In order to improve the efficacy of an organisation, it’s necessary to constantly identify areas with the potential for improvement, and then implement those improvements. When it comes to a retailer, perhaps the most important metric of all is the satisfaction of customers who walk through your doors (or click on your website). If the proportion of satisfied customers to unsatisfied one is healthy, then the business will likely thrive; if the proportion is unhealthy, however, then the business is likely to suffer.
Of course, it’s impossible to improve customer satisfaction if we can’t see where we’re going wrong. That’s why the modern successful retailer will devote particular resources to discovering what proportion of their customers are unhappy. One of the most important methods of obtaining this information is through the use of a mystery shopping agency.
A mystery shopper is a person who poses as a customer, and collects information on your stores. This provides retailers with the perspective of a real customer – and allows those troublesome weaknesses in the store’s front end to be identified and addressed. A quality field marketing company will allow the retailer to collaborate in devising the questionnaire to be filled in by the mystery shopper. This allows you to easily see the number of targets you’re hitting, and see whether you’re excelling in the respects you deem important.
What about other methods?
Of course, a mystery shopper report isn’t the only means we have of gauging the customer’s experience. A simple questionnaire will give us access to a greater breadth of opinion with far less cost – you might have hundreds of different people providing their perspective on your store. That said, a questionnaire of this sort comes with its own drawbacks.
Lack of focus
While a questionnaire might allow you customers to tell you about how well their experience went, they might not be able to provide you with specifics – and you’ll be unable to cross-examine them. Of course, we might get around this drawback to a certain extent by designing a questionnaire well.
By far the more significant drawback of a customer survey is the fact that not all of your customers will be equally inclined to fill out a survey. You’ll therefore be polling just a minority of your customers – specifically those who are inclined to fil out surveys. You might increase participation by paying your customers to fill out a survey, or by offering other incentives, but you’ll still have a problem of poor representation. If your sample is not reflective of your customers as a whole, then you’ll have poor quality information – which might lead to decisions which actually harm your customer experience, rather than improve it.
While these drawbacks are noteworthy, it’s still worth conducting surveys – as they’ll allow you to compare dips and rises in performance over time (provided that polls are conducted similarly). The weaknesses revealed by a poll might also inform the questions you devise for your mystery shopper questionnaire.
How does a mystery shopper help?
A mystery shopper might provide information of a sort that simply can’t be obtained through other means. Let’s consider some of the advantages of hiring one.
A mystery shopper questionnaire allows us to devise questions which address the precise criteria we’re looking to assess. So, if there’s a special need to focus on loyalty card uptake or store tidiness, we can adjust the questions we ask to reflect this.
A mystery shopper is someone who is outside of your organisation, and so they’ll be entirely free from the biases which might encumber someone on the inside. They’ll be able, therefore, to provide a valuable and disinterested perspective on the way your store is performing. If you’re a store manager or some other important decision-maker, you can be sure that your experience in your store will be different from the average experience – and so obtaining a perspective such as this might prove difficult without the help of a mystery shopper.
Mystery shopper reports can provide staff with a target to work towards. They’ll also be forced to treat each individual customers as though they’re a mystery shopper – which will be beneficial to the customer experience. That said, it’s worth taking care to avoid piling undue pressure onto frontline staff over mystery shopper reports – as the stress thereby produced might actually hinder the customer experience.
A mystery shopper report is a valuable tool which can ensure that we have the best possible quality of information about the customer experience; used in conjunction with other surveying techniques, we can get the most accurate possible picture of what our stores are like for the people who actually use them.