According to the business dictionary, a mystery shopper is a person hired by a manufacturer or a market research firm to visit certain retail stores or shops, and pretend to be a casual shopper, in order to gather information about the quality of the store’s sales staff, prices, and the store’s display. At times, organizations hire mystery shoppers to find out the pros and cons of different aspects of their businesses, and report their findings which are then analysed for ease of adaptation.
Mystery shopping is one of the tools you can use to support your customer acquisition and retention strategies, gain insight into competitor activities, and identify profit opportunities to grow your business in value and volume.
When customers walk into your store, go through the purchasing process and finally leave, you may wonder what goes on in their minds. A mystery shopper will give you an insight into the customer experience, and gauge their satisfaction. With such a report, you can identify areas that your staff need to improve on, and train them in those areas, so as to grow your organization’s customer base.
How to Use Mystery Shopping in Training: A Real Life Example
Grass Roots UK Ltd, a real estate company, used mystery shopping to launch a showroom measurement programme. They wanted a deeper insight into their customer experience, and identify areas where their staff could improve on their performance.
They selected their ideal home-buyer mystery shoppers from the Grass Roots panel. The Company noted that it was crucial that regional managers had the confidence and skills to interpret the report and train their teams. As a result, the learning arm of the company rolled out a training event to equip the managers with skills to interpret the shopper reports and coach their teams.
The learning objectives were:
- Interpret the shopper reports intelligently and accurately
- Explain the purpose of the mystery shopper programme
- Deliver shopper results to employees in a positive way
- List down what needs to be done to ensure a successful launch of the programme in their regions
- Train staff to take responsibility for actions
In a nutshell, the attention of the learning experience was on how to wrap up the hard data with soft skills to realise an improvement in performance.
The Company delivered the training in four 1-day sessions for selected personnel and all Regional Managers. The sessions were engaging and very lively, since the delivery style and structure was interactive and the content was fully tested. The results were gauged by the overwhelmingly positive feedback that was posted on the event’s questionnaire. One of them read as follows;
‘I was against mystery shopping before this course. I can now see the benefits, as long as the preparation is done with the sales advisors, and good feedback is given.’
Mystery shopping reports will not only help you improve your training processes by identifying areas where your staff lack competence, but will also give you an insight into what you should look for when hiring future employees. Grass Roots UK Ltd. gives a working example of the benefits of staff training based on mystery shopping reports.