On the surface, mystery shopping looks to be very simple.
Closer inspection reveals that it is a very labor intensive and potentially complicated process. It shouldn’t be difficult, however, if you chose the right company. But it is a process that must be closely managed. A process that involves an experienced team.
The team includes your firm’s managers and the experts from the mystery shopping company. You need all the players in place on both sides to plan, coordinate, and design a properly functioning mystery shopping program.
A mystery shopping provider will want to meet (in person or virtually) with your management team several times before the program launches. How often depends on the complexity of your program.
A properly developed program has at its core a well-communicated purpose. Next, you need to identify who (people, locations, departments) will be shopped. And how often.
The mystery shoppers will fill a form that is designed based on the focus of the mystery shops. Ideally, it is not a boilerplate form but one customized to your needs. The form is developed, reviewed by your team, and edited until the ideal set of questions are in place.
And then, for a while, your team can relax.
Inside the Mystery Shopping Company
The mystery shopping Scheduler is then set to recruit, vet, schedule, and train your ideal mystery shoppers. An Account Manager is assigned to monitor progress, communicate with shoppers, and keep your team informed of the progress. Reports are sent to Quality Assurance. They are reviewed and edited to be sure the shopper performed the job as required.
You should have access to an on-line reporting system with a customized dashboard for your organization. Typically, this can be accessed while shops are underway, so you can see the results as soon as the shops are completed.
You will receive individual reports, analysis of the data, and recommendations at the end of each evaluation period. The mystery shopping team should tell you what worked and what needs adjusting from their experience. And they should listen to what worked and didn’t work for you – and then tweak accordingly.
If I were responsible for choosing a mystery shopping company to evaluate my firm, I would want to know:
- How the company is organized
- Experience levels of the staff
- Average turnaround time for reports
- Ability to analyze data
- Understanding of my industry so to make recommendations
- Level of communication and interaction with your team
You want a mystery shopping to deliver data that presents a clear picture of your customers’ experiences. And recommendations on which you can act.
Finding the mystery shopping company that has tight control over the work flow and a good team to support your program is vital to your success. Because remember … the customer is always watching!
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