Mystery Shopping – How to use the results
The use of mystery shoppers is one way for a business to create a competitive edge. It may also serve retailers in developing and evaluating strategies to retain current customers. The first step in mystery shopping is to identify your firm’s important customer service characteristics and objectives—often flowing from your strategy and overall goals and objectives. Next a firm uses these variables to develop a mystery shopping questionnaire, either alone or with the help or a consultant or mystery shopping firm. The survey can include a mix of narrative and check-off questions. Typical areas of assessment are customer service, suggestive selling and up-selling techniques, teamwork, employee and management activities, headcount, store appearance and organization, merchandise displays and stock, cleanliness of the location, signage and advertising compliance, time in line and time elapsed for service, product quality, order accuracy, customer’s preferences, cash handling, and return policies. After pre-testing the questionnaire, mystery shoppers are hired to do an assessment. Assessments can be on-site or via the telephone or even the Internet. A sample size as well as a period of time for the mystery shopping program is determined and results are used for feedback.