There is an assumption that mystery shopping is for retail and hospitality businesses only. While it is true that shops, banks, hotels, service stations, restaurants and more are well suited to mystery shopping, it doesn’t stop there.

Mystery shopping is a widely used technique to observe, identify, and collect information on a business without employees’ knowledge. A common misconception is that mystery shopping only occurs in the retail and hospitality industries. In these instances, trained mystery evaluators/shoppers enter a business, observe, interact with employees, and record their experience at various touch points throughout the customer journey — all to determine the quality of their experience. However, increased business standards prompted mystery shopping to expand far beyond the boundaries of front-of-house customer service.

How Mystery Visits Work

When you think of Mystery Shopping, most think of a paid consumer who is hired to shop in stores and collect data; Often categorized as as “undercover customers” sent in to observe, interact, and report on other customers and store employees. Today however, Mystery Shopping isn’t just for in-store observing.  So as well as retail & hospitality, regular mystery shopping with BARE International is equally valuable for:

  • Professional services firms dealing with the public such as accountants, lawyers, financial advisors, designers and architects.
  • Trade and household services including real estate, contractors and automotive.
  • Technical services including gaming and IT specialists.
  • Public services including education, healthcare and housing.

Mystery Shopping Methods

There are a variety of ways to conduct a full-spectrum research program of your business… Using calls, clicks or visits, mystery customer research can be executed in four key ways:

1. In Person

Evaluators visit your location in person and perform a visit following a previously defined scenario. The mystery evaluator will record their experience at various touch points throughout the customer journey and report their experience using our live dashboard technology. Insights may include:

  • location cleanliness
  • employee professionalism
  • pricing audit
  • safety audit
  • experience consistency
  • marketing and branding
  • competitor analysis
  • inventory audit

2. Via Phone

An Evaluator will record their experience at various touch points throughout the phone discussion. These calls can be made to individual locations or to your Customer Support Center. Calls can be recorded for a true share of the experience which may include insights around:

  • timeliness
  • friendliness
  • enthusiasm
  • brand awareness
  • information relevance
  • script compliance

3. Website Chat/Inquiry

Evaluators provide information on every aspect of the customer interaction with your business via your website, online chat feature, and/or mobile app. Insights may include:

  • ease of navigation
  • technical operations
  • purchase process efficiency
  • employee-customer relations

4. Voice of Customer Video

Video provides 6x more context versus just text alone!

Gain authentic insights from real people and around the feedback and experience of your customer base. Videos can be created immediately following a mystery visit or mobile/geo survey for a voice of customer video. Videos can also be recorded during certain points of the customer journey and uploaded for viewing to provide in-person insights of the experience.

Mystery Customer Research with BARE International

Whether you call them customers, guests, patients, patrons, riders, fans or clients, BARE International can create a program to measure their experience interacting with your brand. And because your challenges are unique, our services can be customized to create just the right research program to address your needs.

To drive meaningful change in your business, you need to capture opportunities to engage your customers, find pinpoints and identify real issues and provide actionable answers. In order to do this, you should be leveraging customer experience research beyond mystery shopping alone. As well as mystery visits, a thorough customer experience research program should also include:

  • Omnichannel Research: You probably have a website, Facebook, Twitter, maybe even an app. Your teams have training opportunities invested to ‘match’ the messaging your platforms are marketing. All of these tools, from your online branding to your employee’s training, are used to engage and connect with your customers in hopes to provide a seamless customer experience for your customers.
  • Customer surveys: Surveying remains one of the top methods of data collection. Depending on your needs, there are several solutions that result in the actionable insights you need to make immediate decisions.
  • Quality Assurance & Brand Audits: Your company spends a big chunk of the budget on promotions and pricing strategies. Are you monitoring them to make sure they are being executed correctly? Audits can be executed covertly without your staff being aware that the audit is taking place, or as an in-depth announced audit. Discover if your desired brand image is being represented the way you envisioned or evaluate your employees to improve training and reward top performers.

Final Thoughts

The advantage of providing a seamless customer experience has never been more important. If your business is dependent on sales (either products or services), then those sales are dependent on the customer’s satisfaction, and their loyalty.

To really see your business through your customers’ eyes, you need a multi-dimensional research plan that covers every aspect of your company’s operations. So, contact the customer experience research experts at BARE International today and receive a complimentary evaluation of your business.