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A Crash Course on the World of Mystery Shopping

When it comes to market research, sometimes it is easy to overlook an obvious source of data: your own place of business. However, the challenge is distinguishing what you plan as your customers’ experience and what they actually experience. How does your staff treat customers when you’re not around? What does someone coming to your workplace for the first-time notice? 

One unique way of answering such questions is to hire a “mystery shopper,” someone who comes into a workplace posing as a customer and then reports back to you on what they experienced. Let’s take a quick look at what they do to see if this could be a valuable tool for your business. 

Typical Things Mystery Shoppers Evaluate

It’s understandable if the term “mystery shoppers” brings to mind someone wearing a trench coat and sunglasses skulking around a department store. But the mystery shoppers can do much more than inspect what inventory is out on the floor. When it comes to visiting physical storefronts, mystery shoppers can report on things such as:

  • Cleanliness and maintenance of the location
  • Aesthetically pleasing presentation of products
  • Accuracy of signage and other written material
  • Length of time to receive assistance 
  • Staff’s helpfulness (they are courteous, informative, etc.)  
  • Sales are correctly rung up and inventoried

Mystery shoppers can also provide similar services for call centers and even virtual storefronts—assessing response times, requests for help, and proper fulfillment of sales. 

Choosing Mystery Shoppers 

When choosing mystery shoppers, you might initially select someone representing your prototypical customer. But use them as a baseline of information. And then, consider selecting mystery shoppers outside of your customer base, to see if their experience differs from your traditional customers. For example, you might want a mystery shopper whose first language is other than English to see if your staff knows how to best assist them. Hire mystery shoppers from various ethnic backgrounds or those with less expertise in your field to ensure they receive the same quality of care as your more typical customer. 

When it comes to staffing mystery shoppers, companies hiring prefer to conduct in-house training to give the shoppers specific guidance. However, market research firms can also handle the staffing and training for you. They can choose mystery shoppers from the customer bases you want to serve, not just those you are already selling to. 

For a deeper dive into understanding how mystery shopping or other customer experience analysis can benefit your business, contact the team members at Ebony Marketing Systems. We are experts at designing communication strategies and conducting research that reaches people in a new way. For more information, call us at (718)742-0006 or send us a message today.

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