Mystery shopping is gaining its popularity day by day- especially in the US and UK markets. It can be an excellent tool for getting a detailed insight to customer feedbacks and evaluations- only if they can be properly designed and utilized. It helps any organization to refine their customer care services and link the evaluation with the quality assurance department.
The success of any mystery shopping program is a function of the following two factors:
1. The choice of an efficient provider
2. Choosing the proper foundation while setting up the system.
Choosing the Appropriate Mystery Shopping Agency:
There are many mystery shopping firms currently operating in the market. They are available in all formations, sizes and offerings. While some are really honest and stay dedicated to the clients’ needs, employ qualified people and provide skilled services- a good numbers of frauds and inefficient are there as well. Without having a good knowledge in the field anyone may have the chance of being deceived. Here are some guidelines on how to choose the proper agency:
- Checking the previous record of the agency:
As a general rule, any pro in the industry will tell you not to go for any agency which has a track record of not more than three years. Three years is the minimum time that takes for improving the shoppers’ quality to an excellent level, and it takes more experience to design effective surveys, reports and questionnaires. All of these factors contribute greatly to the level of accuracy and coherence of the report which will reflect the measures you require.
- Look for references:
References are important. Before signing up with them, ask for some contacts of their regular customers who will be willing to provide references for them. Make a few phone calls and query before signing the contract.
A note of caution here: it is very natural for the agency as well as the clients to be unwilling to provide detailed information on their mystery shopping experiences. This emotion must be respected.
- Providers with experiences in the similar field are better:
When you are to shortlist the agencies from which you will choose the one for your organization, give preference to those who have prior and most experience in the similar field, i.e. if you are in a pharmaceutical business, ask for agencies who have previously worked with such companies. Thus you stand better chances of getting a good evaluation.
Also remains the fact that, each agency has its own fields of expertise. Choosing the one which have better hold in your background- is undoubtedly the best option. Usually, the most professional agencies will tell you their expertise and advice you your best shot.
Note that, if any agency is claiming they are expert at everything- that will sound just way too good to be true. So will be if an agency claims they’ll provide 24/7 services at the lowest rates. Always remember- good stuffs have a price to be paid for.
Setting up a proper foundation:
- Be candid with the agency:
After you have singled out the agency to go for- do ask them to fax/mail you the signed copy of the agreement- which will be explicit and non-disclosure. Once this has been done- now you can go and share the internal information of your organization. The information should include details on the following issues:
- list of locations
- product and service details as well as the upcoming strategies
- A thorough explanation of the key areas where the organization seems to have weak links. They should be told the key points and how you want to be evaluated. The best practice is to send them a list of bullet-pointed issues, which requires feedback. Being specific and concise is necessary hence so that the agency can easily and clearly prepare the survey tools.
- Prepare a thorough location list:
The agency will be sending their contractors in different locations for the surveys- so it won’t be wise sending them a location list which is not updated. Make a thorough list of the locations to be covered- if possible include a summary of each location describing their ambiances, what to seek etc. Hence, sending soft copies are better ideas- it will save the agency from giving manual input in their system.
- Report considerations:
Explain it to the agency at the beginning that who’ll be the receiver of the report. Also they need to know to what channel the report will be distributed along the organization- whether it will be kept to the directors only or will be distributed to the regional managers as well.
- Scoring systems:
Reports can be prepared using different quantifying methods. The criteria required can be ranked or scored. Which one is your preference- clarify it to the agency. If your requirement is the scoring model than its better if you assign the points for each factor. The points or the weights should be assigned according the level of importance each factor has with respect to your organization.
Interpretation of results:
A nicely designed mystery shopping system won’t be enough if the results are not read and analyzed properly. After all, it is for the results for which so much hassle has been taken. Most of the times, reports are presented with a comparison of the industry average- this help the organization come up with strategies that will improve the scenario. Every business needs to go for perpetual innovation in order to survive- and mystery shopping helps them to achieve that.