From the outside looking in, one may think that the more customers a company has, the higher its profits. However, this is not necessarily the case. Anyone with retail experience will tell you that building a network of loyal, repeat customers is the cornerstone to the success of your business.
Suppose your customer service, staff performance, or customer experience is not up to par. In that case, customers won’t return to your business, word of mouth will spread, and you will eventually lose income. As a business owner or executive, rectifying any problem areas in how your business is run can only be done after the problems have been identified. This is where mystery shopping programs come in.
Many businesses, especially in the retail and hospitality industries, aim to identify problem areas in their business performance by using mystery shopping agencies. Mystery shopping is a process whereby an independent person is hired, through an agency, to masquerade as a customer and perform an evaluation of your business to determine customer satisfaction and service quality. The hired mystery shopper will be an anonymous consumer and have no connection to you or any of your staff. This is to ensure that all reports remain unbiased.
The mystery shoppers will visit your business and rate their experience in an unbiased, professional, and thorough manner. They will complete a detailed report of the entire customer journey to their superiors, who will share the information with you so you will be aware of how customers perceive your company’s service and their experience as a whole.
Here are some of the benefits of hiring a mystery shopper to evaluate your business:
Get Valuable Feedback from a Customer’s Perspective
Mystery shoppers are trained professionals, so when they visit your business as a customer, they will take note of every aspect of the customer journey from start to finish. No matter how big or small an issue may be, it will be noted. This is a lot more effective than waiting for reports from your management or waiting until an actual customer brings forward a complaint.
This attention to detail and knowledge of the retail sector will help your business pinpoint specific areas for improvement that may have been flying under the radar. When you know how your customer experience, satisfaction, and brand perception are seen from a customer’s point of view, you can make the necessary changes to improve customer retention. Not only can this improve your customer loyalty, but the improvement in your business image can attract new customers.
Gives You Insight Into Staff Performance and Internal Procedures
Even if your employees are fully proficient in the business’s Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), sometimes the top-down approach to company standards and procedures still doesn’t have the desired effect at a store level. Even if your management department provides reports on business operations and staff behaviour, personal biases may hinder their ability to see problem areas (whether intentional or not).
The unbiased perspective of a professional shopper can provide you with actionable insights into your employee integrity and whether your operational procedures are working. Not only will this show you areas where further training or action may be needed, but the mystery shopper can also give you the following valuable insights:
- Are your current operational procedures working at a store level?
- How do your employees handle customer complaints?
- Are your sales representatives selling actively or passively?
- Does your staff have relevant product knowledge?
- Did your team acknowledge the customer when they walked in? (Smiling, greeting, or offering help; Or was the customer ignored?)
- Are employees presentable and abiding by the company dress code, if there is one?
- How do employees act when there isn’t a manager around?
- Are legal requirements and professional standards being met?
- Are your staff members on their cellphones in front of customers?
- Suggestions and recommendations for improvement.
Valuable Research into Your Competitors
Competitiveness is rife in the retail industry. If you know how your competition performs, what they’re doing, their business values, how they treat their customers, or how their layout works, you can see where you rank in comparison and how to improve. This will provide you with the competitive advantage your store may need to provide better customer service and put your store steps above your competitors.
Mystery shopping combines qualitative and quantitative market research, using professionals trained to evaluate an experience in a storefront environment. This doesn’t just help businesses like retail stores, but any company that offers some level of customer service. Contact Customer Perceptions today if you are located in Ireland or the UK and want to know more about mystery shopping or other ways you can improve your business performance.