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Mystery Shopping

What is the point of mystery analyses?

We recommend mystery shopping, shadowing and scavenger hunts for questions concerning the quality of advice and experiences at touchpoints or along several customer journey steps.

How good is the advice given in your stores in comparison to your competitors? Do the hotline employees adhere to the guidelines given in your training? Are customers’ e-mail enquiries, which are often treated as a lower priority, answered quickly, straightforwardly and competently by your service centre? All these questions can be answered in simulated customer situations in personal contact (mystery shopping), on the phone (mystery calling) or in a written exchange (mystery mailing).

Mystery analyses supply objective facts about your own company and, where required, also about the competition. This makes it an incorruptible tool in measuring whether, for example, service levels and other instructions are being adhered to and whether your company is better or worse placed than the competition.

Mystery analyses do not replace customer satisfaction analyses solutions, but are a tool that ideally supplements the subjective customer view with standardised measured services.

Procedure of a mystery shopping project

The first step is to define the requirements and goals. For example, service standards must be defined in advance before they can be checked via mystery shopping. Then a catalogue of observations is formulated and the type of implementation is determined. The training of the testers is coordinated and the time schedule is planned. After this preparatory phase, the survey is carried out. Afterwards, the data is evaluated and actions are derived.

What possibilities for mystery analyses does intervista offer?

Mystery analyses can be designed differently depending on the particular research questions. intervista works with you to develop a concept in order to answer the important and the right questions. Where appropriate, we can also integrate a mystery analysis into a comprehensive market research concept for the purposes of quality improvement, for example by combining it with customer satisfaction analyses solutions, or by integrating the mystery analysis into a comprehensive customer experience design study.

But let’s stick with mystery analyses: First, it must be clarified which contact channel should be the focus of the analysis at all – the store, the hotline or the e-mail support? Then there are other questions to be answered in advance:

Which dimensions are to be analysed?

A mystery analysis can be very comprehensive in terms of themes, but also very focused where only specific aspects are to be tested.
Decisions have to be made regarding what is to be evaluated, be it service levels (e.g. waiting times on the hotline), the atmosphere in the shop, aspects of process quality (e.g. in the event of damages), or the technical consultancy skills of staff or their soft skills (e.g. friendliness or fairness). Thus, performance can be improved in terms of consulting, service, quality and work processes.

How should the tasks or cases be designed?

The subject orientation also determines what tasks or test cases are developed. In the simpler variation or in industries in which contractual obligations of the client do not play a role, these can be test cases requiring no client history.
In many cases, though, test cases will involve existing and/or regular customers since, after all, these customers often represent the company’s “capital”. Here a credible customer history is generally necessary in order not to arouse any suspicions as a tester.

Who are the testers?

Since creating comprehensive customer histories from scratch or faking them can involve a lot of time and effort, in many cases it makes more sense to work with real customers than with testers. These test customers, also known as scouts, must, of course, undergo intensive preparation for their task. Eventually they should be in a position to judge objectively like a “testing tool”. Our panel provides an ideal basis for recruiting such individuals. The following settings are conceivable:

  • Test purchases or test visits with trained panelists, e.g. in a store, restaurant or at a counter.
  • Test calls, e.g. to evaluate the friendliness of your employees
  • Test emails, e.g. to check the quality of your online customer service
What level of benchmarking does this concern?

Last but not least, the question arises of whether a client simply wants an evaluation of the company itself or whether the relevant competitors should also be evaluated. Mystery analyses are ideally suited to such benchmarkings – you are not reliant on finding customers from the competition who, merely by chance, have had a specific incident with the company, since these incidents are triggered through test cases. However, the rules of conduct of the market research industry must be observed, which require, among other things, that employees of competitor companies may not be used excessively for a test. We will be happy to help you carry out the study in accordance with the rules of conduct.

Patricia Lueer intervista
Patricia Lüer
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