Any business looking stay relevant an increasingly competitive world must understand more about their target customers. They must also know their competitors and make sure they are complying with mandatory regulations. Understanding these issues can help to make sure a business is on the right track.
While there are many marketing research methods to look into customers, competition, and meeting regulations, mystery shopping is the most common way. But what is mystery shopping, and how does it help a business?
What is Mystery Shopping?
Mystery shopping is a market research method that helps businesses understand their customers or ensure employees adhere to compliance regulations. Mystery shoppers are hired to go to a business and act as a regular customer. Usually, they are supposed to do or look for specific things and then give feedback on their experiences. It isn’t a one-size-fits-all experience; rather, every mystery shopping program is tailor-made to match the client’s expectations and industry requirements. For example, an automotive mystery shopping program would include dealership monitoring, compliance measurements, test drive management, etc.
The mystery shopping program is usually designed from scratch to capture qualitative and quantitative data in real-time and include the right open-ended questions that facilitate better assessment that meets the specific business’s needs.
Understanding the Mystery Shopping Process
The secret shopper hired for the campaign is given a comprehensive briefing about the assignment, including what to do, the questions to ask, and aspects that need particular attention. They are also given instructions about hiding their true identity and behaving as a normal customer would. Employees are generally informed in advance about a probable mystery shopper visiting them, which can sometimes skew the results.
How Does Mystery Shopping Help a Business?
Mystery shopping offers an unbiased review of a product or service, allowing the business to identify competency gaps, measure service quality, and improve the shopping experience. Some of the areas where mystery shopping helps can include:
1. Evaluating SOP Adherence:
Businesses have to meet various mandatory regulations throughout their sale process, including making mandatory disclosures, refusing to sell to minors, etc. For example, underage children may not be sold tickets for an adult movie at a movie theater. Financial instruments may not be sold without complete disclosure of the risks involved. A mystery shopper can help to test that these regulations are being followed because failing to meet these regulations could land the business in serious trouble.
2. Preparing for the Road Ahead:
For businesses to survive, they need to recognize emerging trends. They also need to look for ways to cut costs and new skills that must be mastered within their field. A mystery shopper can help a business discovers ways of doing all these things.
3. Staying Ahead of Competition:
Mystery shoppers can size up competitors by visiting their stores and looking for new products, campaigns, and other deals that are causing competitors to be a step ahead of another business.