A standard practice that goes back to as early as the 1940′s, mystery shopping is a marketing tool that is of importance on various levels. Generally, a company serves as the client of the mystery shopper. The latter is hired either as a part of another company providing such service or on individual basis. Upon the agreement to engage in this endeavor, both parties are liable to each other. The specifications of the whole project are thoroughly discussed in a written document to ensure the legality of the whole transaction.
Though not a legal document, it is essential for both parties to have a survey model to serve as a guide for the mystery shopper. This is usually drawn up by the company hiring the mystery shopping service but must be agreeable to the shopper himself as well. Information regarding the client’s company as well as the specific areas for observation are just some of the basics in this model. A large portion of the survey model revolves around evaluating the employees of the client company. However, it does not end there as other aspects of the company’s operation are also assessed. These include, but are not limited to, availability, quality and variety of products, their prices and the overall assessment of the business place.
At a glance, anyone can quickly say that mystery shopping exists for the client company’s benefit. Technically, it was developed for that purpose. It is, however, significant to the society as a whole. For one, and probably the most important reason, it provides an area of improvement for the products and services offered by the company to its customers. The whole ordeal is fun since it involves shopping, which is definitely a fun way to spend one’s time.
However, it is must to note that this task is of serious nature. Not everyone can be a mystery shopper as it requires a certain set of skills such as objectivity in assessing, being detail-oriented and the likes. Maintaining an unobstructed perspective and being able to communicate effectively are also necessities of anyone who wishes to get into mystery shopping.
With the reports provided by the mystery shopper, a company is able to acquire the most reliable information regarding the operation of its business. It is easy for staff to act nicer with their customers when they see their boss around. With a mystery shopper in the house though, there is no way they can know, and they therefore end up with their rawest behaviors in dealing with customers. Using the assessments done by the shopper, the company and its owner are able to single out the problematic aspect of their business, be it a rude staff or an ineffective item on sale.
They are able to eliminate such negative factor from their operation and in the process, they make the lives of their customers more pleasant. In the end, it is actually a win-win end for the business and its customers as when the latter are happy with what they are getting, then the former end up with more sales and money.
In the 1940s, mystery shopping was primarily used in retail stores and banks to evaluate the employee’s integrity. Private investigators mingle with regular employees as if they are one of them, to check whether they are putting their employers in jeopardy. As it evolved through the years, it has become an industry whose aim is to evaluate customer satisfaction and help its client improve their business. In the 1980s, the rapid expansion of the industry was because of the internet.
Instead of hiring individual investigators, businesses started turning to market research companies to do the assessment. Now, more and more companies employ mystery shoppers through these mystery shopping providers for customer service information. The scope provided by mystery shoppers has expanded that it included churches, housing services, and even government-run organizations like park services, hospitals and law enforcement facilities. The service being offered does not only provide the company an indicator of customer service and fulfillment but it has also helped in penalizing abusive employees. This is probably the reason why it has boomed into a multi-million dollar industry worldwide.