Although mystery shopping has been around for decades – and really hit its stride in the 21st century – it remains one of the most misunderstood and underutilized services in modern business.

Many view the industry as a simple service that sends shoppers to bars and restaurants to see if drinks are properly poured and fries are suggestively sold, a practice often called Personal Mystery Shopping. While that is certainly one service many mystery shopping companies provide, it’s certainly not reflective of the myriad of other ways these companies can make your business more profitable and successful.

Mystery Phone Shopping
If your company relies on telephone communications to market, sell or provide customer service, this is an excellent program to evaluate employee performance and implement necessary solutions. Mystery shoppers call your business with questions you develop to evaluate your employees’ knowledge, accessibility, friendliness and professionalism. The calls are recorded and uploaded to each report for your review, along with a series of questions as well as narratives with additional details of the interaction.

Phone Mystery Shopping is ideal for assessing any employees who represent your company on the phone, whether they are taking orders, answering inquiries, resolving technical and non-technical issues, or providing a variety of information on multiple topics.

Online Mystery Shopping
More and more frequently, online communications are an integral part of many businesses. When properly executed, online communication and purchasing can save you time and money, eliminating the need for voice communications. However, if the online interactions are impersonal and don’t specifically address customer needs, they will likely turn to one of your competitors. Online mystery shoppers initiate online communications with your company and forward those email interactions to you, along with response times and other pertinent information, so you can determine how well it’s working for you.

Competitive Mystery Shopping
Regardless of how successful your company is, you probably always wonder what your competition is up to. Competitive mystery shoppers evaluate the opposition with questions you choose and will even drop your company name as another business they will be checking out to see what response that elicits. Many mystery shopping clients have shoppers evaluate their businesses back-to-back with the competition to assess how they stack up on employee performance standards.

B2B Mystery Shopping
While mystery shopping used to be mainly limited to B2C assessments, in recent years it has expanded to the B2B sector. Shoppers pose as company representatives, often from fictitious accounts and companies, calling or emailing to inquire about your goods or services and then forward the results to you for evaluation. This allows you to determine employee knowledge as well as assess cross selling, upselling, and customer relations skills. You can also judge if your brand is being presented positively and in its entirety as well as if effective sales and marketing techniques are used. These results help you spot and correct immediate problems and can also be used for training purposes.

Manufacturer/Distributor Mystery Shopping
These shoppers visit businesses that sell many brands from various manufacturers. Their assessments determine what brands the employee recommends as well as tests their product knowledge and ability to clearly present and compare features and distinctly explain warranty terms and conditions. Assignments often include analysis of product displays and presentation and availability of promotional materials. Manufacturer and distributor mystery shopping is just one of a variety of mystery shopping programs tailored to distinct industries.

Training Through Mystery Shopping
No matter what type of mystery shopping services you choose for your company, the information you glean from your reports is invaluable as an internal training tool. Use data from your reports to create a seminar program outlining the weakest sales points and how to correct them, pointing out the most successful sales techniques, and reviewing the most effective customer relations approaches. Casually quiz the seminar attendees a few days later to determine if your seminar educated or helped them improve their job performance.

Almost any business can benefit from one or more types of mystery shopping programs. And while mystery shopping may still be a little misunderstood, it’s a powerful tool that can truly give you an inside look at your business from your customers’ perspective. So remember, there are all sorts of mystery shopping programs and you’re bound to find one or more that fits your business perfectly. Contact us at RBG today to begin customizing the best mystery shopping program for your business.

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