Monday, January 30, 2012

Why is Mystery Shopping in High Demand?

Mystery Shopping can be used in any type of business, however; the most common places being retail outlets, hotels and motels, movie theaters, restaurants, fast food restaurants, banks and credit unions, gas pumps, car dealerships, apartments complexes, health clubs, vacation clubs and hospitals. In the United Kingdom, mystery shopping assignments is even used to provide feedback on customer services provided by local authorities and other public non-profit, such as housing authorities.
When a client company hires a mystery shopping services provider company, a survey questionnaire model will be drawn up and agreed upon, to which it defines what information and improvement factors the client company wishes to put to objective measure. These are then setup into questionnaire assignments that are assigned to mystery shoppers, also called secret shoppers registered with the company.
The objective points mystery shoppers take typically are objective: number of employees in the store upon entering; the name of the employees present; how long it took before the mystery shopper is greeted; whether or not the greeting was friendly, according to objective measures. This is usually followed by registering the mystery shoppers experience with the sales employee reaction and response to the shoppers questions to find a suitable type of product, as well as the product sales claims used by the employee/sales employee/sales associate, the employee approach to attempt to close the sale. Whether the sales associate suggested any add-on items, and whether that employee invited the shopper to come back to the store to do business again. The speed of service, the overall shopping experience, cleanliness of the store and store associates, complains, store appearance, and staff grooming assessments are typically part of the mystery shopper employing agency assignment instructions for objective feedback.
MSPA is The Trade Organization for Mystery Shopping Providers,has defined a Code of Ethics and Professional Standards Agreement for Mystery Shopping Providers and for Secret Shoppers. MSPA has also defined Standards for Secret Shopping. The MSPA Standard is available in a full version and an Abstract version. The Abstract is even available in 32 languages. Other organizations such as; ESOMAS, MRS and MRA have also defined standards for Mystery Shopping. You can watch the free undercover video by MSNBC via the link at the end of this article.
A recommendation on the use of secret shopper patients by the American Medical Association's Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs was released in June 2008. The Recommendation: "Physicians have an ethical responsibility to engage in activities that contribute to continual improvements in patient care. One method for promoting such quality improvement is through the use of mystery shopper 'patients' who have been appropriately trained to provide feedback about physician performance in the clinical setting."
A scam exists; Like in any other industry,that uses the legitimate secret shopping program as a premise for fraud, where an individual is sent a bad check with instruction to deposit the check into their bank account. However; valid mystery shopping companies will never send their clients a check to cash prior to work being completed, and their advertisements will usually include a contact individual and a contact number. Checks received from mystery shopping companies should only be compensation for work performed, and should always be taken to a bank to be verified.
In conclusion: mystery shopping is a billion dollar industry that keep businesses in check. Many retailers need mystery shoppers. A Mystery Shopper gets paid to shop. We hope you've found this article about secret shopper very educational and informative. There are a number of sites and articles that can tell you a lot about Mystery Shopping.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Competitve Shopping

       There are many people and businesses out there that call around to their competition and see what kind of price scale they are offering for their products or services. Now, some people get paid to do this job and some people are doing it for their job. What is this job? Mystery secret shoppers call around or go to places and see what other business have to offer in the way of service and prices.
It is important to keep up with the competition as far as pricing goes. If you offer about the same product or service as the business across the street, you had better have about the same price or people will flock to the other place. One difference is if your product or service is way better or offers more features or benefits then you can charge more than the other guy. In some businesses the managers know each other and have built a professional rapport. They will actually look out for each other and recommend the other if they cannot help the customer in the first place. Helping each other is a great way to make sure that the customer is getting exactly what they needed.
There is only so much consumer dollar to go around and your business must be able to somehow capture that customers attention so they spend it with you. Instead of being at war with your competition, try being friendly and see where that gets you.
Mystery secret shoppers are out there, whether it be a paid position or something that your business is doing to keep up with your competition.
If you have never shopped your competition you should try it. Have someone call them and pretend to want whatever service or product they offer. Make sure the person is taking good notes so that when the call is done, you can make the comparison. Now do not forget to make sure you are comparing like items. If you offer your service for 50 dollars and the business down the street offers theirs at 45 dollars make sure you are offering the same exact service before lowering your price. Does the other place offer door-to-door service? Does the other place offer a guarantee with their product? Make sure you are comparing apples to apples and not apples to oranges.
Does it pay to have price wars with your competition? It might draw business to both of your locations if some publicity is involved. If you are friendly with your competition you might be able to think of something that will make you both some money. Put your heads together and see what you can come up with. Money is money and every business is out to get their share.
Mystery secret shoppers can help your business in other ways too. They can make sure that a business is keeping up corporate standards. Mystery secret shoppers can go to a location and make sure that certain things are being maintained and presented exactly the way the corporate headquarters wants them. Even though some corporate franchises are independently owned, they still must adhere to strict company policy in order to keep their franchises license. Now you can see what mystery secret shoppers can do for your business.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Top Five Questions to Ask Your Mystery Shopping Provider

Looking for a company to coordinate your business’ mystery shopping program but you’re feeling overwhelmed? I can’t blame you for feeling that way. There are questions to be asked. But if you’re new to the very concept of mystery shopping, you may not even know where to begin.
Here are five questions to ask the mystery shopping provider: 

1. Are they knowledgeable about, and committed to, your industry?

The answer, of course, is “they’d better be!” How would you expect a company to choose good shoppers who are qualified to evaluate your business if they don’t know the first thing about your industry? Instant-Replays specializes mystery shopping services to the following industries:
  • Home builders
  • Retail stores
  • Automobile dealerships
  • Automotive and tire services 
  • Restaurants
  • Hotels
  • Human Resources
  • Senior living

2. Can the mystery shopping provider set up actionable quality metrics?

“Actionable quality metrics?” It may sound like corporate lingo, but it’s just another way to say the results actually mean something to you. Offer you a potential edge on your competition going forward.

3. Who are the mystery shopping provider’s evaluators?

Instant-Replay's reporting system ensures that you’ll have the best, most qualified shoppers coming to your business. Once an applicant is in our system, they’re assigned a rating that fluctuates depending on how well they perform in each shop.
Many of those shoppers can provide audio/visual information that provide richer results than a plain paper report. These shoppers, in addition to writing up their experience, will be your eyes and ears.

4. Where is the data stored, and how secure is it?

Obviously, the results of your shop are highly sensitive. They could be the key to your business’ competitive advantage. Instant-Replays ensures that all results are confidential to the business. They are backed up on a secure server, and safe for you to access at your leisure.

5. Can the mystery shopping company guarantee 100% fulfillment?
There are many mystery shopping providers who can serve clients in large, urban locations like NYC, LA or Chicago. If you have stores in remote areas, however, make sure those locations get the same quality of care as the easier-to-fulfill, urban locations.  Demand 100% fulfillment for all of your locations. Good mystery shopping programs will not have a problem with that.