Conducting an evaluation of business services and operations is highly important. Through this evaluation, the service quality of products in consumers’ eyes will become apparent. A method to try in acquiring optimal results is mystery shopper.
Mystery Shopper is a technique to measure the quality of customer service or to collect specific information regarding a product or service. As the name suggests, this method is conducted in secrecy, without the knowledge of the party being evaluated. To achieve this, an institution can hire outside parties and use their services as mystery shoppers. Acting as consumers, they will be asked to experience the quality of certain products or services for themselves.
Also commonly known as Secret Shopper, this technique is a type of qualitative study. Mystery shoppers will gather information regarding their experience as a shopper in doing transactions for a product or service. As such, data relating to internal conditions of the institution, such as revenue and profit, cannot be gathered by the mystery shopper.
Conducting Mystery Shopper
As the figures in charge, firstly mystery shoppers need to coordinate with the party doing the evaluation. From the outset, they are required to understand which aspects are in need of observation. Hence, details of information that are expected as results have to be briefed clearly.
Designing a scenario will aid in execution. Mystery shoppers will act as common customers. Then they will inspect the standard operating procedure (SOP); are all SOPs implemented and executed correctly?
For this goal, mystery shoppers have to possess careful and elaborate observation. They also need to make documentations as evidence. This can be done by writing down notes or utilizing recording devices, such as a hidden video or audio recorder. This is crucial to serve as evaluation material of a product or service.
Furthermore, to achieve objective results, evaluations of various different locations can be done. Take an example of a company that has five stores. The mystery shoppers can be assigned to all five stores to observe the customer service performance towards consumers in real conditions of the field. They can also be requested to visit competitor stores to supply services comparison.
Benefits of Mystery Shopper
Mystery shopper can be a very effective method to evaluate services. Compared to other methods of evaluation, there are specific benefits to be gained from this technique.
Obtaining objective evaluation results
Mystery shoppers’ positioning as an outside evaluating party will support objectivity. The party being evaluated will not know that they are undergoing a performance review. Hence, they will display their actual performance standards.
Gaining insight from professionals
Many mystery shoppers are professionals in their field. They know precisely how to evaluate services according to SOP, or to learn consumers’ market demographics of a product or service. As such, their findings are professional insights that will be valuable to a company.
Identifying high-achieving/high-performing employees
Mystery shoppers are very useful in identifying highly performing employees. Acting as customers, mystery shoppers can experience first-hand the employees’ services. The mystery shopper will also have exact knowledge of which employees or which stores are operating SOP optimally, or which are providing satisfying services.
Observing market reactions
Mystery shoppers can help to observe market reactions towards a certain product or service. They can investigate customer enthusiasm towards products or services. This is very beneficial when aiming to learn about a newly launched product or service and its impact. Mystery shoppers can provide information on how consumers react towards the product or service.
Mystery shopper can be utilized as an alternative method in evaluating products or services. Insight from outside parties and the objectivity of their evaluation results can be valuable material for companies to constantly improve and grow.