Mystery shopping is actually a marketing strategy that is used by companies to collect specific information that can measure the quality of their product or service. Though the term is a bit mysterious, it is not new. It was being done way back 1940’s as a means to gauge the integrity of the employees then.
The person doing the mystery shopping is called a mystery consumer or mystery shopper. They are also being hired and paid to do this act. Their basic duty is to act as normal customers that ask questions, purchase a product, list their complaints and make a detailed report on their purchase experience.
Most of the common venues where this shopping is undertaken are movie theaters, fast food chains, car dealerships, health clubs, restaurants, apartments, banks, gas stations, etc. Other countries, like United Kingdom hire mystery shoppers to know the customer’s feedback on the services given by non-profit organizations such as churches and housing associations and the local authorities as well.
Mystery shoppers carry various tools in doing his job, from a simple questionnaire to more sophisticated video and audio recordings. The questionnaire mostly contains queries such as how long it takes for the employees to greet, is the greeting friendly, are employees well aware of the products and services they offer, whether the store and store associates are clean and a whole lot more. Videos and audio equipment on the other hand are carefully hidden so as not to distract other customers and give employees doubt that they are being observed.
After the encounter, the mystery shopper submits the collected data to the mystery shopping company. The data collected will then be analyzed and reviewed quantitatively and qualitatively through statistical method. Reports are returned to the client company which in turn compares the results to their pre-set criteria.
Mystery shopping is a very straightforward means to evaluate companies. This gives companies a quick yet efficient way to assess their employees, practices and deliverables from a non-biased shopper. A less expensive marketing tool, we can expect that many companies will be adapting mystery shopping and acknowledge the usefulness of this method.