Mystery shopping? What exactly is that anyway? There are many people who haven’t heard of the term, and probably misinterpret it when they hear it for the first time. A mystery shopper is a paid consumer who is hired to shop in certain stores and collect data on businesses and their products. They are undercover customers who are sent to interact, observe and report on stores, other customers and store employees. So, what exactly do mystery shoppers do?
What Does a Mystery Shopper Do?
Mystery shopping providers select and hire specific consumers to make retail transactions at targeted stores and create a detailed record of the experience. They purchase items, they eat in restaurants, they may even return items simply to report back on the experience. They are not so much hired to provide opinions, but rather to generate detailed, objective reports on a business and its employees from the customer’s perspective. They are usually given a list of survey questions to help the market research company assess the performance of the targeted businesses. They may be asked to provide information on matters such as:
- The number of employees that were on duty;
- The greeting and service the mystery shopper received from the staff (Friendly? Helpful? How long did it take? etc.)
- Name(s) of employee(s) with whom they interacted;
- Type of products shown, and the sales pitch they were given, including whether there were any additional items suggested for you to purchase;
- If they were invited to return to the store or offered sign-up for mailing lists, credit accounts, etc.
- How quickly they received service and if the service was satisfactory.
- The cleanliness and hygiene standards of the store itself, as well as the staff.
- The personal grooming and appearance of the employees (were they appropriately dressed, were uniforms clean, etc.) and if employees adhered to any store dress codes.
Where Are Mystery Shoppers Sent?
Shoppers are sent to a wide variety of service-based businesses: stores, boutiques, restaurants, fast food outlets, banks, hotels, airports and even apartment complexes – any business whose interaction with its customers needs to be assessed. Generally speaking, the companies in question will contract a provider to conduct mystery shopping for them, so that they can gain some understanding of how well they are performing in terms of customer service and other criteria.
Customer Perceptions are leaders in market research solutions. With 27 years of experience, we have developed bespoke research solutions to help our clients to enhance their customer experience, gain insight into their competitors, increase customer retention, monitor standards and ultimately, increase sales and revenue. Mystery shopping is one of the services we offer to help businesses assess their performance as merchants or service providers. If you would like to learn more about what mystery shoppers do, and see how mystery shopping can help you assess and improve your business, contact us for more information.