Businesses use many research tools to assess and improve their customer experience. But, there is one method worth trying for your business. That is mystery shopping. The method involves sending anonymous shoppers to stores to observe and evaluate employees’ performance, product layout, and other aspects of the stores. At the end of this visit, test shoppers provide an unbiased report to the business operators based on their experiences and provide actionable insights to improve overall customer experience in stores.
The success of a covert shopping program depends upon many factors. Designing an effective program requires careful planning and consideration to achieve desirable outcomes in this research. Let us see the 7 crucial factors to keep in mind when designing this program:
- Define Clear Objectives
Before designing this program, it is essential to define clear objectives. Determine the specific areas of the customer experience you want to evaluate and improve, such as employee performance, service quality, or store ambiance. Clearly defining these objectives help shoppers provide actionable feedback and help in meeting your goals.
- Develop Realistic Scenarios
Crafting realistic scenarios is vital for a fruitful secret shopping experience. Create scenarios that reflect typical customer interactions by covering a range of possible situations. This includes assessing how employees handle complaints, upselling techniques, and adherence to company policies. By adopting realistic scenarios, you can collect accurate insights into your employees’ performance and identify areas that need improvement.
- Recruit Professional Shoppers
A successful mystery shopping program requires a pool of professional shoppers. Recruit professionals who can observe and extract details while remaining disguised as real shoppers. Moreover, you can recruit shoppers who closely resemble your target audience to gain quality insights into how actual customers experience inside the stores. With the help of actionable insights, you can tailor services that suit your customers’ needs.
- Train Shoppers Effectively
Gathering accurate and reliable data is crucial for your business. But, acquiring comprehensive data is not possible without hiring trained shoppers. Train shoppers with detailed instructions on evaluation criteria, reporting formats, and any specific expectations to follow in this research. Ensure shoppers understand their role and the program’s objectives. Properly trained shoppers are better equipped to assess the customer experience and provide valuable feedback that matters to your business.
- Maintain Anonymity and Objectivity
Anonymity and objectivity are essential elements of this program. Shoppers should remain anonymous to employees, as this encourages genuine customer interactions. Emphasize the importance of objectivity in the evaluations by providing unbiased feedback and suggestions to improve the identified problems. By maintaining anonymity, you can obtain honest and accurate assessments of customer service experiences, and identify areas of strengths and weaknesses.
- Establish a Robust Feedback Mechanism
The purpose of this research is to know how customers feel and think of your brand. The quality feedback from shoppers comes through the report. Design a robust mechanism that allows shoppers to provide detailed feedback on their experiences. The observation highlights both positive and negative aspects with concrete evidence. Use software to get a centralized system for collecting, analyzing, and tracking shoppers’ feedback to identify trends, patterns, and areas for improvement efficiently.
- Regularly Evaluate and Adapt
Market research is an essential and ongoing exercise for your business. It helps you to find out customer preferences and expectations through this tool. Regular evaluation helps your business to listen to customers and adapt strategies to succeed in the competitive industry. Moreover, you can analyze the data collected from this research to identify recurring issues and opportunities to implement changes accordingly. Adapting the program according to market trends to drive ongoing improvements and stay ahead of the competition.
Covert shopping program brings quality feedback and data to make informed business decisions. But, designing an effective program is a challenge for many owners. Proper planning is necessary to achieve the desired outcome in this program. By following the above steps, you can design an effective and successful secret shopping program that drives your business growth.