What is Mystery Shopping?
Your location? Perfect. Your staff? Experienced and well trained. Your products or services? Top notch and competitively priced. So why is the top spot alluding you?
Mystery shopping could be the missing piece, the way to finally find out what has you stuck in second place. Despite its name, there’s actually nothing mysterious about how and why it works for so many companies. Mystery shopping programs provide simple, objective observations of your staff and operations through the eyes of professional, undercover shoppers.
When mystery shoppers go on assignment to your store, they analyze everything from your customers’ point of view, from site condition to greeting, service, knowledge and parting comments.
Cleanliness is a top concern of many customers, regardless of the nature of the business. Mystery shoppers assess everything from dust and dirt on fixtures, floors and counters to the cleanliness of parking lots and restrooms. These eagle-eyes also report on the store’s organization, clutter, and ease of navigation.
Surveys have indicated most customers like to be greeted upon arrival, whether it’s a restaurant or hardware store. A warm welcome puts them at ease to state their needs. They also like an offer of assistance that is genuine, followed by a helpful exchange that builds rapport and provides the information they’re seeking. Mystery shoppers are trained to ask pertinent questions to analyze the knowledge of your employees. You can structure the shopping reports to meet your needs, so you can test the knowledge of your employees in specific areas.
In any business, up-selling is crucial to increasing revenue. Think how much money has been made by asking the simple question, “Do you want fries with that?” The same applies to any business. Paint buyers need brushes and drop cloths, mattress shoppers no doubt want new pillows, purchasers of haircuts need shampoo. Mystery shoppers are skilled in creating opportunities for upselling, a trait your sales staff needs to increase your bottom line.
You certainly don’t want your staff ever uttering the words, “I don’t know.” The more they know, the more confidence your customers have in their suggestions. A staff member can build trust with customers by simply and positively stating, “Let me find that answer for you,” and then promptly doing so. Mystery shoppers are trained to ask questions of your choosing that meet your particular needs.
Building a base of repeat customers is critical to long-term success. Closing remarks from your staff are as important as opening statements. Mystery shopper reports provide exact quotes along with comments on the demeanor of the staff members who bid them farewell. If a customer feels appreciated and that you have something new to offer on a return visit, you build loyalty and goodwill.
Why is Mystery Shopping Important?
Mystery shopping is not only the provision of data. If simply reviewing data or scores made us better, many of us would be star athletes or wall street tycoons. What mystery shopping does is provide an on-the-ground assessment of the application of key behaviors by our front line associates. In essence, it gives us a “report card” of areas where our team is strong, as well as areas where we have opportunity for improvement. However, these assessments alone are not enough. Once we receive the evaluations, the magic really begins. Utilizing the feedback from RBG mystery shoppers, we now have a hyper focused roadmap of what key behaviors to discuss with our frontline associates. Individual shops should not be viewed as an end-all, be-all of our location’s quality or performance. Rather, they are stimuli for regular conversations about our steps of sales and service.
When we think about it, steps of sales and service are not natural human behaviors; they are learned behaviors. A comparable behavior is looking both ways before we cross the street. At this point in our lives, we are all experts at crossing the street. However, that wasn’t always the case. If we think back, we can all remember standing at the curb with an adult figure as they held our hand and said, “Look both ways. Are there any cars coming? No? Then it’s safe to cross.” This simple practice was repeated every time we were to cross the street, until we reached proficiency with the behavior. Now, it is just reflex for us to look both ways when we approach the curb to cross the street. Thinking about this in the context of sales and service behaviors, an individual’s sales and service aptitude comes from two places: their previous life experience and their previous work experience. Typically, our frontline associates have had neither the life experience nor the work experience to incorporate our service expectations into their daily behaviors. Because of this, it is necessary to evaluate what specific behaviors are our teams’ strengths and what behaviors have an opportunity for improvement and require that regular conversation to commit to reflex.
A mystery shopping program answers the following questions:
- Why does one location perform better than another?
- How can we increase conversions?
- How can we increase average ticket price?
- How can we gain and retain more customers?
- How can we increase sales?
- How can we increase customer loyalty?
In general, a mystery shopper is looking for the following:
- Cleanliness of the store
- Organization of the store
- Whether or not service representatives did the following:
- Did they greet the shopper?
- Did they assess the shopper’s needs and build rapport?
- Did they describe the features and benefits of purchasing their product?
- Did they answer questions accurately and in detail?
- Did they attempt to close the sale?
- Did they thank the shopper for the sale?
- Did they take the initiative to upsell or offer additional assistance?
- Were the proactive?
- Were they polite and appreciative?
So why is mystery shopping important? The simple answer is that it helps makes us all better and competitive.