The Value of Legitimate Secret Shoppers to Retail Companies
How Mystery Shopping Reveals The Insights Every Retail Company Needs To Know
The retail secret shopper (aka mystery shopper) is an effective way to identify what lies behind the big successes, operational missteps and sales challenges of any retail business. Most critically, a good mystery shopping solution reveals insights into customer behavior, and how well those highly trained salespeople you’ve invested in are doing their jobs.
Today’s highly competitive marketplace gives people more ways to shop and spend their money than ever before – so any advantage a retailer can get to know its customers better and check up on operations is money well spent.
Mystery Shopping Methodologies
There are two primary ways legitimate mystery shopping companies can help your company. One is by sending secret shoppers directly into your store and using them to engage customer service and sales representatives. The other is by engaging your people over the phone. Both pay big dividends in different ways.
In-Store Mystery Shopping
Sending a well-trained mystery shopper into a store is usually done to find out what’s wrong with the shopping experience. However, the truth is, mystery shopping is just as likely to check a few boxes on what’s being done right in your stores. Here are a few tips to a good mystery shopping visit.
- Make sure the visit is well planned – a legitimate mystery shopper will know exactly what products to purchase, what people and service desks to approach, what questions to ask, how much time they should spend engaging store personnel, and every other detail of the visit. Remember, this is a covert mission to collect information about your company. It’s an investment in time and money, and if it’s going to pay off it has to be done right. So, plan it.
- Make sure your shoppers can follow directions – mystery shopping is a calculated study and it requires people you can trust to come off as legitimate shoppers. If they act overzealous, they risk blowing their cover. If they don’t follow your directions, you may end up with worthless information that never helps your company.
- Training goes a long way – While every mystery visit should be carefully planned, it’s impossible to account for every eventuality. That’s why shoppers must be trained in the art of conversation. They should know how to foster a good back and forth without directing the conversation to any specific end. If that happens, you haven’t uncovered anything, and have just tossed away your money.
- Check out the competition – Sending a shopper or two into your competition can help you better understand their strengths and weaknesses, so you can more effectively strategize around them.
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Mystery Shopping By Phone
When mystery shoppers call your stores or service desks, you tap into a whole new side of engagement. Every item on the check list above still applies, however, the insights gleaned are very different.
Are reps able to provide legitimate answers to questions? Are customers placed on hold for long periods? If reps are tasked with collecting information, such as email and phone numbers, are they doing it properly? Phone-in secret shopping will get you answers to these questions, so you can react appropriately.
Are you currently employing mystery shopping? Has it paid off in quality information? Could you use some expert help?
How To Begin A Legitimate Mystery Shopping Program
Most often, the best way to start is with a search. There are a lot of mystery shopping companies out there and it’s important to find one that’s a good fit for your organization. Just make sure it’s a reputable mystery shopping provider, like The Revenue Optimization Companies (T-ROC), that guarantees you’ll work with highly trained secret shoppers who know how to engage your sales staff in ways that get results.
If you’re interested, you can learn more about T-ROC, including their approach to mystery shopping at www.trocglobal.com.
Want To Be A Mystery Shopper?
Beware of Scam Artists!
Mystery shopping is a great way to make some extra money. But be careful because not all mystery shopping companies are legitimate. In fact, some are out to scam you. They may even ask you to pay an application fee by sending a check or money transfer. Never respond to these companies. Don’t fall for the scam. Here are a few tips to avoid the bad guys:
- Never answer email ads or help wanted ads asking for mystery shoppers
- Never pay money, send a check, or answer an email request for money
- Do an internet search for reviews about mystery shopping companies
- Search the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) website (mysteryshop.org) to find assignments and learn how to apply for them
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