Thursday, December 8, 2011

Be Aware of Mystery Shopping Scams!!

Mystery Shopping Scams Lure the Unemployed
Article by Jeanette Kanko
How about going shopping and getting paid to do it? With so many Americans out of work – or under-employed – it’s alluring to think of being able to go to a store, spend someone else’s money, and get paid to do so. But consumers are complaining to BBB that some mystery shopper job offers are nothing more than scams involving counterfeit checks.
Here’s what happens – letters claim that consumers have been selected to work as a mystery shopper, going to stores, buying items, and reporting on the customer service. The letter tells which stores to go to. A reporting form is enclosed, along with a check, usually between about $1,000 and $4,000.
The consumer is instructed to deposit the check and make purchases. For one purchase, consumers are told to go to Western Union or MoneyGram and wire most of the amount of the check to a certain address. The balance of the check amount supposedly is the consumer’s pay for doing the mystery shopping.
Recently a consumer in Dallas asked Better Business Bureau about an offer from a business in New York City. A check was enclosed. The consumer was told to spend $100 at either Wal Mart, Macy’s, Sears, Best Buy, Kroger, or Walgreens, and keep the items. He was also told to “evaluate” Western Union by wiring $1,425 to a person supposedly in Spain. His pay would be $350 out of the original money deposited in his bank account.
The problem in this type of scam is that the check sent to the consumer turns out to be counterfeit. The check may look very real, and the bank might even accept it at first. But soon the bank determines that it’s counterfeit, and if the consumer has already wired the money, then the consumer is on the hook to pay back the money to the bank.
The Dallas man was suspicious, so he checked with his bank and learned the check was invalid. “If I had not waited to see if the check cleared, I would be out $1,425 of my own money!” he said.
Mystery shopping scams involving fake checks are very widespread, and the scammers are always changing the business names, addresses and phone numbers on the letters and on the fake checks. Very often the scammers use business names and addresses that are the same or nearly the same as real businesses.
There are many variations on fake check scams. BBB warns consumers not to wire money to unknown persons as part of a job, lottery winnings, grants, or other pretexts. The request to wire the money is a red flag that it may be a scam.
To learn more about different kinds of fake check scams, see
If you have lost money to a fake check scam, file a complaint with your local police department.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How Mystery Shopping Can Improve Restaurants

In the restaurant industry, it is essential to remember the most important aspects of the trade: making great first impressions, customer satisfaction and ensuring you will have returning customers. Mystery Shopping is a great way to ensure a restaurant is performing at optimum capacity. Through the use of shops Instant-Replays can identify areas of weakness to be improved upon like the ones below.  

Have a Professional Website – A restaurant’s website should convey what type of establishment they are running. Therefore, your website should contain your address and phone number on every page as well as a menu that is easy to read. If your restaurant is elegant and upscale, let your website reflect that. If not, create an informal website that lets potential customers what environment your restaurant offers them.

The Phone – Ensure that someone adequately qualified is answering the company phone. If a potential customer calls for a reservation and cannot obtain appropriate attention, they will more than likely dine elsewhere. That missed reservation could have been a party of 10-15 people. Can your restaurant afford to lose that revenue?

Ensure Cleanliness – When dining at a new restaurant, the first thing customers notice is the cleanliness of an establishment. Make a statement to them that you care by cleaning the dining room and entrance regularly. This means cleaning the windows, tables, chairs, and light fixtures daily.

Act Friendly – As soon as customers enter your establishment, greet them. This seems obvious and minor, but many businesses become slack with this policy. People like to be welcomed. It makes them feel as if you truly enjoy them visiting your establishment. When they leave make sure you tell them to come back. A welcoming staff can make a bigger difference than you would think on first impressions!

A Polite Hostess is Necessary– Your restaurant’s hostess is the first person to greet customers. Yes, their job is routine and can become boring. However, make sure they are appropriately executing their job. Simply saying “this way please” or “follow me” is not acceptable. Customers are looking for someone to welcome them to the restaurant with a friendly smile and ask how they are doing.

These 5 important aspects of the restaurant industry are simply common mistakes restaurants make. However, with every restaurant, there are different situations that arise because no two businesses are identical. Sign up for an appointment with Instant-Replays today and we will set your business up with a mystery shopping experience that will improve your customer satisfaction. 

Through mystery shopping we can improve on the areas mentioned above as well as any other weaknesses that mystery shopping identifies. You Have to Listen to Improve! Invest in your businesses future by listening to what your clients have to say. Sign up for a mystery shop today or tell a friend in the restaurant industry how they can improve their business!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

How Mystery Shopping Can Improve Your Business?

The top priority of a business should be customer satisfaction. This poses the question: how do you determine the level of satisfaction of your customers? There is no better way to establish and improve customer satisfaction than through the use of mystery shopping. 

The Process
Mystery shoppers come into your business, act as a normal customer and evaluate your customer service. When the process is completed, we will share with you our conclusions of how to improve your customer service. Consequently, because of improved customer service, you will hopefully see increased sales.

In the past, video shops have been extremely successful at Instant-Replays. Typically, shoppers find aspects of a business to be improved upon which the managers had never considered. Once these flaws are addressed and fixed, business is better than ever.

While some individuals are reluctant to have their business critiqued, mystery shopping is truly for your benefit only. Therefore, you should consider it an investment in your company’s future profits and see what you can improve upon. After all, can you afford to lose sales because of an easily fixable problem such as poor customer service?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sell Homes by Simply Listening

         As you know Instant-Replays is always concerned about helping you increase sales and aiding in the overall success of your business through our performance improvement services. The following excerpt is based on a true shopping scenario the names have been taken out to protect the innocent. Ask yourself: Could this happen in your business? Has this already happened in your business? Can you afford to miss a sale?

Dear Mr. /Ms. / Mrs.  _________
    As you know, I have been looking for a home for quite some time now, and I am definitely interested in purchasing. However, I have concerns before I can make any final decisions. Although you have been very helpful in showing me beautiful homes, not all of them have met the standards I expressed to you when I started this journey. I feel like there is a lack of communication between us that we can easily fix. It’s possible that I may not have expressed enough importance on some of my desires. I know there must be a home out there that meets all my needs, and I’m confident you can help me find it. 
Since the beginning, I have been very adamant about having a spacious two story home because I do a lot of entertaining.  Besides my husband and two kids, I also have a big family that will be visiting from out of state often. I want them to have accommodations when necessary. I need space to entertain on major holidays and birthdays among other occasions. I need at least three bedrooms to accommodate my children, my husband and I.  Many of the one story homes I’ve seen only offer two bedrooms, but I want my children to have their own space. My guests will need a comfortable place to sleep as well; this means I need about four bedrooms to accommodate everyone properly. I want my new home to be comfortable and not crowded. Thank you so much for all your help, and I hope to hear from you soon.

The Lesson…
 "You have to listen to improve!" It can be difficult to find the right home for a client when they have several needs that should be met, but if you take time to truly listen to your client the process can be facilitated.
    The potential homebuyer has a lifestyle set in their mind when they step into a new home; immediately they are trying to imagine their lifestyle taking place in the new setting. As the agent, it is your job to paint a picture for them when they enter the home; the construction of the home is less important than relating to their desires in a lifestyle. For example, if the family enjoys entertaining than they will probably need a larger kitchen area to prepare meals for them, and several bedrooms to accommodate the guests. Taking time to listen to the client is important because you will discover what the client enjoys doing and the type of home they need to support all their requirements

Monday, August 15, 2011

Survey Course of Action

Note: It’s often worthwhile to have a survey prepared and administered by a research organization. However, you will still need to work with them on the following steps so that the survey will be most useful.
  1. Decide what you want to learn from the survey and how you will use the results.
  2. Decide who should be surveyed. Identify population groups; if they are too large to permit surveying everyone, decide how to obtain a sample. Decide what demographic information is needed to analyze and understand the results.
  3. Decide on the most appropriate type of survey.
  4. Decide whether the survey’s answers will be numerical rating, numerical ranking, yes–no, multiple choice or open-ended—or a mixture.
  5. Brainstorm questions and, for multiple choice, the list of possible answers. Keep in mind what you want to learn, and how you will use the results. Narrow down the list of questions to the absolute minimum that you must have to learn what you need to learn.
  6. Print the questionnaire or interviewers’ question list.
  7. Test the survey with a small group. Collect feedback.
    • Which questions were confusing?
    • Were any questions redundant?
    • Were answer choices clear? Were they interpreted as you intended?
    • Did respondents want to give feedback about topics that were not included? (Open-ended questions can be an indicator of this.)
    • On the average, how long did it take for a respondent to complete the survey?
    • For a questionnaire, were there any typos or printing errors?
Also test the process of tabulating and analyzing the results. Is it easy? Do you have all the data you need?
  1. Revise the survey based on test results.
  2. Administer the survey.
  3. Tabulate and analyze the data. Decide how you will follow through. Report results and plans to everyone involved. If a sample was involved, also report and explain the margin of error and confidence level.
 ASQ: The Global Voice of Quality . 2004. 15 August 2011 <>.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Video Shops

       Many mystery shoppers are uncomfortable with the idea of doing video mystery shopping, but two major advantages are the pay (typical is $25-$50 per shop, and it can go as high as $100 for a very complex shop), and the fact that in most cases, the video you have shot is the shop report, so paperwork is minimal post-shop.

          Shoppers who have concerns about taking their "secret shopping" to a new level can be reassured by the fact that most employers who undertake these programs understand that they can be audio or video recorded by a mystery shopper under their employment agreement. The employers then use this tape to provide further training to their employees. It can also be included in their performance evaluation. Of course this makes both the shopper and the client highly accountable.

         This last part is something to think about. Not only is everything the employee does captured on video, it is also very obvious as to whether or not you conducted the shop according to guidelines (although your proof that you did it right is also on the tape in the event of a dispute). But suppose something happens to your "proof". I always say technology is great...when it works. The downside of audio or video mystery shopping is that technical difficulties can occur. If you forget to turn on your recorder, the battery dies, the focus is off, etc., you may not be paid for your shop.

      Overall, for experienced shoppers who are comfortable with the idea of using video equipment in their work, it looks like it could be a good way to earn higher shop fees than the norm with less paperwork. I advise newbies and beginners to wait until they have many shops under their belt before they attempt video mystery shopping. They first need to be very comfortable with "traditional" mystery shopping, and can pull off a scenario with ease, before they add the distraction and complexity of concealed equipment to the mix.

Jordan, Melanie R. 2002. <>.

Monday, August 1, 2011

What is the Point of Using a Survey for Business?

To evaluate the progress and growth of a particular business or company Surveys are normally carried out. Those companies which rarely carry out such activities find it very hard to judge whether their company is growing or deteriorating day by day.
The degree of customer surveys generally higher compared to that of employee surveys; this is because customers are what creates the soft running of the company. If a customer does not receive satisfactory services, they may as well decide to move to another company which serves them better, that is why there has to be a survey carried out once in a while to find out if customers are satisfied with the services they get.
Normally a Customer survey entails the response to the kind of services, whether the products they have been using from their company have been helpful in any way and if they are increasing in number or not. There is also a customer loyalty survey which is normally carried out to see to what degree the customers are connected to the company or indeed if they are not at all connected or have no interest in being furthermore.
The company also holds an employee engagement survey to note if they have reliable working personnel or if they are only temporary. The degree of employee engagement and commitment matters a lot in the development of a company.
Working staff surveys are a good way to find out if there is need in employing other staff before the company gets out of hand. A good staff survey will give a 360 degree feedback meaning that the company will always keep track of its services and chances of it collapsing are minimal.
The weak part of a company is employee survey services, giving it an opportunity to be more competent and perform better compared to how it did before the survey.

Poole, Robert. Project Business Management . 7 June 2011. <>.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Business Benefits!

Keeping a satisfied, repeat customer is an ongoing challenge that all retail outlets face, especially when it comes to building a solid bottom line.
Many factors – positive and negative – can influence bottom line performance, so quantifying the financial return on investment of any new initiative can be difficult. One solution for maintaining customer loyalty is the implementation of a solid mystery shopping program.
“Most companies create a mystery shopping program around a singular need, like an employee incentive or franchisee compliance program,” Matt Wozniak, president and CEO of National Shopping Service, said. “The department responsible for administering the mystery shopping program gathers the field observations and disseminates the information to their group. However, there is a plethora of data that can be extracted and utilized by almost every department within an organization.”
Implementing a non-biased monitoring tool like a mystery shopping program, along with enhanced training and constructive feedback, is a step toward the goal of maintaining customer loyalty.
“Most staff members at a convenience store, for example, are initially uncomfortable selling because they’re cashiers, after all, not salespeople,” Wozniak said. “They feel as though they are bugging the customer or are being forced by management to sell something the customer didn’t want in the first place. And at peak customer flow times, suggestive selling becomes just another task that slows down queue times. Mystery shopping programs produce valuable information about customer expectations for a business’s product or service, and how the staff follows company directives. It’s all about the perception of brand performance and how it affects the bottom line.
Outline what you want your customers to do more often or less often. Wozniak emphasizes that each item must be “measurable” and something “to be observed.”
“This list would not include customer feelings, opinions or attitudes. Only things that can be measured and observed,” Wozniak said.
Determine how the staff will need to be trained to affect each customer behavior modification, how it will be measured, how the incentives to perform will be implemented, and what equipment needs to be upgraded, refurbished or replaced – plus the cost to implement each part of the step.
Create a potential revenue generation (or savings) for each customer behavior alteration process. These will be estimates.
In addition, historical references can be gleaned from mystery shopping providers based on an industry’s specific needs.
“Customers want to be comfortable with a business and know that they’ll always be treated right,” Wozniak concluded. “Customers also know that on those occasions when a business falls short – and they will – they’ll make an ‘exceptional’ recovery to show that they’re needed, and they want their business.”

Dullum, D. (n.d.). Secret Shopping. Retrieved 2011, from

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Why Use Mystery Shopping?

1. What's the Value in a Mystery Shopper Program?
a. The most important reason for conducting a mystery shop, is to see your business through the eyes of your customer. Not only should you consider mystery shops, but using focus groups on a quarterly basis that are made up of some of your actual customers. Both sources will provide you with excellent feedback that you can start to focus on.
b. Second, a well-thought out mystery shopper program will allow you to evaluate the accuracy of your training program. If your employees are taught in their training program that they must greet the customer in a certain way, the "shop" will show the results. It is also a way to hold employees accountable for what they learned in training. If you train them you can test them!
c. Third, it helps a company to truly focus on the areas that need improving, based on the customer's reactions. Too often management believes that there needs to be changes in one area and the customer feedback shows that the focus needs to be elsewhere in order to keep them as a loyal customer. Management may think that tightly merchandising their floor space is giving the customer the selection they want, and it turns out that the customer says it is too cramped to shop comfortably.
2. Where Do I Start?
a. Slow down and think, is my answer. First, think about the information you really want to obtain from these reports and what are you going to do with it. The questions you want to ask are one of the most important parts of the program. The best place to obtain the questions is to go back to the training material.
b. You probably have non-negotiable questions that you can begin with. Those are the things you teach employees that must be done, no matter what. If you want to attach points to the questions, then you can give more points to the questions that you want your employees to be the best at. Let's say answering the phone in a certain way is mandatory. If they know that, and they are held responsible for doing that, then you should have it on the questionnaire and you can feel confident about attaching a higher number of points to it.
c. The next step is to hire the shoppers. This can make or break your program. Too often companies think they are saving money by hiring friends and family. I suggest that you hire people you don't know. You are looking for unbiased feedback and the best way is to hire the right people for it.

Mystery Shopping. (2011). Retrieved from Internet and Mystery Shopping:

Benefits of Internet in Mystery Shopping

Mystery shopping companies use Internet as a medium for communicating and doing research. It enables them to access the results in a very short span of time. It provides instant and good data to assess and manage customer services.
Customer services provided by any company decide its level of success and popularity in the market. Customer service should always be given importance and preference by businesses. The assessment of the level of customer service and performance of the employees, through mystery shopping, by making use of Internet is called real time mystery shopping. Companies try to stay ahead of their competitors by improving in problem areas that are revealed in the audits and scrutiny. They make necessary variations to uplift their sales. Internet enables them to do all these as fast as possible.
There are several companies that provide real-time mystery shopping to their clients. They provide integrated Internet based programs for market research. Besides, Internet provides quick and good-quality programs at reasonable rates in making schedules and recruitments for mystery shopping. Internet plays a vital role in collecting data, managing mystery shoppers from around the world and reporting. The use of advanced software by service agencies to set up global panels for discussion and other purposes are practically possible only because of Internet.

Mystery Shopping. (2011). Retrieved from Internet and Mystery Shopping:

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Telephone Performance Shopping

Performance analysis and mystery shopping is crucial for any modern business. It is an important part of improving quality of service and enhancing sales so that the business progresses and rules the market. The company that proves its competence gains maximum number of clients.
The stores and companies try out various ways of improving their customer services. They go out of their ways to find out where the drawback lies. Some managers do it stealthily but the smarter ones hire someone else to do the job. Mystery shopping service is one of the mysterious ways of building the relationship with the customers.
Telephone mystery shopping is another aspect of mystery shopping that ensures that the customers' calls are attended well and their queries are answered properly to rectify their confusions. The procedure is the same; a mystery caller would call up in the store and gather the valuable information regarding employees' performance.
Telephone mystery shopping is the most reliable source of gauging the customer services over the phone. If the managers themselves call in the store there are chances that they may get caught or their findings could be biased. Whereas a thorough professional mystery shopper would definitely know the ways to carry out the survey so that the best results are obtained in the end. They take large sample of calls, gage specific aspects, and study data in ten different ways.
Good phone service is the key to customer satisfaction. Picking up the phone and inquiring about the type of products and services offered is the general practice among the customers. To answer these calls appropriately you need skilled and trained customer care professionals in your shops and stores.

Mystery Shopping. (n.d.). Retrieved 2011, from Mysterious Way To Improve Customer Care:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Employee Satisfaction

An employee survey provides an organization or business with the information to understand employee perceptions of their work environment. How employees perceive their employer’s attitudes and actions is critically important to management if they want to retain a motivated and happy workforce.
Smart employers regularly utilize an employee job satisfaction survey, an employee exit interview survey, and occasionally use surveys to ask employees about their attitudes, suggestions, and preferences.  Employee surveys are also useful to collect information or employee feedback as to the effectiveness and usefulness of employee training and informational meetings. Employee surveys can reveal unfounded and potentially dangerous rumors which are circulating among employees. Employee surveys should be considered to solicit employee input before initiating organizational change or changes in employee work rules, pay or benefits.
The data from an employee survey provides the employer with useful information to keep the organization on the right track. No one knows better the strengths and weaknesses of an organization and its management and then the employees who are responsible for delivering the employer’s product or service. The employees know what is working and what could work better. They are your greatest information resource. A survey allows an employee to share their concerns and perceptions with you in a safe environment. Employees who might never have the nerve to speak up in a large meeting or stop by your office to share an insight or observation will often be comfortable offering their thoughts in a well constructed survey. This is especially true if the employees know from your past actions that you will seriously consider their input.

20 October 2009. <>.

Benefits of Customer Satisfaction

For all companies, their customer satisfaction is the most important thing. Companies need to really make sure that they give the best services to improve customer satisfaction and increase their sales at the same time. Throwing promotional products, giving special gifts for valued customers, and provide good comforts for the customers are several ideas that companies should do to increase their service to satisfy their customers. However, it is sometimes hard to measure customer satisfaction. It is crucial to have exact numbers that show their customer satisfaction rate. It will be important to do some research or to conduct surveys to see the accurate numbers. The numbers will be beneficial to use for determining the next steps and programs that companies have to create.
Companies will need to use a professional service to do customer satisfaction surveys. The survey will result important information about the feedback of such companies. Customers’ feedback will help companies to evaluate their performance. Both negative and positive feedback will be important for company future. Improvement and development will be done under several evaluations. Without clear customer satisfactions, it will be hard to make any movements.
For many reasons, customers are the power for all companies. Therefore, they should optimize their customers for reaching success. Due to such importance, it should be crucial for companies to consult the best quality improvement services that offer several excellent programs to help companies improve their business strategies and marketing plans. Customer Satisfaction Surveys should be the regular program of all companies and they should use professionals such as, Instant-Replays to complete such programs.

Christina, Anita. Thinking Buisness and Finance. 16 June 2011. <>.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Peek Into the World of Video Mystery Shopping

Slowly but surely, a new specialty is gaining momentum in the mystery shopping industry—video mystery shopping.

What is video mystery shopping? It’s the same as any other mystery shopping assignment except the mystery shopper carries hidden miniature video equipment—the old Candid Camera show meets mystery shopping. The employers then use this tape to provide further training to their employees. It can also be included in their performance evaluation. Of course this makes both the shopper and the client highly accountable.

During a video mystery shop the shopper will do many of the same types of things you do in a regular mystery shop. They will ask questions of employees, engage them in conversations and record their responses. They may even record images of the sales floor and service areas.
An advantage of video over written reports is that the client can see exactly what happened, and not have to rely on the written impressions of the mystery shopper. The employee who was shopped can view the tape and see exactly how they come across to customers.

The video equipment is easily hidden. The camcorder and battery pack are usually worn on a belt or carried in a purse. The camera itself it so small that it can be hidden in a button or a piece of jewelry.

Audio taping of mystery shops has been around for awhile, but video mystery shopping is just now starting to come into its own and for your benefit, Instant Replays specializes in video mystery shopping. The client is able to see cleanliness, body language, hear voice inflection amongst other important communication aspects that the recorders are able to capture.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Obtaining Valuable Business Information

Surveys are one of the primary vehicles for collecting the information businesses need. Done right, surveys can reduce new product and other risk; generate insights about employees, customers, and markets; and align PR, advertising, and other communications programs with target constituencies. Done poorly, they can derail strategy and generate misguided marketing, customer service, and communications plans. Your business—and your business strategy—is only as good as the information you have. So how do you ensure that a survey will give you the information you need? First, you have to identify what you are looking for and understand just what surveys can—and cannot—do.
Generally, corporate surveys seek to understand markets, relationships, or transactions, says Frederick C. Van Bennekom, author of Customer Surveying: A Guidebook for Service Managers. Market surveys seek opportunities and requirements for offerings. Customer and employee surveys typically explore relationships, identifying both strengths and areas for improvement. Transaction surveys can operate as a quality control check, revealing the perceived effectiveness of a purchase or service call.
Surveys demand well-defined objectives, a good match of the intended communication to the medium, and clear presentation of results. What problem will the results solve, or how will the results be incorporated into decisions or operations? "Many make the mistake of starting to write questions without spelling out objectives," says Roberta L. Sangster, chair of the survey review committee for the American Statistical Association, based in Alexandria, Virginia. Without an objective as a beacon, questions can lack relevancy, surveys can turn into swamps of complexity, and results can fail to illuminate issues.

Wreden, Nick. Using Surveys to Get the Information Your Business Needs - Survey Says? Identify Your Objectives. 4 11 2002. <>.

Why Customer Surveys are Important

A customer satisfaction survey is a very important tool that can provide benefits for businesses of every size. Surveys can assist business decision-makers in developing strategies to achieve the all-important goal of gaining and retaining customers. Results can play a key role in identifying areas of the business that require corrective action and improvement. Surveys can also identify areas that can be leveraged to achieve business growth and expansion.
Small businesses can gain extremely useful information. For example, a small restaurant owner, new to the area, can find out how customers found them, what they like and whether they'll come back for more. A clothing boutique owner can find out if styles align with the tastes of shoppers and, if not, make inventory adjustments. A tax preparer can assess if fees, turn-around-time, referrals, or hours and location are helping or hurting efforts to gain and retain customers. Larger businesses have levels of managers and executives who usually don't have direct, one-on-one contact with customers. Surveys provide data and feedback to monitor customer satisfaction levels and assess employee performance in fulfilling management objectives and goals. Surveys can be executed to target specific customers by demographics, by geography, marketplace needs and more.
Customer surveys are conducted in different methods by different companies or business establishments. Some of the most popular methods used in customer surveys include:
Face-to-face interviews
Telephone survey questionnaires
Mail survey questionnaires
Telephone interviews
Field service interviews or questionnaires
Customer complaints data from interviews and questionnaires
Purchase-point survey questionnaires
It is vital to target the right individuals. For example, if the customer is a company rather than an individual then the questions must be designed to suit it. The questions on the survey should be able to be answered in way that the business can take action to make changes based on the answer. Remember, the bottom line is all about improving your prosperity or success of your business by improving your customer satisfaction

Munson, Cheryl. Importance of Customer Satisfaction Survey . 1999-2011. <>.

Survey Variety

      The growth of the internet and in particular the World Wide Web has led to the extended use of electronic mail for business communication, the electronic survey is becoming a more widely used survey method. Electronic surveys can take many forms. They can be distributed as electronic mail messages sent to potential respondents. They can be posted as World Wide Web forms on the Internet, and they can be distributed via publicly available computers in high-traffic areas such as libraries and shopping malls. In many cases, electronic surveys are placed on laptops, and respondents fill out a survey on the laptop rather than on paper. Advantages of using the internet to administer surveys would be that the recipient is able to receive the survey in seconds, it is cost effective, and a wider base of participants can be reached and given the opportunity to answer in a timely manner.

Oral surveys are considered more personal forms of survey than the written or electronic methods. Oral surveys are generally used to get thorough opinions and impressions from the respondents. Oral surveys can be administered in several different ways. For instance, in a group interview, as opposed to a group administered written survey, each respondent is not given an individual questionnaire. Instead, the respondents work in groups to answer the questions together while one person takes notes for the whole group. Another more familiar form of oral survey is the phone survey. Phone surveys can be used to get short one word answers (yes/no), as well as longer answers. Some advantages of using oral surveys include; the administrator’s ability to control the response rate and to answer any questions participants have about the survey.

Written surveys are another way to obtain useful feedback for business. There are 3 types of written surveys; Mail, group, and drop-off surveys. Mail surveys don’t limit the business and allow them to reach a large sample of people. Mail surveys are inexpensive to administer and they are convenient for the respondent because they are able to respond at their leisure. The group administered survey allows a high response rate and the administrator is able to get results in a set time and space. A drop-off survey is similar to a mail survey in that it is convenient for the respondent, but the administrator is able to describe the importance of the survey when it is dropped off. 

University, Colorado State. Writing Guide: Survey Research . 1993-2011. <>.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mystery Shopping Used as an Excellent Research Tool

Mystery shopping is becoming more acceptable as a market research tool with each passing day. It originated as a method to find out how happy consumers are with retail companies as well as find out how effective their employees go about their duties but it's now been adopted even by airline companies, auto dealerships, restaurants and many other companies. Companies employee secret shoppers to provide feedback on how effective their employees are in customer services and how much they appreciate their companies.

Mystery shopping is a method used to find out how excellent their customer service is. Mystery shopping is an easy way to get the best out of your customer service employees in order to satisfy your customer needs and help boost profits through increased sales.
Many firms have mystery shopping departments for employing mystery shoppers for their range of companies. Critics believe that mystery shopping is one of the best options when it comes to market research because the shoppers always talk about specific aspects of the companies exactly as they see it just like any ordinary shopper and they can't be noticed by other shoppers as well as company employees.
Squidoo. (2011). Retrieved from Mystery Shopping- A Research Tool:

How Mystery Shopping Differs from Market Research

Mystery shoppers must follow specific guidelines on what to do during an evaluation and shop at specified locations they may not normally visit. Marketing research study participants are not given evaluation guidelines in advance.

Mystery shopping is typically more operational in nature than marketing research and is most often used for quality control, training and incentive purposes. Marketing research is used most often to determine real customer and prospect opinions, perceptions, needs, and wants.

Mystery shoppers are recruited based on specific profiles that closely match a company's real customers. Marketing research study participants are sampled at random from a qualified population to represent a larger population.

Mystery shoppers are asked to be objective and explain observations. Marketing research study participants are encouraged give their subjective opinions freely.

Michelson, M. (2003, November 1). MSPA North America. Retrieved from

Mystery Shopping and Market Research Benefit Each Other

The reason market research is so important to mystery shopping is because mystery shopping is such a popular and important tool used in market research. Some of the largest employers of mystery shoppers are market research companies who have been hired to discover how everyday customers view a company’s services and products. Simply put, it is very common for mystery shoppers to work directly for a market research company rather than a specific business. Mystery shoppers conduct field research for market research companies who then use their feedback to report back to the client.

Mystery shopping is a market research tool this is being used more and more. For example, a study conducted on hospitals showed that patient satisfaction played an important role in the distribution of salaries for administrators. More so than in years past when patient satisfaction wasn’t a factor in determining salaries and administrators had less motivation to provide good customer service. By using mystery shoppers, these levels of satisfaction can be measured. It might mean that a mystery shopping report to a market research company could directly influence how a hospital communicates with its administrators about customer service. In essence mystery shopping, while an important tool for market research, is ultimately used to improve business for customers. (2011). Retrieved from Mystery Shopping and Market Research:

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Interesting Article on Exit Surveys

You know that getting to know your customer is important, but how do exactly do you do that? This is where what is known as an ‘exit survey’ or ‘comment card’ is invaluable. It stands to reason that if your customer is your most valuable asset, then speaking directly with him is a powerful tool. Not only will you gather information about who your customer is, but you will then be able to communicate with them, sending out promotions and information that will be invaluable for building a fruitful relationship. Don’t forget, it’s easier (and cheaper) to market to existing customers than to new ones, so this customer database will become invaluable. Keep adding to your database with EVERY customer and potential customer. No matter what business you are in, you can, and should, find a way to speak with your customer at the end of any interaction. Find out from your customer’s perspective what you are doing right and what you need to improve on.
         Exit surveys are a surprisingly simple and effective marketing tool to do this. Essentially they are mini surveys given at the end of the customer’s time with you. Give them to a customer with an invoice, after a service rendered, or while they are waiting for their bill.  Where possible, have staff hand the survey to clients in person and explain that you would like to hear their thoughts about their experience. You may incentivize it with a chance to win something, but to make it simpler you can just ask people sincerely to give their thoughts. Most people are delighted to give their opinion, especially the people who have enjoyed their experience with you (who are, after all, your best customers and the ones you are going to want to develop a relationship with) or unsatisfied customers (who you will want to appease in order to reduce negative word of mouth). Make sure that your staff understands what the survey is for (to better understand the customer and meet his needs).
      Use the information at weekly staff meetings to gauge performance, praise staff and discuss problem points. Send unhappy customers an offer to come back and give you another try; it is amazing how powerful an unhappy customer that you have turned around can be for spreading great word of mouth.
Add this information to your customer database and use it to refine your knowledge and carry out marketing campaigns. Filter customers by different criteria and look for opportunities. Test follow-up campaigns to encourage repeat customers. Send an email or postcard, thanking the customer for their business with an offer for the next time they do business with you.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Mystery Shoppers Offer Businesses Valuable Information

Statistics have shown that as much as 90% of customers who are unhappy will not say anything directly to the service but default immediately to competition. Repeat business is perhaps one of the most important aspects to a thriving company and therefore mystery shopping helps to examine this.
Additionally after price the greatest factor between competitors is customer service.
Mystery shopping helps monitor that service. Statistically speaking 69% of customers will leave a business due to poor customer service. Therefore, customer service is an incredibly important factor for businesses to measure.

Mystery Shopping is a Growing Industry

Mystery Shopping now represents a billion dollar industry worldwide and is used in countless countries. In 2004, the MSPA (Mystery Shopping Providers Association) conducted one of the first tests to quantify how many businesses were using mystery shopping. Over 8.1 million mystery shops were conducted and the businesses that employed mystery shopping as a market research technique saw on average growth of over 10%.

Many Industries Use Mystery Shoppers

Any business that wants to measure the satisfaction around a product, service, facility or operation can employ the use of mystery shoppers.
This means that mystery shoppers aren't always "shopping" but also experiencing a service or attending an event. In any venue where it might be helpful for a business to hear how their service is viewed from a customer standpoint is an area where mystery shopping can be a beneficial tool. For example: Home Builders, Property Management (Apartments), Senior Living Facilities, banks, theatres, car dealerships, hospitals, concerts, shopping malls, retail stores, call centers, hotels, restaurants, parks, gyms, spas, franchising operations, government organizations, churches and airlines. The list is seemingly endless as it becomes obvious there are many more instances where mystery shopping is used in market research.

Mystery Shopping goes hand-in-hand with Market Research

Mystery Shopping goes hand in hand with market research. Market research as it applies to mystery shopping is defined as the examination of the whims and behavioral preferences of consumers and how these preferences affect business.
Mystery shopping reports offer comprehensive information on how consumers are reacting to different marketing campaigns, store designs, promotions, etc. Mystery shoppers are essentially the connector between consumers and business. They provide the client the ability to see the interaction through the “Customers Eyes”.  In reporting their experiences they help businesses understand how efficiently they are presenting themselves and their products to customers. Mystery shoppers thus, are an important market research tool and often spark changes from businesses when reports reflect negatively on a specific aspect of the customer-business relationship.

The History of Mystery Shopping

Mystery shopping saw its start in the 1940s. When it began, it was used primarily in banks and retail stores to assess the integrity of the employees working there. Mystery Shoppers would pose as employees in an attempt to discover if any store employees were stealing or compromising the success of the company.

Today, mystery shoppers use materials that include questionnaires and audio/video recording equipment to document their experiences. Materials that are far more advanced than when mystery shopping began and evaluations were based on the word of the shopper.

As the industry grew into the 80's and 90's it expanded rapidly because of the presence of the Internet. Companies began cornering the market in terms of mystery shopping and businesses stopped hiring individuals to evaluate their businesses and instead turned to these mystery shopping/market research companies for the service. Now, most mystery shoppers can find work online via these companies who train, and provide work for them.   Today mystery shoppers provide customer service information for any industry.
Today mystery shopping offers a much broader service to the company in which it investigates than it did years ago. It is used more as an indication of customer service and satisfaction rather than simply a method for policing bad employees. As such, mystery shopping has boomed into a $1.8 billion dollar industry that exists worldwide. Companies all over the world turn to mystery shoppers to help them evaluate how customers view their business and products. In today's world with so much mystery shopping being done via the Internet, the turnaround for assessments and information is quicker and more comprehensive, making mystery shopping an industry that is sure to continue growing.