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It’s No Mystery

By 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. (Source). It is therefore essential for every B2C (and B2B, but that’s another article) organisation to focus on the customer experience they are delivering, and to have a means to draw an accurate picture of that experience.

According to a CEI Survey, 86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience, but only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations (Source)

In this regard, mystery shopping is impressively effective in measuring the consistency and performance of an organisation in delivering to their customers.

However, before selecting a service provider to undertake your mystery shopping for you, it’s important to look at 3 key areas that will ultimately inform the value and usefulness of your research.

The Purpose of Mystery Shopping:

Why are you doing this mystery shop? Is it because the towels aren’t being folded quite carefully enough, or staff aren’t handing receipts to your customers?

If the answer is yes, we suggest a team meeting, followed by a pep talk and some form of action-consequence briefing. The reason being, it’s both awkward and unnecessary to bring in an external research provider solely to police your staff.

Exceptional service delivery is most definitely crucial to the success of your experience but it is a given, not a differentiator. What really determines the success of your experience are the memorable moments, the personal touches and interactions that you just can’t summarise in an inventory checklist.

So the purpose of your mystery shop should be to look for these moments and interactions, and to find out their impact and how to operationalise them into your business.

The Perspective of the Mystery Shopping:

In terms of the experience your brand is delivering, the perspective you see it from is crucial to understanding it.

While many research providers will swear by professional mystery shoppers, stating reliability and accuracy as their reasons, this is not the perspective you should be interested in. If consumers are reliably and accurately able to complete customer feedback surveys, there is no reason why they cannot be briefed and enabled to conduct mystery shops.

In fact, the result is that you will actually be able to see your brand experience through the eyes of the customer, with a focus on what is actually important to them, as well as their expectations and interactions within the experience you are delivering to them.

While professional mystery shoppers tend to be mechanical in their approach to shopping, consumers actually feel the experience, a difference that can clearly be seen if you compare the feedback of the latter to the former.

The Timelines of the Mystery Shopping

At the risk of taking the side of instant gratification, the moments that matter only matter if you can act on them. Mystery shopping is most effective if your research provider can deliver these findings to you in real-time.

Why? Well, this gives you the opportunity to not only understand why a poor experience happened and how to prevent it in future – it also allows you to remedy your guest’s poor experience.

It means that you don’t have to lose money while waiting around for a way forward that is informed by your customers – you can actually measure and manage experience simultaneously.

You are able to learn, grow and improve efficiently because you have access to relevant information that can shape the way your approach experience and inform the decisions you make within your organisation.

The bottom line:

Excuse the pun, but it is definitely a good idea to shop around before deciding on a provider. If you’d like to make a start, check out our video on Consumer Mystery Shopping, or read about it here.

if you’d like . Remember, it was Mark Twain who said, “It is wiser to find out than to suppose”. So email us at info@interactrdt.com or call us on 011 994 9960, to kick the mystery bit and find out more about this methodology.

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