When they hear the phrase ‘mystery shopping,’ most people think of undercover consumers with shady assignments, in department stores and restaurants up and down the country. Whilst this is an accurate representation of a single type of mystery shop, there are actually several ways in which a piece of market research like this can be conducted.
Alternatives To Video Mystery Shopping
Another very common approach is to use video cameras – they are secreted somewhere on the shopper’s person and used to film everything that happens during an assignment. There are a few very obvious benefits to this kind of shop. The first is that everything a mystery shopper reports can be verified via the video footage. The second is that this video footage can be used to help the client in question improve their customer service.
Once again, these are the two most common forms of mystery shop but they aren’t the only ones, says About.com expert Erin Huffstetler. A mystery ‘shop’ can be made over the phone, if this is an important point of contact for customers. It works in much the same way, only it is a lot easier to complete. It tends to be much easier to remain undercover, when the people you’re evaluating can’t see your face. The same duties are to be carried out – the mystery shopper must ask certain questions, pose certain problems and seek very specific solutions.
The company in question is evaluated on its ability to solve problems over the phone. This type of mystery shopping is vital when it comes to businesses like call centres, online banking services, help desks and public utilities. There are problems with this kind of mystery shop. It tends to depend on just one person – if the person on the other end of the phone is rude, unhelpful or unresponsive, it’s going to heavily skew the entire evaluation. In some cases, it is necessary to perform a home based mystery ‘shop’ or evaluation, say the experts at MomAdvice.com. For example, when looking for a cleaning company, or a childminder. These are services that have to be assessed in your own home – you must invite the client that is under review to attend an appropriate location. After they have completed the ‘call out’ service, you can evaluate the quality of their work and their communication with you, the customer. At this point, it should be clear that there are many ways to carry out a mystery evaluation.
It does not have to revolve around a staged shop, or around the video footage of that staged shop. The right type of market research for your business will entirely depend on what you sell and how you sell it. It may even be that you lose control of how the evaluation will unfold, once you’ve paid for an agency like Tern to covertly evaluate your operation. This is all part of maintaining the air of mystery that has to surround this kind of impartial market research. Visit tern.co.uk for information and advice on the range of options available to you.
Don’t be afraid of the way in which mystery shopping works – it has to work this way, or it would not be useful to you. It’s natural to be nervous about the issues that it might throw up, but isn’t it better to be aware of these issues as soon as they present themselves? That way, you can tackle them in a proactive and practical fashion.
Author Bio: Tanya Cooper is a part time journalist and a part time mystery shopper. For the best quality mystery shopping and market research solutions, she recommends Tern. She can usually be found working on an article, or completing undercover missions in the town centre.