The Where, When, and How
Once you have contacted the mystery shopper service how will you know when, where and how their people will be showing up or calling your place of business? It is best that you don’t know. The element of surprise is so important for a mystery shopper that no one, not even the owners or managers, should know when they are going to show up. This confidentiality will allow the mystery shoppers to do their job properly and ensure that you will get an accurate report of what goes on under normal circumstances.
A quality mystery shopper service will analyze your customers’ shopping patterns and behaviors and visit or call during your peak hours. The busiest times are when your points of contact are most strained. Your retail salespeople are under the most pressure, your callers or CSR’s are most likely to crack, and your systems and processes are most likely to break down. A mystery shopper can reveal where the weak spots are.
As far as where the mystery shoppers will show up, that is up to you as the company that hires them. If you have multiple locations you may want to have just one checked where sales numbers are low or you could leave it up to the mystery shopper company and let them decide where analysis is most useful. The service itself is about more than just doing the shopping. Every element of the experience will be recorded and put into a report that you can use to make changes if you need to.
The “how” of mystery shopping might seem pretty obvious but the exact details of who will be showing up and how they will present themselves is always kept confidential from those who work for you. Your mystery shopper might be a single person quietly picking out one item or a family doing some major shopping. For best results you might want to try both or a combination of shoppers somewhere in between.
The location, time, and dynamics of mystery shoppers are what make them a mystery, even to the people who hire them. These elements make them more effective and give you a better picture of what your employees are doing when they think no one is watching. This same erratic pattern of hitting points of contact at different times can also help you even if your company is automated, like an e-commerce company that does business using a website.