls from customers. They also check for tone, helpfulness and how pleasant the agent was to the customer. Hybrid mystery shopping on the other hand involves mystery shoppers following through with an entire customer journey. All aspects of the customer experience, starting from the moment a customer checks in up until they check out is evaluated, analysed and eventually reported back. All three types give companies a comprehensive look at how well they are adhering to their customer experience management procedure.

Benefits of Mystery Shopping in retail industry

  • Thorough market research and customer satisfaction surveys
  • Helps in understanding staff performance
  • Presents insights on if employees are following standards
  • Gathers customer feedback
  • Identifies problems and provides solutions
  • Provides constructive feedback on internal procedures of your business
  • Helps evaluate new products or find how existing products are selling

What is the purpose of mystery shopping?

This self-examination procedure helps the retail industry and the biggest retail brands get information on their:

  • Quality of service
  • Employee behaviour
  • Sales quality
  • Appearance and ambience
  • Accuracy

Being able to get information on so many major factors can make even the biggest challenges in the retail industry seem manoeuvrable and easy to fix!

Steps on how to set up mystery shopping at a retail store

  1. Find an objective. What do you want to figure out and which potential issue are you trying to resolve? It could be the quality of service, identifying certain weaknesses in cleanliness, rechecking the aura and ambience of the store or more.
  2. Develop an evaluation sheet or a questionnaire of sorts which you can make using the criteria of your objective. This will guide your mystery shopper on how each element of customer satisfaction should be evaluated.
  3. Find your mystery shopper or secret shopper and get going!

After the mystery shopper has fulfilled their little undercover mission they get back with the reports and record them for further analysis using which improvement and scope for growth are discussed.

Common mistakes in mystery shopping/Mystery shopping tips:

Choosing the wrong mystery shopper

You cannot use a friend to mystery shop for you! You must hire an experienced individual who knows exactly what to look for and where. Your business is in question here and it is necessary that you, as a retailer make the right choices, and hire the right customer experience company that has trained mystery shoppers.

Scratching the surface

Your questions must be more than just surface-level. For example, “was the staff friendly” is not enough to evaluate if your staff was good. Such a question can be broken down in multiple ways:

  1. Did the staff help you when asked about a specific product.
  2. Was the cashier pleasant and cheerful
  3. Were you greeted at the entrance
  4. How long was the response time to a query
  5. Were you offered beverages, etc?

Currently, the biggest challenge in the retail industry is to retain customers and achieve customer satisfaction. But do not be alarmed because the biggest change in the retail industry can be brought about by the mystery shopping program. Leading customer experience companies like SonataGBW has over thousands of trained mystery shoppers globally who can work undercover, record and report exactly those details that when fixed can make you grow! Our robust mystery shopping program includes program consultation and design, data capture and action tracking, program creation and delivery and reporting and analytics! In fact, we also have our own KODO-CX app that delivers mobile reporting requirements straight to your territory managers.

Our CX solutions are focused on transforming the total customer experience through surveys, metrics, analytics and auditing by using the CXM framework to combine physical measurements with digital Platformation™ capabilities. We are committed to finding the right customer experience strategy that can lead to a competitive advantage.

Sonata GBW is a global technology company specializing in customer experience CX measurement, platform-based digital transformation, supporting businesses to become connected, open, intelligent and scalable. Global coverage of more than 105 markets with over 27 years of market leadership through extensive measurement capabilities, powerful and intuitive reporting and analytics platforms give us the leverage to improve customer experience. It has presence across USA, Canada, EMEA and APAC regions. If you would like to know more about how we can assist you, please fill out the business enquiry form below.