There are many unique and engaging marketing research methodologies in the industry. One which rises to the top of the list of investigative approaches is mystery shopping. Another term for mystery shopping is secret shopping. Care to learn more about what mystery shopping involves and how the process works? You've come to the right place.
What is mystery shopping?
This is a methodology which uses a secret shopper to act as a true customer to evaluate the customer experience in-person, over the phone, or online. This mystery shopper evaluates a number of different aspects of the customer experience which can include but is not limited to levels of service, product availability, staff helpfulness, and staff knowledge. Mystery shopping is either an evaluation of internal operations or an evaluation of a competitor's operations.
How does mystery shopping work?
There are typically two approaches to mystery shopping: (1) the pre-scripted and the (2) natural experience. In the pre-scripted experience the mystery shopper is typically trained in-detail about what to evaluate, specific scenarios to test, and often sees the evaluation form that he or she needs to fill out at the completion of the mystery shop. In the more natural experience, the shopper receives basic information and is blind as to what he or she will evaluate until the experience is over.
Which approach is better?
Both approaches have their pros and cons. The pre-scripted scenarios allow the client to ensure the shopper is probing on areas they view as important to the customer experience. This can help guide the shopper and ensure data is gathered on pertinent topics. In the more natural approach, the experience is less biased and more like a true customer visit. Satisfaction ratings of the experience can be more reliable with natural shops because the shopper was not told to play out a specific scenario.
Can I have an example?
For instance, if "cleanliness of the store" was an item the client wanted to test, in the pre-scripted version the shopper may notice the dirty shelves or dust on the counters, but if the shopper went in as a natural experience, they may not have noticed those same observations because they were not told to look for "cleanliness" ahead of time.
Is mystery shopping qualitative or quantitative?
The answer is both. It is always recommended to start with qualitative research to explore the customer experience in detail. However, mystery shopping can eventually be scaled to conduct a series of shops each week, each month and each year to obtain measurable data which can be benchmarked from time-period to time-period.
How do I get started with a mystery shopping project?
Drive Research can develop a custom market research project to meet your needs. Whether your organizations needs only a few mystery shops to explore a customer experience through qualitative research or a full plan for longitudinal mystery shopping for the year, Drive Research can accommodate. Need more information? Contact us at 315-303-2040 or email our company at firstname.lastname@example.org.