A methodology that evaluates points of contact between customers and a brand. Mystery shopping processes are conducted anonymously and can be used in the analysis of processes and standardizations.
In addition to including visits to the store, this evaluation can also evaluate telephone and online service, sales channels, and several other items.
Mystery Shopping and Customer Experience
Before explaining further what Mystery Shopping means, it is important to talk about Customer Experience.
Until 2018, more than 50% of organizations will redirect their investments to customer experience innovations, according to an estimate conducted by Gartner. Mystery Shopping is a key part of the starting point for implementing successful strategies.
According to data from the most recent research on the subject, we have come the following information:
- 60% of consumers have already intended to make a purchase, but have given it up because of poor service – American Express
- 58% would never use a company again after a negative experience – NewVoice
- 74% are willing to spend more on companies that offer excellent service – American Express
- 50% would buy from a company more often after a positive customer service experience – NewVoice
- 79% of consumers who complained about service quality were ignored – Kissmetric
- 80% of large companies believe they offer "superior" service, but only 8% of consumers reported getting "superior" service from these companies – Bain & Co.
- It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for 1 unresolved negative experience – Glance
- On average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times more than their first purchase – Institute of Customer Service
Mystery Shopping is conducted with the purpose of evaluating whether the quality standards of a brand are being delivered and what real experience customers are experiencing on a day-to-day with the company is – whether in the store, by phone, on a website or any other point of contact.
With the increasing access to customized information channels, customer experience has undergone a great evolution. Customer interaction points with the brand have become more diverse. Every interaction, sensation, impression, and action of the customer is significant to the continuity or disruption of the relationship with the company.
What is Mystery Shopping?
Now that you know what the relationship between Customer Experience and Mystery Shopping is, we could deep dive into the concept of that methodology.
The Mystery Shopping concept is known by several names. Originally, this methodology was created as Mystery Shopper and was disseminated in American retail companies in the 1940s. From the moment these techniques began to be implemented, terms such as Mystery Client, Secret Client and Mystery Buyer also appeared as synonyms.
Originally, Mystery Shopping had the primary purpose of directly analyzing consumers. Today, the Mystery Shopping methodology can be used at various levels in the Customer Experience formation process. In other words, Mystery Shopping can serve as an audit for such processes, as well as as a strategic tool for your company to obtain valuable data and insights.
Mystery Shopping allows a detailed evaluation of your customers' shopping experience. One could evaluate, for example, if the standards created by you are being followed in all stores or points of contact; if service is friendly and warm; if the product is according to the brand’s quality standards; if the facilities are properly clean, tidy and air-conditioned... Therefore, Mystery Shopping allows for the identification of the points to be improved throughout the customer journey, so that your company offers more quality and generates increasingly satisfied customers.
How does Mystery Shopping work?
Right, now you know what Mystery Shopping is for. Now it is time to understand how it works in practice. Check it out:
It all starts with the so-called Mystery Shoppers, i.e., the people selected to conduct the evaluations. And for the tool to work efficiently, qualification is required.
Although there are several types and applications of the methodology (as seen below), mystery shoppers are ordinary consumers. That's right! They are people of various types, ages, occupations and regions signing up in our database. Through our selection, training and certification processes, we prepare these candidates to conduct accurate, detail-rich evaluations of their experience.
After selecting, training and certifying Mystery Shoppers with the ideal profile for the company that will be evaluated, they are given a script and a form with the points that should be evaluated. Evaluations range from analyzing the cleanliness, tidiness and air conditioning of the environment to estimating how friendly and warm the service is, as well as waiting time and product or service quality, among other criteria. Remember that the evaluations are usually customized to the interests of the company using the Mystery Shopping tool.An evaluation may include, for example, records in photo, audio, or video formats, as required.
With the script in hand, the Mystery Shoppers go to the store (or contacts it in the requested way) as an ordinary customer. The target here is to experience the shopping journey without a differentiated treatment because of his or her role as an evaluator.
After the evaluations, the Mystery Shopper would fill out the form on our system, which will be translated into a report and forwarded to the project manager who had requested the evaluations.
The Benefits of Mystery Shopping
Mystery Shopping evaluations enable companies to optimize their processes and strategies, obtain new insights, and improve service and product quality. The main goal is to strengthen the brand image, increase its customer base, and leverage its revenue results.
Mystery Shopping enables companies to:
Perform better in their processes and improve in their areas of operation.
- Be more critical and assertive when making decisions
- Be more organized and more agile when mapping contact points throughout their customer journey.
- Be more aligned with delivering the brand promise and the messages of its campaigns.
- Get closer to vital frontline areas, such as customer and other services.
- Be more unified and coherent across all their service channels.
- Be standardized according to the official bodies and industry regulations (compliance).
In addition, Mystery Shopping services remain extremely effective in its evaluation focus: customer experience. Knowing how the perception of your audience is being formed is a great advantage. Therefore, you can strengthen interactions and apply all this market intelligence to improve service and sales and increase the return on your investment.
Mystery Shopping Types
Mystery Shopping, as well as the industries that benefit from this strategy, has evolved significantly since this methodology appeared for the first time. Different branches and stores have then started to apply this methodology to various purposes.
With that in mind, the tool needed some expansion so that it could meet the different analysis and monitoring needs demanded by the market.
Check out some of the different Mystery Shopping types:
Face-to-face evaluation of the store: this is the classic Mystery Shopping service approach. A Mystery Shopper visits a store and, based on a plan, evaluates the store service. For example, a Mystery Shopper can either visit a restaurant to evaluate how employee training has been implemented, or a store, to make sure that the salespeople are following the service roadmap.
Online channel evaluation: Online services can be evaluated by Mystery Shoppers. For example, an airline’s chat service can be duly checked to make sure that any inquiries are being solved, that such service is easily accessible, or that the website browsing and buying experience is easy and pleasant. A curious fact: oftentimes mystery shopping evaluations discover that a button, image or call on some particular screen is missing and that, for example, might be causing several customers to abandon the purchase.
Voice channel evaluation: call centers and companies that have customer service centers or telesales also need their customer and support services to be evaluated. In this type of Mystery Shopping, evaluations are performed by telephone, evidencing the state of the service and its impact when offering a product or service. In this type of Mystery Shopping, evaluations are performed by telephone, evidencing the state of the service and its impact when offering a product or service. This type of evaluation usually uses audio recordings whenever so requested by the company. As a result, the entire call is recorded and the audio file is sent as an attachment to the evaluation report.
Compliance Audit: For maintaining and constant monitoring standards and regulations. This is the most sought after type by companies that have great legal and regulatory responsibility, or are governed by specific laws in their industry. This type of evaluation helps these companies ensure safety and constitutionality in their procedures, avoiding penalties and sanctions for any non-compliance with the rules.
Competition Analysis: A company can also engage the tool to evaluate its competitors. The evaluation of the competition can also occur in parallel with a mystery shopping project in the company itself, for comparison purposes. This allows the development of strategies aimed at maintaining competitiveness. Here at OnYou, we only perform analysis of competitors that have not been our customers in the past 6 months.
Mystery Shopping evaluation with instant award: In this modality, Mystery Shopping promptly awards the employee of the engaging company who fulfills all previously determined procedures. Generally, this type of visit is focused on suggestive selling or cross-selling, and aims to increase the average ticket and revenue. Such visits are frequently complementary to employee training, motivation and encouragement strategies.
Filmed evaluation: These are evaluations in which Mystery Shoppers secretly film their visit and the footage is then edited and attached to the report that is sent to the contracting company. This type of evaluation is usually related to employee training programs and the shootings are used as a supporting training material.
Product evaluation at the point-of-sale: This type of evaluation is usually requested by companies that have a certain product being sold by several - usually retail - and not controlled by the brand, which enables the trade marketing team to evaluate whether the product is being properly displayed, demonstrated and delivered to the customer.
Mystery Shopping evaluation with special needs: This evaluation aims to assess the quality of the experience of customers with special needs, such as blind, deaf and wheelchair users, for example. The Mystery Shopper can evaluate whether the service is performed with some differentiation, if the respect, attention and preparation of the service team is meeting this customer’s expectations, among other details.
Revealed audit: These are evaluations in which the Auditor presents himself or herself as evaluator. The Auditor is accompanied by the person responsible for the store and has a checklist for checking internal processes and procedures, such as product storage and the shelf life of raw materials, for example.
What are the main reasons for companies to invest in Mystery Shopping?
Performing a Mystery Shopping project is an important step for the company to achieve its objectives assertively, improve customer experience, audit its processes, and get insights for its business. But that is not all! There are other reasons for implementing this methodology. Learn some of them below:
Branding – or brand management – is nothing more than the set of strategies that work on brand perception. The public perception of the brand, as well as its reputation, is built on several factors. The Mystery Shopping methodology ensures that the brand can have more confidence between what is promised in its communication and what is being delivered to customers. This allows for constant maintenance in the company's image and reputation. Even the branding strategy can benefit from the insights generated by Mystery Shopping.
Curious fact: did you know that the volume of data generated in recent years alone is greater than the amount of data produced in the entire history of mankind? Therefore, the production of data for any company can be immense!
Regardless of scope, access to complex data analytics technologies (big data) has transformed everything forever. However, there is no point in using systems and technologies capable of generating and controlling metrics, without a smart analysis of this information. We need methodologies, such as Mystery Shopping, to implement and validate big data-based strategies.
Metrics control is not limited to automation and systematic organization. Implementing a Mystery Shopping project allows for a better alignment of metrics and objectives, so that you can refine the processes involved.
Employee Incentive Programs
Mystery Shopping services can be extended beyond customer experience evaluations. Employees who comply with all procedures, for example, can be awarded for their positive performance, encouraging them to continue doing a good job.
Training and sales strategies can also benefit from the information collected through Mystery Shopping.
Increasing the average ticket
In many situations, companies end up facing a barrier in their marketing and sales campaigns. Although increasing the average ticket is a common goal (especially in retail), it might not always be efficiently followed up.
Mystery Shopping allows the implementation or maintenance of strategies focused on service and sales processes. As a result, the company now has increasingly satisfied customers and increasingly efficient salespeople. This increases the likelihood that your sellers will capture new customers, make additional or complementary sales, and your current customers can buy more often. The results observed should positively impact the company's revenue, customer acquisition cost and average ticket.
Key metrics and indicators evaluated in Mystery Shopping
As you may have already observed, there are several challenges in a company’s routine and the time taken to organize information, metrics, indicators and overcome these challenges is little. Several processes occur simultaneously in the company and when this volume of data and the metrics provided by the managers of each area or store is to be analyzed, it requires a format that gathers all this data and metrics accurately and uncomplicatedly.
So, the process of interpreting data and presenting a concrete general situation based on data collection is still a problem for several companies. According to a survey, only 27% of professionals who work directly with data believe they are having access to all the metrics needed for their business.
To change this framework and in order for the Customer Experience strategy to be successful, we must have a robust metric and indicator basis that is easily accessible and understood. It is important to note, however, that a complete, end-to-end analysis makes metrics and indicators stand out.
And one of the ways to get this data and metrics in a centralized, accurate, and uncomplicated way is by using the reports generated by Mystery Shopping.
The key metrics and indicators evaluated by The Mystery Shopping include:
Customer satisfaction: The source of this metric may vary depending on the business in question. With Mystery Shopping, you have an effective way of monitoring and following up interactions. Therefore, your customer's satisfaction will always be led by the correct indicators.
Average service time: The process of physical interaction between customer and company is strongly impacted by the time expected to get a service or make a purchase. It is also important to know which service processes are typically more agile or more complex in your business.
Average contacts required: How many contacts or interactions do customers need to make until their issue is resolved? How many employees interact with a customer in this situation?
How to develop a customer experience strategy through Mystery Shopping?
To understand the Customer Experience, it is important to understand the change in the flow of communication between the company and the customers. Because interactions occur and gain prominence in both ways, they end up creating a distinct scenario. Therefore, it is necessary that customer experience is aligned with this new reality and the scope of your business.
Mystery Shopping, in a Customer Experience strategy, offers the way to your first steps. The use of this methodology allows an audit of what actually occurs at the point of sale and other points of contact that customers have with the brand.
Therefore, the benefit in the Customer Experience strategy is obtained at all points. Mystery Shopping is based on facts. This transforms an administration-focused management into customer satisfaction ensuring management.
4 Mystery Shopping Benefits for Satisfaction Survey
So far, you have learned about several benefits of Mystery Shopping. But the advantages go further beyond that!
Several companies, especially retail companies, use Satisfaction Surveys to measure certain points of their service. However, although Satisfaction Surveys are useful tools, they can invariably offer a more limited view of what actually occurs in processes. After all, they are a form that just offers companies a perception of the percentage of the loyal enough public to respond to the items of the survey, which can be answered partially or even inaccurately, depending on factors such as the customers’ mood at the time of their participation. Also, it is known that focusing on a part instead of the whole usually leads to error. In data and metrics, common sense does not differ much. The Mystery Shopping methodology offers advantages for Satisfaction Surveys in several aspects. Check out some of the main advantages:
Better data processing: In isolation, the data provided by satisfaction surveys rely on context. Mystery Shopping offers complementary information and new insights, which are indispensable factors in the data analysis, crossing and processing stage.
Service optimization: Aligning service processes to the company’s quality standards are actions that need reliable data to be successfully implemented. Similarly, the decision-making required to expand or reduce care processes should be well directed.
Greater perspective: Mystery Shopping methodology provides broader and more accurate information about the process. Such access allows even companies without a process evaluation structure to have a greater perspective on the business, its standards and procedures.
Better customer experience: Evaluation tools go through a journey of data collection and analysis to finally move on to the implementation of actions. Because Mystery Shopping focuses directly on interaction points, it allows for a much more agile journey. That is, a Mystery Shopping project makes Satisfaction Surveys to have a quick impact.
What to consider when engaging Mystery Shopping services
At this point, you may be persuaded about the benefits of Mystery Shopping to your business and be thinking about using this solution. However, before taking any action, check out these tips:
When hiring a Mystery Shopping service, you take a great responsibility. Care is needed for investments to have the return and for the strategy to bring the expected results. Check the experience, portfolio and reliability of the selected company.
In addition, the way the analysis is performed by the company should also be a criterion for engaging it. The success of the evaluation depends on the correct approach to the data and information generated.
It is also necessary to ensure a good process of recruitment and selection of mystery shoppers. Companies that invest in training, qualification and certification, for example, offer greater security for your investment, so that the results are accurate and impartial, according to their objectives.
OnYou has a varied and qualified bank of mystery shoppers. This allows for greater customization during your processes. Still, it is a job that requires discretion and the appropriate profile. The expected audience at a weekend dealership differs from that of a snack bar at lunchtime, for example. It is necessary that the company you select is aware of this, know your struggles, your market and the profile of your customers, to offer a Mystery Shopper according to your needs.
Want to know more about this service?
Contact an OnYou consultant.