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.