Although it began as a minor survey exercise decades ago, mystery shopping has evolved into a multi-billion dollar industry. And the staggering dollar figures increase each year as businesses raise their customer service level to remain competitive and maintain their market share.
Most people think that mystery shoppers only evaluate retailers and restaurants. But mystery shopping campaigns are implemented in practically every type of business that deals with the public, such as movie theatres, supermarkets, clinics, hospitals, churches, government offices, universities, retirement homes, gas stations and so on.
Every business has a target demographic it caters to and secret shoppers are the most effective tools to reflect any operation’s consumer perceptions.
For example, if an airline wants an unbiased assessment of what its travellers think of their flying experience, a mystery shopper would be paid to take a return flight to evaluate and assess the service of the flight crew.
Likewise, a franchised supermarket chain looking to increase its market share could employ teams of mystery shoppers to find what areas of their operation need improvement - from the price and freshness of their food, to the cleanliness and presentation of the goods to the interaction with the cashier or bag boy.
These are just two examples but the use of a mystery shopping program can benefit every consumer-based business. From smaller independent companies to big name franchises - absolutely any business that has a product or service to sell and consumers to attract can hire a mystery shopper to improve their operation and boost their profits.
Even if your business is healthy, there is always room for improvement. Employees can perform better, techniques can be refined and processes can be enhanced. All of these can have a positive impact on your bottom line - but how do you know where those improvements need to made and how to go about implementing them? Before you can apply a solution you must know what the problem is. That’s where mystery shopping companies can help you.
Companies that most often employ mystery shopper services are in the retail and restaurant sectors. In retail, mystery shopping companies are invaluable in evaluating the performances of sales and customer service personnel - the lifeblood of any retail store. Rude or inefficient salespeople can offend your customers, causing them to go elsewhere. Detecting that behaviour by using mystery shoppers can keep your customers happy and improve your profit margins.
The restaurant industry offers perhaps the best opportunity to employ mystery shoppers to test your personnel and your entire system. Is your food good? Is the host or hostess polite and helpful? Do your waiters and waitresses know the menu and work fast and efficiently? You could even test your manager if you like by having your mystery shopper complain and see how the negative feedback is reacted to.
Mystery shopping companies provide all of these services and more. They provide an outside entity that can test the inner workings of your company for you. With this knowledge you can refine your system, upgrade personnel, or change processes so that they work more effectively. You can also provide more of what works. Many company managers feel that mystery shoppers will bring out only the negative, but they can also reveal what is positive so that you can build upon that.
For more information on how a mystery shopping program can help increase your business, visit Mystery Shopping Providers Canada.
"If you don’t take care of your customers, another business will."
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