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Mystery Shopping: evolving effective strategy

mystery shopping programme consists of visits and or telephone calls to more or less any type of outlet, establishment or institution.

There are thousands of businesses across the UK, such as department stores, pubs, restaurants, beauty salons, motor dealerships, amusement parks and many others, who use mystery shopping to monitor levels of customer service. We use carefully selected mystery shoppers to visit or telephone your place of business and appear as normal customers to evaluate the quality of service.

We can reveal how fast "your" customers get served, how clean your store is, how friendly your employees are: whatever standards you set, we can measure your performance against them.

Mystery Shopping programmes are a good way to flag up areas where training could benefit employees. Our surveys are designed jointly, with you, exactly to fit your needs. We check to see that all staff follow your employee handbook. We use your input along with any employee training materials that your company uses.

The key is to make the shopper campaign reflect reality as closely as possible, because this elicits better responses and the resulting feedback is more valuable in real situations. It also removes the possibility of staff 'spotting' a mystery shop in progress. Therefore, the scenario is all-important, and should hinge upon the objectives of the programme.

Routine enquiries and purchases are clearly more straightforward both to set up and to measure, but by using variations it becomes less easy for operators to 'spot' a mystery shopper.

You might like to look through the following checklists. They may help focus your objectives. It will certainly help us to explain how we can help to do so.

Some Typical Mystery Shopping Scenarios:

  • Response to promotional campaigns
  • Preliminary enquiries for product prices and stock availability, or service costs and lead times
  • Checking the buying or ordering processes
  • Making appointments for services
  • Checking the provision of information and complaint-handling by Customer Services and other customer facing staff

Setting Up Mystery Shops

Once you decide to proceed with a mystery shopping programme, a basis for assessment will be need to be established. This is used to create the framework for an ‘evaluation sheet’ for each mystery shop call or visit to be made.

These evaluation sheets can be stand-alone or can subsequently be used to generate tailor-made analytical and/or narrative reports with league tables and graphical reporting. In either case, they are prepared to help you achieve the desired objectives of the mystery shop initiative.

If outlet staff members are mystery shopped on a regular basis, this provides a means of monitoring, measuring, analysing and possibly even incentivising staff improvements in their call handling/sales technique over time.

Constructive suggestions and recommendations can be dovetailed into the reports if desired. Initially, can be best to keep the calls or visits relatively straightforward, for both political and practical reasons.

This also gives you a chance to gauge employee effectiveness in terms of improved performance, not only in the mystery shop scores, but of course ultimately in improved sales levels. The bottom line ensures that your marketing expenditure is controlled from the outset.

Ask us for a quotation, or just call us for an informal chat: we think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

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