By @Pragati Agrawal
What is Mystery Shopping?
Mystery Shopping is a method of testing the quality of services. It can be used to test the quality of products, customer service, or employee performance. The company or management selects test customers to
evaluate their own service quality. The mystery shopper must not be recognized as a shopper and must act like a regular customer in order to get an accurate reading of the situation. The Secret Shopping is done
to check if the company’s quality standards are met and whether employees are following procedure.
The primary goal of Secret Shopping is customer satisfaction, which leads to growth and retention of business. Satisfied customers will tell their friends about their experience, while unhappy customers are more
likely to leave negative reviews online or even switch companies altogether. Mystery Shopping helps businesses track these trends and take corrective action where necessary.
Secret Shoppers are usually employed by other companies, but can also be employed by businesses themselves as part of their own marketing strategy. When it comes to hiring Secret Shoppers, most companies
look for individuals who have excellent communication skills, attention to detail, and writing skills.
Evolution of Mystery Shopping :- In the period as early as the 1940s, Mystery Shopping was used for integrity and security evaluations. People were hired to go into stores and steal things! This was to check
whether the staff is equipped to handle such situations. But now with advanced technology security cameras, such checks are not needed. Mystery Shopping has now adapted itself and grown into a customer
service oriented programme.
Currently Mystery Shopping is used for a wide variety of situations. Mystery Shopping is applicable, but is not limited to the following situations:
1. Compliance Issues: A mystery shopper is hired to pose as an underage teenager trying to buy alcohol and check whether he or she is caught and stopped at the retail counter. The compliance check can be
extended to several other situations too such as at movie theatres to check whether a youngster buying tickets for an adult movie is 18 years of age or above.
2. Sales Techniques: Waiters at restaurants are usually trained for suggestive selling techniques and for trying to upsell a dish. Mystery Shopping is used for inspecting the waiters wherein the shopper poses as
a customer to verify whether a waiter is doing what he is supposed to do as per his training.This method is used for practically all types of sales people such as real estate brokers, business development
managers, etc to check their expertise and hence their worthiness.
3. Competition: Since a store’s manager himself cannot check out his competitor, mystery shoppers are hired to size up the competition’s merchandise, deals and overall feeling of the store.Though mystery
shopping is more popular for restaurants and retail outlets, it is also done for numerous other services such as banks, apartment buildings, cell phone providers, car dealers, health care providers, movie theatres,
Types of Mystery Shopping :-
1. In-Person Secret Shopping :- In-Person Secret Shopping is common in industries such as retail and restaurant. Mystery shoppers visit a business and interact with employees as if they were customers. This type
is often used to measure how well employees provide service and how well the business is performing from a customer’s perspective.
2. Telephone Mystery Shopping :- Telephone Mystery Shopping is for call center environments and industries where the telephone is an integral part of the customer experience.
For example, a telecommunications company might use telephone Mystery Shopping to measure how efficiently its call center agents handle calls from customers.
3. Hybrid Mystery Shopping :- Hybrid Mystery Shopping involves mystery shoppers following an entire customer journey. This type of Mystery Shopping is popular because it delivers a World-Class Customer
Experience. For example, a hotel might use hybrid Mystery Shopping to measure all aspects of the customer experience, from check-in to checkout.
How to become a secret shopper ?
1. Acquire the necessary skills :
b) Good communication
c) Convincing acting
2. Sign up with many companies :- 2. Sign up with many companies
For you to get more money as a secret shopper, you may find it necessary to engage yourself with many companies at once. This allows you a wide variety of jobs and may ensure that you always have work to
earn your money. You may discover trustworthy companies by researching on the internet and through secret shopper forums, groups, and meetups.
3. Acquire useful gear :- Getting the right gear may allow you to perform your duties while ensuring employees don't recognize you. Correct gear also allows you to gather every necessary detail. Here are
examples of equipment that can help you perform your tasks well:
a) Correct attire
b) Quality recording equipment
c) Reliable computer and internet access
d) Good transportation
e) Adequate money
4. Organize your work :- Since you may handle many assignments simultaneously, it may be essential to learn how to organize each task to avoid confusion. If you're taking notes, ensure you separate your
work into different notebooks to avoid mixing crucial details. It can be helpful for you to organize the work requirements for each company to ensure you deliver the right report to each company.
5. Conduct your assignments in a thorough manner
Once you pick a task, it may be crucial to ensure that you perform it according to the client's instructions. If a job requires you to be at a store by a certain time, then it may be imperative that you're there.
Some jobs may also require you to perform complex tasks, such as purchasing particular items at a specific hour or interacting with specific sales associates. Attention to such minor details may help you
get excellent reviews from companies.
Benefits of Mystery Shopping :- There are several benefits of Mystery Shopping, including:
1. It can be used for market research and customer satisfaction surveys.
2. Companies can get an understanding of their staff performance with Mystery Shopping.
3. It is a method of gathering customer feedback in order to identify problems and provide solutions.
4. Mystery shoppers allow a company to get an impartial perspective of their customers, who are their primary critics.
5. You can use a mystery shopper to evaluate new products or gauge how well your current ones are selling.
Methods for conducting Mystery Shopping :- While in person / on store check is the most widely used method, the Mystery Shopping exercise is also done through:
2. Website and social media
3. Hidden audio / video recording
Purpose of Mystery Shopping :- The aim of Mystery Shopping is a self-examination of the company. It is used to learn whether the staff comply with the guidelines and regulations. Therefore, the results of test
purchases are not shared with the outside world.
These are the criteria that test customers normally examine:
1. Quality of service
3. Sales quality
4. Quality of advice
What is a Secret Shopper ?
Mystery shoppers, sometimes called Secret Shoppers, are often employed by a third-party company to visit stores and restaurants, banks and apartment complexes with the specific purpose of assessing customer
service. They provide a record of their experience which can be used to improve the business.The person hired is not allowed to give their opinion, but must assess the situation and report any potential issues or
concerns they discover. Mystery shoppers complete surveys to collect data which may include observations as a casual observer, plus specific questions asked by the mystery shopper.
Mystery shoppers are required to note how cleanliness of the store or facility is and if dress codes are adhered to. The company may pay for some purchases, such as those required by work-related activities;
they can also get free food or an oil change as part of their deal when they mystery shop certain businesses.
What makes a Secret Shopper a good mystery shopper?
1. The first is having good written communication skills; this way, you can accurately document your findings in the shop report.
2. The second is having a good memory – details are important for a shop report, as they allow the company to see what you saw in your interactions with employees. Remembering certain aspects of the visit
will help you write an accurate and informative report.
3. The third key skill for mystery shoppers is being discreet – don’t bust your own cover. Be aware of how you’re dressed and behaving while performing the “shopping” process; Mystery Shopping can be easily
spotted if done incorrectly.
4. Lastly, have good interpersonal skills in order to interact with employees and customers during the shopping process. This will give you an idea of what kind of customer service the company provides. Being
polite and professional will also leave a good impression on those who you interacted with during your visit.
Conclusion :- Mystery Shopping is definitely an effective tool to gain insight into the customer needs and improve in areas where a company is lacking. It also helps in checking the employees’ morality and
effectiveness. However, a challenge with this technique is maintaining mystery shopper quality and integrity.
Pragati Agrawal MBA
AirCrews Aviation Pvt. Ltd.