The Mystery of Mystery Shopping Revealed

What exactly is the mystery of mystery shopping? Retailers hire mystery shoppers all the time to evaluate their staff and see if they are performing up to standards. There are no mysteries involved in this. Call centers have difficult “customers” phone their callers and put them to the test. The only mystery with that is whether the caller is a mystery shopper or just a consumer who’s having a bad day.

Perhaps the mystery is where to find mystery shoppers. Everyone knows they exist but how do you find one to help you test your system or personnel for flaws and faults. Putting either of these under pressure will almost always tell you where there is room for improvement. If there is a crack in the dam it will spread under extreme pressure. Eventually that crack will get big enough to cause a flood. That’s where mystery shoppers can help you, by preventing the flood before it affects your customers.

Here’s another mystery. What happens after the mystery shopper comes through and performs his or her duties? Do employees get fired if their performance isn’t up to par? Knowing that, does the mystery shopper temper the tone of the final report? Is it possible that the data the company receives could be incomplete or even erroneous?

These are all questions that are asked when a retailer, call center, restaurant or any other business chooses to hire a mystery shopper. Most mystery shopping companies, in order to avoid the personal influence of one individual, will send in multiple mystery shoppers and use other testing methods to evaluate whether or not a company is functioning properly. These “control” methods ensure that the flaws are detected and then subsequently corrected to improve efficiency.

The reason that mystery shoppers have that title is because no one in the store or on the other end of the phone can know what they are. This ensures that the reactions and actions of staff members are what they normally are, not a show put on for the benefit of the customer. With that in mind, everyone has a bad day from time to time, so failing in front of a mystery shopper doesn’t mean the end of a job or career. That person and that system will be tested again if you hire the right mystery shopping company.