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Retail challenges that mystery shopping can help you solve

Retail challenges that mystery shopping can help you solve

What happens when a business functions in multiple locations, various branches or functions through more than one source?

There are chances of the brand’s centralized policies, rules and regulations being diluted. The biggest challenge faced by a company that has various branches or franchises is being heavily impacted when multiple cultures and languages come into the picture or when it functions on various platforms simultaneously. Mystery Shopping is a research method that can measure your consistency and performance through various tests in every location/branch/platform and analyze data.

What is Mystery Shopping?

Mystery shopping is a method of testing used in customer experience management (CXM) to check the quality of services. In fact, it is used in various segments of the company. The test can be run to check the:

  • Atmosphere and Ambience of the store
  • Quality of products
  • Sales consultation
  • Employee performance
  • Usabilitys
  • Delivery
  • Returns
  • Customer service

Customer experience companies rigorously hire and train mystery shoppers who go through the buying and interaction/indulging process in a business just as any regular shopper would to evaluate the service quality. The mystery shopper is not recognized as a shopper and pretends to be a regular customer for an accurate interpretation of the situation. Mystery shoppers keenly note every aspect while they go through the process and report back with what they experience as a shopper in the store/on the site. The minutest of details are picked up and scrutinized to work effectively towards the company’s growth.

How does the mystery shopping solution help your company?

  • Your main aim as a company is customer satisfaction and customer success. This is what leads you to customer retention, positive experiences from the customer’s point of view and positive feedback which eventually becomes your strength. Good feedback can make you top the charts. Mystery shopping allows your business to track trends and take corrective measures wherever necessary by noticing gaps in the customer experience management which we will be discussing further in the blog.
  • Companies that have introduced themselves in new locations should take effective measures to attend to the target audience. Failing this means taking a direct impact on your revenue. For example: F&B giants like McDonald’s, Domino’s, In-n-out, etc. all do a palette research to tweak their recipes so that the menu can adapt to the taste buds of the locals in different countries. Mystery shopping assists companies that are failing to adapt to the culture of the space where they have newly set up.
  • Another important factor for companies is to ensure that they are not only introducing themselves in new spaces but also increasing their revenue and reaching the required ROI. The mystery shopping solution provided by customer experience companies analyses current operational methods on-ground and provides logical and sustainable approaches to the situation for you to function. For example: Upselling products to increase billing amounts.
  • Noticing cleanliness and reporting the lack thereof. Cleanliness and an ambience that is not the mood of the brand can affect your customer loyalty and must be taken seriously. For example: if a new branch does not maintain the washroom or plays music that does not suit your target audience can result in a bad customer experience and must be reported.
  • Feedback from customers is always tough to attain. Through customer experience services like voice of customer research (VOC), companies can employ better methods of feedback collection like asking a customer at the counter to quickly fill up a feedback form that will take them barely a minute while. This solves the purpose of gathering data while not disturbing the customer too much.

Brands are exceptionally particular about their store because it is their way of inviting more and more customers in who can talk them up for having good CX. Brands hold many audits to ensure they are on the right track to build their CX through CXM which increases customer loyalty and customer satisfaction. Let’s discuss some of the audits that brands adhere to.

  • Merchandising Audits: they focus mainly on the visual checks like product placements and making sure all the products and brands are complying to the directives that have been suggested by the store and brands. Merchandising audits include checks on how the store looks and if it is an easy space for customers to shop at. A store merchandising audit can tell you so much about the store like what product is selling the best, information on the restocking patterns of the store, which part of the store is most visited by customers, etc. These essential pieces of data can help a brand re-do their store set-up, work on promotional activities or signages and other visual factors in the store that can increase sales.
  • Health and Safety Audits: every brand must look at store health and safety audits as an important part of their CX routine. This is not only because they do not want angry customers complaining about cleanliness but also because it can lead to health hazards and no brand wants to step into a rabbit hole of warrants. The stores should be able to protect their employees and customers equally from any unforeseen circumstances. Health and safety audits in retail stores can give you a reflection of what is possibly wrong or what could go wrong in a hypothetical circumstance.
  • Operational Audits: many stores conduct operational audits in retail stores from time to time to check up on procedures like cash handling and returns/exchanges. However, leading firms always do routine compliance on the daily as an opening and closing procedure. These audits are done to make sure that the employees are all on the same page, their training and operations are all divided and they are ready to face day-to-day situations without lag.

Mystery shopping jobs/Mystery shopper hiring

Mystery shoppers are typically employed by customer experience companies or by businesses themselves. The skills of mystery shoppers however remain the same. Companies look for individuals who have impeccable communication skills, are very attentive and are impulsive/think on their feet. They must also have good writing skills. These incognito shoppers should be prepared for any situation and also be able to find the necessary data they are set to collect. Customer experience companies who focus on customer experience transformation through methods like mystery shoppers give their employees extensive training. They are prepared to bring their best foot forward and collect accurate data that can help companies in making better decisions.

Moving onto what retail challenges you can overcome through mystery shopping. We have shortlisted 4 major challenges that we will address in this blog to help you understand how mystery shoppers help a business with mystery shopping examples.

  1. Optimizing CX

    Today every customer touchpoint is critically analyzed because as we know customers are willing to pay more for a product/service if they are provided with a good customer experience. Mystery shopping can be a crucial factor in contributing to better customer experience (CX) and customer experience management (CXM). What does seem seamless in meeting and conference rooms can actually turn out to be difficult for a customer on ground. Mystery shoppers that pose as regular shoppers can identify these gaps and report it to companies through reporting platforms made specifically for clients. Mystery shopping example that can optimize CX:

    Imagine you hire a mystery shopper for a restaurant that is known to serve the best food in Northern California and they find out that although the food is excellent:

    • The waiting time is too long
    • The different courses are served in long gaps
    • The staff takes too long to send the cheque to your table
    • There are too many staff asking for verbal feedback

    All of these above situations can result in bad reviews and negative feedback from the customer’s end even if they enjoyed what they essentially came to the restaurant for. This can be difficult to contain. So to truly understand the customer journey the restaurant should develop an ongoing customer experience program that can solve these issues - an insight only a dynamic survey like the mystery shopping survey can give you!

  2. Creating an Omni-channel experience

    The right kind of CX trains companies to approach their customers from every channel that they would like to access with the same story. However, the customers do not want to be disturbed, so if your business does not need to approach the customer from a certain channel mystery shopping can identify that and warn the business to avoid using it. Mystery shopping is curated to explore the individual experience with every channel and eventually compare one to another. For example: A retail company mystery shopping solution can find that customer support via chatbot is seeming to be difficult and the shopper is unable to get the help they desire. The data come across while investigating as a mystery shopper could be recorded and gathered. With this said data which will then be reported the retail company can take a holistic view of customer touchpoints across all channels. The company can then take actions like investing in a new channel like an telephonic conversation with an agent that gives swift solutions.

  3. Enhancing the Online Experience

    A regular shopper shops for 44 hours a month - online. Their shopping activity is a way for you to increase revenue and so your website must be maneuverable, have easy navigation, function properly, have live chat and account setup. Customers should also be able to easily add an item to the cart, checkout, and have shipping options that are visible without making a purchase. This type of user experience (UX) can be spotted easily by a mystery shopper and any hitch in the system can be reported.

  4. Tracking your Competition

    Mystery shopping is the easiest and most effective method to understand customer experience strategies that your competitors are using. They are never going to let you find out what is making them better than you. Mystery shoppers can access public data from a different perspective by shopping on their sites or stores themselves. They can run these mystery shopping surveys on hundreds of competitors in your market. With an aim to find out all the important information about competitors that you could have otherwise neglected. Now, you can refer to the state-of-art technology and improve your CX.

Creating omni-channel customer journeys is a true challenge in every industry and mystery shopping insights can help you develop the perfect strategy to combat such challenges. Mystery shopping surveys can help your brand attain consistency across every location and platform and give your competitors a run for their money.

Companies like Sonata GBW provide CX services that employ trained and tactful mystery shoppers who can collect data, provide insights and report them on our GDX Reporting platform for you to excel as retailers. We have helped fortune 1000 companies in reaching their desired customer satisfaction, customer retention and customer success goals.

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.