Mystery shopping is becoming more and more important for businesses to ensure they offer exemplary customer service. So what is it? I hear you ask. Well Mystery shopping sounds mysterious and alludes to something covert and spy-like. The reality is not quite as glamorous as the image of an international spy but nevertheless the mystery shopper provides a similar service. Mystery shopping is utilised by businesses that want to have someone impartial analyse the performance of their staff and the services they offer.
The company will employ a mystery shopper typically to visit their place of work and provide feedback so that the company can make sure there company is up to scratch in the areas that the mystery shopper has been dispatched to analyse.
There are a number of areas in which a mystery shopper can be useful. This can be by visiting a store, shop, restaurant or other place of work where the staff are customer facing and provide a report on their performance. These reports are typically a mixture of both qualitative, the opinion of the person that has performed the analysis, and quantitative. Often the mystery shopper will be asked to fill out a form with ratings on different aspects of the performance that they have experienced. Because much of the information they provide can be quantified this makes it very easy for the company that have employed the mystery shopper to keep on track with their performance. Figures can be collated and used to keep track on the performance of the area that has been scrutinised. As a result this is a very welcome method of analysing performance.
There are a number of different types of mystery shopping and these types of mystery shopping tend to be used for analysing specific areas of a businesses relationship with their customers. One of the most exciting types of mystery shopping is covert video shopping. This type of shopper attaches a video camera discretely to their person and then proceeds to enter the place of work that they are analysing and film the interaction that they have with the staff. The cameras these shoppers used are extremely small and should be indistinguishable to the employees. The video mystery shopper will perform a pre-determined task such as buying a skirt or returning an item and they film the interaction. Alongside the film footage they also submit a written report.
Another typical type of mystery shopping that is utilised by a wide variety of companies is email mystery shopping. This type of mystery shopping makes use of the modern technology of email. The mystery shopper will be asked to monitor the communication they receive from a company through email. This is a vital aspect of modern business and is all too often overlooked by managers and they do not have to deal directly with customers this way. Nevertheless it is vital that the communication that you have will customers over email is spot on. Customers deserve the same level of respect and time as you would give them face to face. It is also important that you offer them as much as you can through the email. Often customers of your are interested in the new products that you offer so you need to make sure that you tell them about them. If used effectively the email mystery shopper will give you useful feedback on this vital aspect of the modern business to make sure that you can get it right in the future. This job can be done from home as all you need to monitor email is a computer. Like all forms of mystery shopping the mystery shopper will fill out a form along with supplying qualitative information about the service they received.
Shaun Parker has worked in the customer service training industry and is an expert on mystery shopping.