Mystery shopping is designed to provide companies with valuable information that they may use to improve their business, service or product. A secret shopper is hired to visit a business location and will be assigned a specific task, which may include questions to ask, complaints to voice, purchases to make and certain business aspects to note. A mystery shopper must have a keen eye for detail and should notice even the smallest aspect of a business.
Mystery shopping can either include making purchases or simply evaluating customer service. For instance, if a customer line is long and the wait time is dreadful, a mystery shopper will need to evaluate the situation and give his/her opinion on how to improve it. Are more employees needed? Is there a store layout that could improve functionality and help to initiate shorter wait times? These are all important questions that a professional mystery shopper should be able to answer.
Because the purpose of mystery shopping is to provide an unbiased opinion on how a company can improve its presence, the mystery shopper will pose as a customer and secretly evaluate all aspects of a location. In acting as a customer, the employees will not realize they are being evaluated and, unlike a planned visit from the head office, the atmosphere will be more relaxed and will provide a natural look at how a business truly operates. Many companies employ the use of comment cards, which are provided for customers to offer their opinions and insight into a store and how it could be improved.
When a professional mystery shopper is hired, he/she will provide the same information from a consumer standpoint, but with a professional flair. Because this approach is invaluable, mystery shopping is commonly used in every industry. Although retail, restaurant, banking and convenience store locations have been at the top of the list as businesses most likely to employ mystery shoppers, it would be difficult to find an industry that does not use secret shopping services.
If you want to know where mystery shopping services could prove to be beneficial, simply look around you. Anywhere there are customers to shop, products to be sold or services to be purchased, a mystery shopper could be invaluable. If a company believes that there is always room for improvement, they are likely to realize the importance of a third party evaluation that offers insight in the form of a written assessment. The mystery shopping industry not only detects what may need improving, but also can help to recognize valuable services and/or quality. In a world where prompt and effective customer service is often difficult to come by, it is important for a company to know which employees and/or locations are excelling in the way that they handle both the customers and the daily business operations.
Mystery shopping can be used as a way of identifying outstanding employees and potentially even rewarding them with incentives to keep up the good work. Overall, mystery shopping is designed to promote improvement when needed and recognition when deserved. The only way to know for sure which category a particular business falls into is to take away the mystery and hire a secret shopper.
Brian Dolezal is a contributing editor for TopConsumerReviews.com, a leading provider of independent reviews and rankings for hundreds of consumer products. You can find out how top mystery shopping programs compare by visiting TopConsumerReviews.com today.