In the current times of cut-throat competition, with marginal difference in the selling price of any product/service; the only thing that gets preference is how good a brand is in providing great consumer experience. Brand loyalty is essentially what every business is after. Their customers are usually forgiving when they get it wrong with the odd product or service.
Most brands strive for the success of computer giant Apple and hence there is an increased focus on training of the front line sales executives and managers. They need to remain customer focused and translate all their experience and learning in what the organization expects them to deliver to their consumers.
Brands have always struggled to measure the quality of the consumer experience delivered by its front line brand representatives. An effective tool to do this is Mystery Shopping.
Mystery shopping has been around since the 1940s and is a tool that was used predominately by market research companies. Nowadays it’s also used by watchdog companies like consumer advocacy groups and internally by companies themselves. The goal of mystery shopping is to gain specific information about a product or service. The mystery shoppers identities and purpose are not revealed and they are tasked with a role that has specific tasks that include purchasing a product or service, asking questions and registering complaints. The methodology of mystery shopping is outlined clearly in wikipedia as well as it’s history, development, ethics, and growth.
In summary the execution methodology of mystery shopping involves a trained shopper, who exactly fits into the customer profile of the brand, walking into the designated shop and critically examining various touch points that lead to a great consumer experience like:
The experience at each of the touchpoint is recorded both quantitatively and qualitatively and then an actionable report is generated for the brand to take appropriate corrective & preventive action.
Mystery Shopping is a versatile tool and can be effectively used across various retail outlets including exclusive outlets, shop-in-shops, multi-brand outlets and more. Success is achieved in the expert delivery of the process. All the mystery shoppers are performing the same tasks so the data collected and analysed is comparing apples with apples so to speak. It’s role is gauge the overall value provided to the consumer. The feedback is not supposed to be used to dismiss staff however it is not an uncommon occurrence. The good news is there are professional guidelines and ethics standards for the Market Research industry namely: ISO.
Amit Bakshi, Business Head – Market Research, Mystery Shopping & Audits at Channelplay Limited and in my next blog I will get deeper into each of the above points, so keep in touch.