The success of a company is often determined by how consistent this company is and how it keeps its brand promise. Today’s retail industry is characterized by increasing competition and the rise of technologies that allow consumers to get all the necessary information about the brand by only accessing the Internet. That is why it is so important to keep your reputation and customer satisfaction high.

Yet, it is quite a tough task to control something that you cannot even measure, isn’t it? How can one measure how well brand strategies are executed in all stores across a business network? As you might have already guessed, mystery shopping is a hero your brand needs and deserves. This is the most efficient technique that helps to ensure keeping up to brand standards.

What Mystery Shopping Is

Mystery shopping is a practice that helps to better understand the experience of customers. It implies field-based research made by independent auditors who pretend to be customers. They are called “mystery shoppers.” They visit a particular business branch and gather information about the quality of service delivery and product.

 Since mystery shoppers pose as customers, it allows them to get an objective opinion of the business they study. Whenever a mystery shopper dispatches to visit a branch, they have a list of criteria with them that was compiled by the client. And based on these criteria, the mystery shopper evaluates service delivery and professionalism of the business’s employees.

How It Works

The majority of companies tend to entrust mystery shopping to specialized agencies. It often happens if a small business does not have enough resources to conduct proper research, or when a business is too large and has branches around the world.

Mystery shopping agencies find an experienced person who can match the client’s needs and become a great mystery shopper. Those agencies make a detailed briefing with each mystery shopper on what and how everything should be in the store, up to the cleanliness of the floors, and the location of the goods on the shelves. The instructions say how sellers are required to behave, how they should be dressed, and what they should say. Often there is a list of questions that a mystery shopper should ask store consultants. Hence, the “shopper” is dispatches pretty prepared. As an actor, whose role is spelled out to the smallest detail.

For example, a client’s instructions may be like the following one: “A seller must offer you a competent consultation and 2-3 products to choose from. The cashier should say hello, ask whether a customer has a discount, offer a package, and pack milk, bread, and fruit on their own in separate packages”. Of course, the instructions vary and depend on a business’s niche, preferences, and desired result. And when the reports are forwarded to the client, they can use it in various ways.

How Can Mystery Shopping Help Your Company?

First off, mystery shopping allows you to appraise the customer service provided by your company to understand its strong and weak sides. The research results show the professional skills of your employees: their attitude towards customers, knowledge about the product or service, and whether they follow the standards that our company has set.

Yet, if the report results show that your employees lack some of these qualities, it definitely does not mean that they are unprofessional, and you need to fire them. Instead, it means that you need to make a correction to the training programmer for your personnel and pay greater attention to employee coaching. Employee professionalism has a direct influence on customer satisfaction, which, in turn, stimulates sales.

Mystery shopping can be applied not only to one’s own business but also used to make an objective evaluation of competitors, their product, and service delivery quality. Later, the results of this research can be used for comparisons and benchmarking.

Final Thoughts

Mystery shopping is an invaluable method for business. If your products are sold badly while competitors sell much more, if consumers leave stores without making any purchases, or you doubt the diligence and skillfulness of your employees, then you should definitely turn to mystery shopping.

Mystery shopping can provide you with essential information about your business, but you also should be careful with this knowledge. Bad results are often not the fault of employees but rather of your inattentiveness to the training process of your personnel.