What is Mystery Shopping?
Mystery shopping is the process of measuring and recording specific elements of the customer experience through the use of pre-recruited and qualified consumers (or guests as they are called in the hospitality business) who serve as mystery shoppers.
Technically, mystery shopping is a form of market research or field research.
Specifically, mystery shopping is a method of conducting ethnographic research. In recent years, mystery shopping has become a key component of Customer Experience Management (CEM).
What is a Mystery Shopper and What Does He/She Do?
A mystery shopper (or evaluator, as Coyle Hospitality refers to them) is a person who visits an establishment (typically a retail store, bank, restaurant, hotel, etc.) with the direct purpose of observing and measuring customer service, staff behavior, product quality, cleanliness, and the environment of the establishment in general.
Coyle Hospitality further enhances this protocol by incorporating emotional connection elements, thus allowing clients to gain feedback around their customer sentiments.
What are Mystery Shoppers Evaluating When Visiting a Client?
Before embarking on a visit, shoppers are given client objectives by the firm that refers them. Clients can request evaluations of specific aspects of their business so they can be sure that shoppers gather the most actionable feedback.
In hotel mystery shopping, Coyle Hospitality often looks to gather feedback from TripAdvisor and/or a hotel’s guest satisfaction survey program.
In restaurant mystery shopping, clients look at various social media sites (including Yelp and OpenTable) and comment cards to reveal the most common guest complaints. The best mystery shopping programs are aligned with all feedback channels and modified accordingly to ensure progress.
Experience details are captured and then typically entered into a Web-based platform. The best firms, like Coyle Hospitality, use next-generation software that can receive data that the independent shoppers enter on a mobile device or smartphone.
What is a Mystery Shopper’s Influence on a Client?
Mystery shoppers serve as the eyes and ears for those clients as part of successful companies’ efforts to enhance the quality of the customer experience.
These clients typically use the rich feedback gathered through mystery shopping to improve training programs, better articulate expectations they have of their staff, ensure that their external brand messaging matches their internal staff culture, and otherwise improve the customer experience.
Some companies that use mystery shopping use the mystery shopping reports and scores as part of a management bonus program or balanced scorecard. Best practices can also be gleaned from a well-managed mystery shopping program.