A mystery shopper is a research tool used by research companies for its clients, or internally by companies themselves to measure and audit the levels of customer service. The identity of the mystery shopper is not known to the organisation being evaluated. Mystery shoppers cannot be easily identified, and they may seem to be a normal shopper.
Mystery shoppers generally buy a particular product, or register a complaint, or unassumingly interact with the customer service team, and they provide feedback later about their experience. Mystery shopper is a method of evaluation used by many organizations, especially retail chains, and FMCG companies.
The observations of a mystery shopper typically include:
- Number of employees in a store upon entering
- Time taken for the shopper to be greeted
- Whether the staff are friendly(measured by the tone, smile, and other factors)
- Name of the employee(s)
- Questions asked by the shopper
- Type of products shown
- Care in explaining/erasing doubts
- Effort in closing the sale
- Suggested add on sale
- Compliance issues like store appearance, cleanliness, employee grooming etc.
- Speed of service
- Speed of Billing (at cash tills)
Mystery shoppers are given instructions to enquire about a certain product and buy it, to test the product knowledge of the employees. However not all mystery shopping scenarios result in a purchase. To gather data, mystery shoppers blend in with regular shoppers, return products if need be. Some mystery shoppers may take photographs and use a stopwatch to monitor time. But all these are camouflaged as normal acts by a normal shopper.
Mystery shopper is a very important tool which most companies use to ascertain the level of compliance and take necessary action if need be.