What is mystery shopping?
Mystery shopping or secret shopping is a way for retail managers to evaluate their employees comprehensively. It’s used to ensure compliance with behavior norms and agreed-upon processes in the workplace, and to analyze the quality of products and services. Mystery shopping helps identify any corrective measures necessary to improve customer experience.
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What are mystery shopper checklists?
Mystery shopper checklists help companies conduct market research in their stores. These checklists can be used to give mystery shoppers an easy way to assess products and services.
These checklists contain many types of questions. Depending on the industry, typical areas for mystery shoppers checklists to examine include:
- External and internal impression of the store
- Employee friendliness and initiative
- Cleanliness and order
- Product presentation and inventory
- Competence and closing orientation
- Overall impression
Checklists for mystery shopping are used in various customer-facing industries, like pharmacies, car dealerships, banks, call centers, retail stores, fitness studios, restaurants, and hotels.
The goal of mystery shopper checklists is to improve customer service and customer satisfaction, as well to be more compliant with regulations.
What should be included in a mystery shopper checklist?
The exact questions you ask depend on your store and your product. Generally, you should always ask about overall experience. You should also ask if the mystery shopper has any suggestions for improvement. Some sample questions for your mystery shopper checklist include:
- Why do consumers choose one product over another in the same market?
- How can this store outperform competitors? What does a shopper look for when they decide to buy one brand of product over another?
- How does employee service compare to service at similar stores?
- How is the quality of the product (sturdiness, materials, durability, etc.)?
- Are there any defects (broken, cracked, or missing parts, etc.)?
- Is the packaging visually appealing, whole, and undamaged?
- How is the user experience? Is it easy to use and intuitive or awkward and unhandy?
- Is the restroom clean, fully stocked, and well maintained (Toilet paper, paper towels, soap, etc.)?
- Have you been approached by an employee within 30 seconds of entering the store?
- Was every item you wanted to purchase available?
- Were the prices reasonable?
- Were all items that were checked for freshness still shelf-stable?
- Were there fewer than three customers in line?
Mystery shoppers are also used in gastronomy and other food service businesses. Restaurant owners who utilize mystery shopping are concerned with:
- Food quality
- Staff and their kindness
- If the food was served in a timely manner
In order to evaluate these things, they might ask:
- Were the tables and chairs organized and free from damage?
- Was the general ambience relaxing and comfortable?
- How does the food taste?
- Did the server have knowledge of the menu?
- Were your beverages delivered within four minutes?
- Did the staff wear clean aprons and unwrinkled uniforms?
- Did the manager come to visit your table?
How does mystery shopping work?
As a rule, mystery shoppers are hired by a business so that it can assess itself from a customer perspective. Mystery shopping is characterized by:
- Auditing internal processes
Mystery shopping should accurately evaluate compliance with store processes from an objective standpoint. It is not a customer survey; mystery shopping is primarily intended to check that employees follow internal regulations.
- Mystery research guidelines
The process of mystery shopping is regulated by market research associations. For example, no individual employee can be mentioned by name and or checked. Anyone hoping to engage in professional mystery shopping must observe ADM/BVM guidelines.
- Informing the business
The company/business being evaluated must be informed that mystery shopping will take place, including the approximate time span for the deployment.
- Training for a uniform procedure
The mystery shopping procedure needs to be standardized so that you can gain comparable insights and impressions from every company and employee. For this purpose, mystery shoppers must be trained and aware of company-specific features.
What does a mystery shopper do?
What is a mystery shopper? They are in charge of assessing your store, products, layout, and customer service through the eyes of an ordinary consumer. A mystery shopper should be trained in mystery shopping guidelines as well as know the features and specifics of your company. When preparing mystery shoppers for their task:
- Avoid too many details
Mystery shoppers need to remember several impressions at once, so you should not detail but remain general. This should also be clarified in advance.
- Enter data immediately
Always record observations as they are seen, so that mystery shopping results are as accurate as possible. You can make data acquisition easier by using mystery shopper checklists.
- Reevaluate data
Check collected data to make sure it is correct and unbiased. After it’s documented, the data should be forwarded to responsible parties for analysis and evaluation.
At the end of the shopping trip, the buyer will complete a mystery shopper analysis report. The company will then use this report to evaluate their performance and carry out any necessary changes.
What do typical mystery shopper checklist answers look like?
Ideal mystery shoppers don’t just answer yes or no to checklist questions, they provide a bit of context or explanation. That way, you can use their feedback to improve more easily. Here is a sample of answers from a mystery shopper’s hotel visit:
- At first, I was not offered assistance with my luggage. They had a series of dolly carts lined up in the corner which the desk assistant directed me to upon check-in. I was in the middle of placing the luggage on the carts when an employee came out from a room behind the desk and offered assistance.
- Overall, the room felt clean upon entering. Upon closer inspection, however, there was a fine layer of dust covering the tv stand and side tables. The carpet near the doors was clean, but when I walked to the other side of the bed, there was some debris on the floor like the cleaning staff didn’t vacuum the entire room.
- Yes, the bathroom was up to par. I was impressed by the level of cleanliness and attention to detail.
- I was greeted by friendly staff as soon as I walked up to put my name in for a table.
- No, I was not approached by a staff member while sitting in the lobby lounge area.
- Overall, the hotel was in decent condition, but not what I expected from a five-star establishment. Considering the cost, I expect the rooms to be spotless, free of dust, and with fully stocked bathrooms. I also would expect to be greeted whenever I entered the lobby, either from the elevators or the front doors.
From these answers, a final analysis would conclude that the hotel could improve both its cleanliness and customer service. The main complaint is the inconsistency between the nightly rate and the quality of the service being received.
What are the advantages of a digital mystery shopping checklist?
Ditching paper in your mystery shopping inspections offers your business several advantages, including:
- Saving time – You can send completed questionnaires directly to mystery shoppers with just one click.
- It’s clearer – You can instantly see what has and hasn’t been completed, and you don’t have to decipher handwriting.
- It’s all in one place – All documents are stored online on your mobile device or computer.
Why use Lumiform for mystery shopping checklists?
Lumiform is a great way for your company to conduct shopping surveys more conveniently. With the mobile app and desktop software, gone are the days of conducting assessments with pen and paper.
Mystery shoppers can use their smartphone or tablet to complete checklists while on site and record the most important impressions discreetly. This means you won’t miss any important details.
Lumiform automatically generates a summary of every report at the end of each survey. In addition, the analysis functions can be used for evaluations and are contained in the same tool.
The flexible form builder helps you create digital checklists in minutes, and adjust them whenever needed.
Since the app guides mystery shoppers through every checklist step by step, there’s no need to provide special training each time. Lumiform does as much as possible to eliminate human error and makes documentation much faster.