Ann Michaels & Associates has worked with companies over the last decade to assist with measuring and monitoring the customer experience through mystery shopping, customer feedback and satisfaction, and social media monitoring. Customized programs and analytical reports complete each program, providing companies with actionable data to view trends and make improvements to ensure excellent customer service standards. To learn more about the company, please visit http://www.ishopforyou.com.
Interview, Part II – Mystery Shopping Assignments
Is there a certain type or size company that can benefit from mystery shopping services?
Companies of all sizes can benefit from mystery shopping services. Many times a company may think because they only have a few locations, they are “too small” to need this type of service.
Businesses need to remember that as they grow, they will need to monitor all of their stores to ensure that the same quality of service is provided across the board. This is especially true with franchises – brand and reputation are very important, and mystery shopping can assist in maintaining high standards. Mystery shopping programs are an excellent tool for this purpose.
Many industries benefit from mystery shopping programs, including retail, restaurants, banks, and hospitality. Other industries that use mystery shopping include park districts, movie theaters, water parks, gas stations, airlines, manufacturers/distributors, nursing home/assisted living facilities, and product demonstrators to name a few. We are also seeing a trend where B2B mystery shopping is becoming more prominent, as is competitive mystery shopping in which companies “shop” their competition.
What kinds of issues can a mystery shopper help a company identify?
Mystery shoppers play an important role to companies using this type of program. Because they are reporting on the entire experience, mystery shoppers provide the company with a “snapshot” of what a customer experiences. Issues that are evaluated include the initial greeting upon arrival, length of time to be assisted, employee knowledge, sales skills, and even staffing concerns. When companies are using a program on a regular basis, they will be able to use the analytical reports to look for trends, strengths, and areas that need improvement.
Typically, shoppers are using a scenario to evaluate the experience.
For example, in a home improvement store, shoppers may be asking what products are needed to complete a simple home project.
The company will want to make sure that the employee is suggesting the appropriate products, educating the shopper on the project details, and attempting to upsell or cross sell to make sure that the customer has everything they need to complete that project.
How does your company recruit mystery shoppers?
Our company has a database of mystery shoppers across North America. In addition, we have access to many sources to recruit shoppers when needed. We are members of the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) (http://www.mysteryshop.org/), so we have access to shoppers who are certified through that association. We also use job boards, including Volition (www.volition.com/) and Jobslinger (www.jobslinger.com/) to post upcoming shops when needed.
Are there opportunities for in-person mystery shopping as well as online mystery shopping?
Mystery shopping takes on many formats, whether it be in person, telephone, email, or website reviews. As companies expand their business and venture online, it is important to make sure that emails are responded to promptly, orders are shipped properly, and that websites are easy to navigate with a simple purchase process. Really, mystery shopping is done to evaluate and measure all aspects of a company’s customer service.