When properly executed, mystery shopping programs enable businesses to objectively measure the execution of their brand promises and customer experience initiatives. Professional mystery shoppers provide eyewitness reports on physical environments, employee interactions, sales transactions, quality of services offered, and more.
Depending on your business size or budget for conducting mystery shopping, you might consider executing a mystery shopping program internally. And, if you find yourself leaning this way, we have resources such as tips & best practices and steps we follow to help you do so. But here we’ll explore a few of the benefits that come from working with a professional mystery shopping provider.
- Reliable Mystery Shoppers
- Integrated and Evolving Technology
- Professional Program Management
1. Reliable Mystery Shoppers
Mystery shoppers are the boots on the ground who will be collecting the firsthand data that drives your mystery shopping program. This makes the professionalism and reliability of these individuals paramount to the success of your program and a major benefit of working with a professional mystery shopping provider.
There’s no shortage of job boards where you can recruit mystery shoppers, however, until you’ve worked with a shopper it’s difficult to predict the quality of their work.
Imagine you’ve hired a new contractor, sent them on an assignment and the questionnaire they’ve completed is full of broken grammar or long-winded answers with irrelevant information. Not only have you wasted time reviewing poor quality data but now you have to recruit a new shopper and send them back into the field – costing you additional time and delaying your program results.
To avoid this, some brands use internal team members as mystery shoppers. However, this practice raises other problems around anonymity and potential bias. Cameron Watt, President and CEO of Intouch Insight, said in an Ask Me Anything session, “Operators are smart. As soon as anybody gets a whiff of internal mystery shoppers, everybody immediately knows all about them through the back channels.”
Lisa van Kesteren, Chief Experience Officer at Intouch Insight, added, “Even if there is no bias, the perception that there could be is an issue.” This is because it gives operators who don’t like the results a basis on which to challenge them.
Mystery shopping providers have operations teams dedicated to recruiting, screening, and assigning mystery shoppers. Their experience as well as the sheer volume of work conducted by these teams has helped them to develop a stable database of reliable shoppers with proven track records.
This means that by working with a professional mystery shopping provider you can rely on anonymously collected and unquestionably objective data delivered to you in a timely manner.
2. Integrated and Evolving Technology
Technology is an integral part of today’s businesses, and your mystery shopping program should be no exception. Modern mystery shopping providers will bring leading technology developed specifically for programs like yours which is a massive benefit – helping you work smarter rather than harder.
Mystery shopping providers will give you access to a suite of analytics tools so you can avoid the analysis paralysis that can result from masses of disconnected data. Whether you’re looking to compare one location’s performance to your company average or track a key metric across a specific time domain, technology developed by a mystery shopping provider for mystery shopping programs will give you an edge on your competitors.
Especially if this technology was developed by the mystery shopping provider, it will continue to evolve based on all the programs managed by the provider. As other brands find new use cases or potential improvements, the technology will continue to be updated. The result is you will benefit from the learnings across countless other brands and industries.
3. Professional Program Management
There’s a lot more to an effective mystery shopping program than simply sending mystery shoppers into the field. The recruitment of reliable shoppers, which we discussed some challenges around above, is a full-time job on its own and is just the tip of the iceberg. That’s why the experienced team provided by a professional mystery shopping provider is a huge benefit to any program.
Consider the questionnaire that shoppers will fill out for each of their visits. Translating the metrics you want to track into concise questions takes more finesse than you might think. For example, if you’re measuring the way in which customers are greeted you might consider asking “was the cashier polite?” But ‘polite’ can mean different things to different people. The experience gained across countless programs means a mystery shopping provider is uniquely suited to help you distill your targeted metrics into a more objective question such as ‘were you thanked for your purchase?’
The best mystery shopping providers take a white glove approach to their partnerships and operate as an extension of your in-house team. They’ll apply decades of experience to help match your goals and budget with the most impactful program possible, develop questionnaires to get to the core of the metrics you need to measure, and design technology enabled reporting and automation that make it easier to derive and act on meaningful insights all while doing the leg work to recruit and field reliable mystery shoppers.
Want to know more about how a professional mystery shopping provider can help with your specific needs? Contact us today!