Using Mystery Shopping Techniques

Hiring secret shoppers can improve your customer service and more

When customers enter your store, phone your firm or shop your Web site, are you certain that they're getting the best service possible? If not, it could be hurting your business more than you imagine. The majority of dissatisfied customers never complain; they simply never return to your place of business, and they tell their friends and colleagues about the poor experience.

To test the customer experience in your business, you may want to employ mystery shopping techniques, which can be used to:

  1. Evaluate your customer service
  2. Evaluate your Web site shopping experience
  3. Evaluate your competitors
  4. Evaluate employee honesty

Set your goals and objectives

Do you want to improve customer service, verify that employees aren't stealing from you, see what your competitors are doing that you aren't, improve customer satisfaction with your Web site or something else? Consider what information you want to gather and what you will do with it.

Recruit a mystery shopping provider

Reputable mystery shopping firms will help you determine how many shoppers you require for your program, the proposed number of shopping visits, the length of each visit and the frequency of repeat visits. They'll provide you with mystery shoppers who are not only savvy shoppers but also outstanding communicators who can share their observations with you.

Develop an assessment program

How will you assess the shopping experience? Will shoppers complete a survey, submit a summary, or answer open-ended and closed-ended questions?

Analyze your results

Analyzing the data you get from your mystery shoppers is key to getting the most out of the strategy. Determine which team members in your organization, such as managers and key employees, should have access to the results. Review your data to spot weakness and areas that need improvement.

Create and implement an action plan

Simply gathering the information serves no purpose; having a plan to act on it does. Your action plan could include strategies, such as offering additional employee training, creating an employee reward program for good customer service, making changes to your Web site or altering your staff's sales techniques.
  • Select mystery shoppers from the geographic region you're surveying to best understand the expectations of local shoppers.
  • Most mystery shoppers are independent contractors and not employees.
  • Your shoppers will only be as good as the training you provide them. Explain in detail their shopping role, the goal of the assessment tool and your expectations for communicating this information to the company or organization.

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