Is there really a secret? It really depends upon the way you look at it.
Very few know that up to 500,000 people in the UK are registered as Secret Shoppers, (or Mystery Shoppers as they are known), but in reality less than 10% of those are regularly dedicated to the task. So it can be regarded as a specialist field.
On the other hand, Mystery Shopping does exactly what it says on the tin. And the clue of course is in the name. A shopping assessment of a service is carried out by an unknown person, measured against precise criteria. The specific instance is the only secret. And there's a lot of planning, preparation and skill in getting it right.
From the extensive database of registered UK secret shoppers, local people can be selected, who then pose as real-life customers whilst assessing customer service levels and reporting back on their experience.
Using secret shoppers who live close to the business being assessed, with all the local knowledge they possess, ensures a completely authentic and realistic interaction with members of the business staff; helping to keep that secret shopper, well, secret.
Secret shoppers employ a wide variety of methods to assess the sales and service of a business, from a simple online enquiry via a website or social media page, through to a physical face to face visit or scheduled appointment.
Selecting one of these methods of mystery shopping, enables businesses of all types to assess a specific part of their customer journey, such as initial enquiries by phone; or by combining different methods they can assess their omni-channel customer experience, from website browsing through to in-store experience and sales follow-up.
The secret shopper is the key to measuring your progress towards your business goals, unlocking the issues that impede progress, and ultimately achieving customer experience nirvana.
Face to face mystery shopping assignments can also be recorded using covert video equipment. Mystery Shopping companies and secret shoppers will have their own recording equipment, and so can offer you the opportunity to play back and listen to the interaction, as if you were actually there.
Video footage is a fabulous medium to really bring findings to life for training purposes or to get buy in to the mystery shopping process from other stakeholders in your business. Not to mention providing irrefutable proof of who said what and how the interaction played out.
The equipment sounds complicated and very 007, but secret shopper equipment is highly discreet and comes in the form of a button-hole camera or hidden camera within the lining of a bag. Secret shoppers ensure they capture a good amount of headshot footage, so you can really assess your staff members’ body language and facial expression as well as the spoken sales process and customer experience delivery.
Once the secret shopper has completed their assignment, they will report back in a bespoke written report, which covers all aspects of the interaction from a sales process and customer experience point of view. Audio and video files (where applicable) should also be provided via an online results portal. This provides a client business with relevant, actionable insights into their staff’s performance, highlighting what is being done well and where there is room for improvement.
These very specific insights should feed into the creation or adaptation of training plans, breaking the interaction and sales process down into manageable sections that staff can learn and practise. The success of these training plans can then be monitored during future secret shopper projects to celebrate improvement and continual progression towards business objectives.
Although there is emphasis on the secret shopper being a complete mystery (the clue’s in the name!) staff should always be aware that they may be mystery shopped; they just don’t know when or where.
Implementing a professional and fair secret shopper programme encourages your team to go above and beyond as they serve customers on a daily basis. It creates a positive learning environment for staff and can even be used as part of a financial incentive programme. For example, one of our clients gives members of their team £100 if they score 100% on their mystery shop. It doesn’t get much more motivating than that!
Or just get in touch with any of us for a chat.