”/> For over 30 years we have been defining, providing and teaching competitive intelligence, mystery shopping and investigative market research.”/> Mystery Shopping: How to Avoid A Catastrophe – Market Alert Limited
 

Mystery Shopping: How to Avoid A Catastrophe

Market Alert Limited, Mystery Shopping, How to Avoid a Catastrophe

Is your Mystery Shopping program keeping you up at night? Do you need to stave off a Mystery Shop Catastrophe?

We’re not talking about fixable mistakes or miscalculations but a real foul-up in your study that cannot be undone.

To get that perfect amount of sleep and wake up refreshed, below are 10 mystery shopping guidelines to follow;

 

MYSTERY SHOPPING GUIDELINES

 

1. SCREEN THE POTENTIAL SUPPLIER RIGOROUSLY

Give the same due diligence to hiring your mystery shopping supplier as you do for an accountant or financial planner. Reach out and speak to (not email) clients of the supplier to find out the nature of the shops the supplier provided, where they fell short and whether they would hire the supplier again. Also, speak with the key members of the supplier’s team (e.g. project manager) to gauge their knowledge and expertise. Don’t hesitate to ask tough questions.

2. ASK HOW THE SUPPLIER ENSURES ACCURACY

Make sure your Mystery Shopping Request for Proposal asks how the supplier ensures accuracy. For example, how do they flag and resolve surveys that contain inconsistencies or gaps?

3. BUDGET FOR CONTINGENCY SHOPS

Some mystery shopping surveys that you receive completed will not be usable and would require a new shop. For example;

  • a shopper met with a real estate rep when they were supposed to meet with a mortgage broker,
  • the shopper responses are vague and exceedingly brief, or
  • a shopper reporting a serious breach in the rep’s professionalism. You would need to send a new shopper to the same rep to ensure this is indeed the case. 

4. SHOPPERS NEED TO MEET STANDARDS

Have the mystery shopping supplier provide you with their standards for shopper conduct and reporting. Also, have the option to communicate directly with shoppers after you have read the report. This would allow you to clarify what took place during the shop.

5. ASK FOR THE SHOPPER PROFILES

It’s smart business to ask for a list of shoppers according to age, occupation and product knowledge. Otherwise, what if a shopper does not fit your customer’s profile? Such a shopper would need to be replaced with a more fitting and unsuspecting profile.

6. SET SAMPLE SIZE AT 10%

Unless all your outlets/reps need to be shopped, a 10% sample is usually sufficient. More than 10% of your sample can increase the chances of incomplete, conflicting or made-up mystery shopping surveys. 

7. QUESTIONS NEED TO BE PRECISE AND OPEN-ENDED

Ambiguous mystery shopping questions will lead to ambiguous answers. Therefore, ensure your supplier works with you to develop the survey questions and avoids “market research-type” questions yielding answers such as “somewhat likely, very likely.”

8. ALL STAKEHOLDERS NEED TO AGREE

First of all, if you are the end-user of the mystery shopping research, this is a simple process.  In addition, there may be multiple departments with an interest in the research (e.g., sales, marketing, product development, etc.). Hence, the lead person needs to ensure all parties are fully engaged and sign-off. Address their concerns and suggestions before the mystery shopping process begins. This will keep everyone’s blood pressure down and help for a good night’s sleep.

9. ADD QUESTIONS

You may discover, after getting some initial results, that you missed an important question. Direct your supplier to add this new question to the balance of the shops.

10. KEEP UPDATED

Finally, get at least 2 interim reports summarizing findings to date before the final report. And make sure the supplier is willing to review them with you by phone if required.

If you follow these best practices, you won’t have to worry about mystery shopping nightmares or catastrophes! 

If you are considering setting up a mystery shopping program or have one that is ongoing that might need help to get it back on track, contact Market Alert Ltd.

One Response so far.

  1. […] If you are planning to gather competitive intelligence via a mystery shopping program during the COVID-19 pandemic, we recommend that you read this article first to avoid preventable mistakes and unnecessary headaches; Mystery Shopping: How to Avoid a Catastrophe. […]