What is Mystery Shopping and How is it Beneficial?


By Tracie Johnson,

One of the best ways to understand how your business works is by getting a firsthand experience of the entire process. The best way to get this experience is through meaningful observations, and customer and employee feedback. Some business owners will even go the extra mile and hire professionals to take unbiased observations and provide accurate feedback.

Mystery Shopping

You might have heard of the statement, but what is mystery shopping? According to Intouch Insight, mystery shopping is when an undercover professional acts as a customer to assess the overall customer experience. Here are some benefits of mystery shopping:

1. Provides Legit Feedback About Staff Performance

Mystery shopping provides the company with honest feedback about how the individual staff members perform, which can help pinpoint any issues and solve them before they become larger problems. For example, a mystery shopper might notice that a cashier is not properly ringing up items at the register and alert management. The information may allow the business to fix the issue before it affects its reputation and sales. 

2. Monitor the Conditions of the Company Facilities as Perceived by a Customer

Inevitably a retail business gets messy, whether from inventory being stocked in the back and brought up to the front or customers causing excessive disorder. Mystery shopping gives a customer’s perception of the degree of messiness with what is existing. For example, the information can help direct the company cleaning crew on when it's time to clean or give them an idea of what needs cleaning. It also extends to maintaining other facilities that customers use regularly and showing concern over their condition. 

3. You Can Get Free Information From Experts and Customers

While mystery shopping, the professional will experience the store or restaurant from a customer's perspective. They can get an idea of what people are thinking about the business and what they like or dislike. For example, if they’re doing a mystery shop at a restaurant, they might see that a customer's setting is dirty and that the customer is dissatisfied with their dining experience. As a result, they can recommend that the restaurant is cleaned regularly to meet customer cleanliness expectations and improve its reputation. 

4. It Allows You To Understand Your Competition

Mystery shopping allows you to get firsthand experience of how your competitors run their businesses. The information allows you to improve your company's quality of service and performance. For example, mystery shopping at a competitor's store can reveal the customers' problems, where they come from, and if they are being handled appropriately. You can then find solutions to similar problems in your business. 

5. You’ll Learn a Lot About Your Business

The information from a mystery shop can help you decide how the business can improve. For example, if it is reported that some customers have experienced poor customer service skills and when they call to complain, their calls are not returned, you will know what you need to do to improve customer service. With this knowledge of your company's weaknesses and strengths, you can make decisions on how to improve your customer service experience best.

6. Mystery Shop Saves Time and Money for the Business Owner

Mystery shopping is a great way to save money and time. If you hire a mystery shopper, it might cost you lesser money than running the research independently. Also, you do not have the time to become a mystery shopper and run a business at the same time. 

7. Gives Feedback About Staff Performance

It's not always possible to immediately find out how employees are performing. For example, if you were the manager in a restaurant, you might be too busy looking to improve customer satisfaction by observing how your employees are running their shifts. If your hire a mystery shopper, it will allow you to collect information that will come in handy later. 

8. Gives Insight Into How Effective Workplace Management Policies Are for a Business

You can keep an eye on the effectiveness of workplace management policies by hiring a mystery shopper. These professionals may also examine if employees are adhering to policies and, more importantly, if they are ensuring customers get a positive experience. Later, you can use the feedback to determine if these policies are too strict or not effective enough. You can then make the necessary changes.

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