The Truth Behind Mystery Shopping: Distinguishing Fact from Fiction

The Truth Behind Mystery Shopping: Distinguishing Fact from Fiction

Why use Mystery Shopping?

Mystery Shopping is a recognised research method that provides valuable insight into the ‘everyday’ customer experience. The information gleaned from Mystery Shopping programmes helps organisations to identify areas of opportunity, recognise and reward best practice, and drive adherence to the desired service framework that other CX measurement tools (e.g. VOC, C-Sat) have shaped.

Having an established Mystery Shopping programme in place demonstrates to both customers and employees the importance that is given to the customer experience. An operationally focused Mystery Shopping programme that has been created to support the frontline teams delivering the service is a proven mechanism in improving the customer journey. This, in turn, leads to increased customer loyalty and an uplift in revenue.

There is no silver bullet with CX measurement, but each measurement tool can be used to complement each other, with many organisations using a mix and match approach of the most appropriate tools to achieve their objectives. We know that some individual organisations may choose to use just one CX measurement tool to gain feedback on the customer experience, but using a range of different tools and looking at the customer experience through different lenses will provide the clearest picture of service.

Fiction: The Same Insight Can Be Found in Customer Feedback Surveys

Customer feedback surveys can be deployed at high volume and low cost, however, there is the risk of a bias towards service extremes with customers only motivated to complete the survey when service has been exceptional or a cause of frustration. Mystery Shopping offers a more balanced view with every assessment providing insight into the ‘everyday’ service experience.

At ABa, we train our Mystery Shoppers to begin each assessment in a neutral state, allowing colleagues to lead the interactions, and in turn give every colleague the opportunity to perform on a level playing field. Mystery Shopping captures the full range of customer touch points, with every visit providing a snapshot of service. The more snapshots taken, the clearer the picture.

With each one of our clients, we aim to become a trusted partner, providing credible data that meets all stakeholder needs. Using professional Mystery Shoppers to carry out pre-determined customer missions generates robust data on the everyday CX on which strategic decisions can be made, allowing businesses to be proactive rather than reactive to their customer’s needs.

Fiction: Mystery Shopping Demotivates Colleagues

Used correctly, Mystery Shopping can be a positive aspect of the employee experience, providing a vehicle for engagement, support, recognition, and reward. By establishing a trusted Mystery Shopping programme, businesses can recognise colleagues and celebrate when they do the right thing, which in turn helps employees to feel valued and boosts moral, leading to improved colleague retention, reduced recruitment needs and lower training costs.

Furthermore, by embedding the desired service framework through an effective Mystery Shopping programme, organisations can improve consistency in the CX, which helps to strengthen brand image and customer loyalty, drive an uplift in sales and ultimately this then benefits all employees. (To find out more, see our Sales Through Service article.)

Fiction: Data is Biased

There is a well-held myth that Mystery Shoppers only focus on negatives or are trying to catch colleagues out, but in reality, the aim of a cohesive Mystery Shopping programme is to provide an objective assessment that highlights the positive behaviours as much as the areas for opportunity. Professional Mystery Shoppers are trained to report the facts of what they see and experience during their assessments and may (depending upon business need) utilise audio or video equipment to monitor compliance to regulatory standards.

At ABa, we have a dedicated Quality Team who review every report and carry out a wide range of data verification checks to ensure consistent and accurate results are delivered.

Fiction: Mystery Shopping is Cost Prohibitive

Some businesses may assume that implementing a Mystery Shopping programme can be prohibitively expensive and complex. However, with the right approach and by working with a provider that can balance meeting core objectives with cost, programmes can be tailored to fit various budgets and organisational needs.

At ABa, we work with our clients to build bespoke programmes to suit their needs. Whether that be a programme that runs weekly, monthly, quarterly, or on an ad hoc basis, or a programme that consists of face-to-face assessments, contact centre calls/emails, live chats, or a mix of all the above. Our programmes are designed to help our clients achieve results.

We have a reputation for being savvy with maximising best use of budget whilst adding value to each project we run, and finding effective solutions that fit within cost parameters and delivers ROI. Underpinning everything we do is our commitment to maximising value for our clients, whilst working in partnership to deliver a Mystery Shopping programme that embeds customer centricity and drives positive change.

To find out more about how we can help any organisation develop and improve their customer’s experience, contact Danielle Sones, Managing Director ( / 0161 431 1221).