Mystery shopping is a funny sort of thing. You know it’s going to happen, but you don’t know when. You know to expect a visit from somebody important, but you’ve got no idea how to identify that person when they arrive. It’s a game of many rules and these rules have to be adhered to if the system is going to be effective. After all, what good can come of a mystery shopping system that’s completely transparent?
It’s the ‘mystery’ part that makes the system work. If you’ve got questions about the way your business runs, you can always ask staff members for an answer. Yet, that doesn’t mean that you’ll get the information that you want or need, says Telegraph journalist Christopher Middleton. Human beings are fickle things and they often find it difficult to separate what they really think, from what they believe they should think.
According to the experts at UK IMS, a mystery shopper can bypass all of these problems and get straight to the root of an issue. Mystery shoppers are able to deliver completely honest and objective assessments of your business, precisely because you don’t know that they’re there. If your customer service leaves a lot to be desired, a mystery shopper will almost immediately find out.
The question is – can you spot a mystery shopper? Are there any situations in which being able to identify a mystery shopper could be a useful thing? Well, the answer to that question is a rather complicated one. Generally speaking, being able to spot a mystery shopper in your store is a bad thing, say the experts at MeasureCP.com. If you know that they’re there – chances are, your staff members will be able to spot them too.
If your staff members become aware that they’re serving somebody who is there to assess their performance, they will not perform honestly. This will result in the entire exercise being mostly futile – you will not get any useful feedback if a mystery shopper cannot get an accurate view of your business. Mystery shopping companies like UK IMS and Market Force are designed to operate completely under the radar.
However, that does not mean that you shouldn’t look for a mystery shopper if you know that one is due to visit your store. Being able to spot an ‘undercover’ consumer can mean the difference between an honest assessment and one that is biased. It’s also a good indication that mystery shopper isn’t very good at their job. You might ask the company who arranged the visit for another, more successful one.
A poorly trained mystery shopper won’t act like a regular consumer, say the experts at EHow.com. They’ll jump straight to the series of assignments that they have been given without taking the time to familiarize themselves with the environment first. Be on the look out for requests that sound strangely rehearsed. For example, a mystery shopper might be tasked with visiting a shoe shop. His or her job is likely to involve asking a sales assistant for help finding a pair of trainers or high heels.
Now, this request would sound very strange and be very hard to respond to if it were phrased in exactly that manner. You can’t just ask for help finding a pair of shoes. It’s too vague a request – you have to add a context and some personal details, too. A good personal shopper will make up a plausible scenario. They might talk about needing some new shoes for a wedding or a party. They’ll invent an outfit that these shoes have to match, so that a sales assistant can demonstrate their worth by finding a pair that fits the bill.