Mystery Shopping: How to Avoid A Catastrophe

Market Alert Limited, Mystery Shopping, How to Avoid a CatastropheIs 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 8 hours sleep and wake up refreshed, below are 10 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. So 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’d use 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 ensure accuracy. For example, how do they flag/resolve those surveys that contain inconsistencies or have gaps?

 

3. BUDGET FOR CONTINGENCY SHOPS

Some mystery shopping surveys will not be usable and require a new shop. For example, a shopper met with a real estate rep when they were supposed to meet with a mortgage broker.  Or the shopper responses are vague and exceedingly brief. Also, there is the case of a shopper reporting a serious breach in the rep’s professionalism. You’d need to re-shop the rep to ensure this is so. 

 

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 allows you to clarify what took place in the shop.

 

5. ASK FOR THE SHOPPER PROFILES

It’s smart business to ask for a list of the shoppers according to age, occupation and product knowledge. Otherwise, what if a shopper does not fit your customer’s profile? This shopper will need to be replaced.

 

6. SET SAMPLE SIZE AT 10%

Unless all your outlets/reps have to be shopped, 10% sample is sufficient. More than 10% increases the chances of incomplete, conflicting  or made up mystery shopping surveys.

 

7. MAKE QUESTIONS PRECISE

Ambiguous mystery shopping questions will lead to ambiguous answers. Therefore, ensure your supplier works with you in developing 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/suggestions before the shop 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 will review them with you by phone if you need so.

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

Comments are closed.