How a Mystery Shopper Program Can Help with Retail Quality Control
10/22/2012 5:09 PM
The biggest advantage of employing a mystery shopper program is that you can audit and compare the shopping experience of customers visiting your retail store without the involvement of any initial bias. A mystery shopper program is so effective in letting you know exactly how the average customer comes across the service provided at your retail store because none of the staff members neither knows the identity of the mystery shopper nor expects such a visit.
Though the use of mystery shoppers has become very popular in recent years, mystery shopping has been employed by retail stores in one form or the other since the 40s and 50s. Today, mystery shopping, with the integration of hidden cameras and audio equipment, has become the most effective way of examining the shopping experience of customers visiting a retail store.
The retail industry is not the only industry benefiting from the services of mystery shoppers. Mystery shopping is being effectively employed for auditing and examining customer service in restaurants, hotels, movie theatres, fast food chains, banks, gas stations, car dealerships, apartments, amusement parks, fitness centres, even health care facilities. Mystery shopping is not merely being employed for examining and auditing the service provided in the aforementioned establishments, but has become truly essential for the optimization of the service provided there.
In recent years, many business establishments have linked executive pay to customer satisfaction. This has further compounded the importance of mystery shoppers. That’s so because service providers have an incentive to provide excellent service, and since there is no telling a mystery shopper from an actual, they have to treat every customer as a mystery shopper. As there is a fair possibility of every potential customer being a mystery shopper, service providers provide high quality service on a regular basis, which allows retail stores to maintain a high level of customer service.
Unfortunately, implementing a mystery shopper program can be costly, especially one in collaboration with a reputed mystery shopping service. Retail store owners whose businesses are not doing very well can find it a little tough to bear the added expense of employing a mystery shopper program. But the expenses associated with mystery shopping are inevitable––expenses they cannot afford to ignore if they are to ensure that high quality service is provided at their stores.
Mystery shops for small and low-end retail stores don’t pay very well, which is obviously a disadvantage for a mystery shopper taking such a mystery shop. Some mystery shoppers may feel that they are not being well compensated for their time and effort. But as such mystery shops are usually very simple and straightforward and require minimal mystery shopping experience, mystery shopping services try to choose relatively new mystery shoppers for such mystery shops, who need to build their reputation by taking up as many mystery shops as possible––even the not-very-high-paying ones. With mystery shopping becoming more popular with each passing day and more and more retail stores implementing a mystery shopper program, this disadvantage is bound to lessen in its extent. That’s because a significant increase in the number of mystery shops will naturally counterbalance the issue of not-very-high-paying retail mystery shops. After all, the average mystery shopper will prefer a greater number of not-very-high-paying mystery shops to a mere handful of high paying ones any day.
In today’s highly competitive business world, mystery shopping is of utmost important when it comes to retail quality control. Mystery shopping is especially important in the case of franchises and other similar business systems where the stakeholders are not in a position to directly monitor and audit the service process.
Critics of mystery shopping may regard it as a means of constant undue pressure on service providers––a pressure that constantly keeps them on their toes. But as customer satisfaction and executive pay have been linked, mystery shopping also serves as an incentive for them to work hard and deliver high quality service. And what about the fact that the optimization of service is crucial when it comes to customer satisfaction?