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Why your business needs mystery shopping

By May 6, 2021No Comments

Why your business needs mystery shopping

  06/05/2021

Why your business needs mystery shopping

06/05/2021

What is mystery shopping?

Mystery shopping is a participant observation research method which a company may opt for to gather specific information about a market or competitor. Mystery shoppers visit service points or stores, pretend to be normal customers, observe the process of the service and, immediately after their interaction with the product and/or service, record their observations on different aspects of the experience. Most of the time,  mystery shoppers mirror common consumer behaviours to test the consistency of the habits which are believed to be important to a specific brand or industry.

Kirsten Saliba
Research Analyst

ABOUT ONEST  

Why is it needed?

Mystery shopping has become a common mode of improving customer service in retail as well as service providers. This is because it poses several advantages for a business to learn more about itself and its competitors. Thus, including mystery shopping as part of your business’s ongoing learning process becomes crucial.

Through this method, one would be able to extract the deep meaning of essentially two fundamental things:

1) Identification of a business’ weak points in its service delivery as well as the product/ service itself;

2) Assessment of the competitiveness of an organisation’s service provision by benchmarking it against the offerings of others in an industry.

Kirsten Saliba
Research Analyst

ABOUT ONEST  

What is mystery shopping?

Mystery shopping is a participant observation research method which a company may opt for to gather specific information about a market or competitor. Mystery shoppers visit service points or stores, pretend to be normal customers, observe the process of the service and, immediately after their interaction with the product and/or service, record their observations on different aspects of the experience. Most of the time,  mystery shoppers mirror common consumer behaviours to test the consistency of the habits which are believed to be important to a specific brand or industry.

Why is it needed?

Mystery shopping has become a common mode of improving customer service in retail as well as service providers. This is because it poses several advantages for a business to learn more about itself and its competitors. Thus, including mystery shopping as part of your business’s ongoing learning process becomes crucial.

Through this method, one would be able to extract the deep meaning of essentially two fundamental things:

1) Identification of a business’ weak points in its service delivery as well as the product/ service itself;

2) Assessment of the competitiveness of an organisation’s service provision by benchmarking it against the offerings of others in an industry.

How we carried this out for a client in the Financial Investment industry:

-Understanding who the client is and in what market they operate in. We first start by getting to know the client and his/her goals with the mystery shopping exercise. 

– Identifying the main competitors that the client would like to conduct mystery shopping with. 

– Identifying what information and research we need to collect: 

    • Initial interaction – approachability 
    • Explanation
    • Extra information
    • Post-meeting communication 
    • Professionalism 
    • Environment/ambience
    • Overall experience

How we carried this out for a client in the Financial Investment industry:

-Understanding who the client is and in what market they operate in. We first start by getting to know the client and his/her goals with the mystery shopping exercise. 

– Identifying the main competitors that the client would like to conduct mystery shopping with. 

-Identifying what information and research we need to collect: 

    • Initial interaction – approachability 
    • Explanation
    • Extra information
    • Post-meeting communication 
    • Professionalism 
    • Environment/ambience
    • Overall experience
  • Building and becoming the narrative. Along with the client, a narrative is agreed upon which both the client and researcher is comfortable with and that is believable. A descriptive narrative will help the researcher to better immerse themselves into the exercise and understand more clearly the point of view of the customer. 
  • Collecting information and research from the first contact with a competitor all the way up to the post-meeting communications. This starts from the first point of interaction like going on a website to book an appointment or to find contact information, to getting my first call back, up to a meeting in person as well as the post-meeting communication. Everything is noted down.
  • Running the same mystery shopping on our client. It was important to do the same with our client without them knowing that we are doing it in order to better compare any shortcomings that the brand might have. 
  • Analysis and interpretation – A common theme with analysis and interpretation is that it is iterative and occurring as soon as the researcher begins data collection, right up until the point of saturation. Each mystery shopping experience is analysed and explained on its own until then all the experiences are brought together to compare and contrast.
  • Tying up all of this research into an actionable report which looks at the different prices, service points, the overall experience and the next steps for the client.

 

The table above demonstrates how we managed to visualise the brand’s position against its competitors. This was done by giving scores to each brand according to different drivers during the mystery shopping experience.

  • Building and becoming the narrative –  Along with the client, a narrative is agreed upon which both the client and researcher is comfortable with and that is believable. A descriptive narrative will help the researcher to better immerse themselves into the exercise and understand more clearly the point of view of the customer. 

 

  • Collecting information and research from the first contact with a competitor all the way up to the post-meeting communications –  This starts from the first point of interaction like going on a website to book an appointment or to find contact information, to getting my first call back, up to a meeting in person as well as the post-meeting communication. Everything is noted down.

 

  • Running the same mystery shopping on our client – It was important to do the same with our client without them knowing that we are doing it in order to better compare any shortcomings that the brand might have. 

 

  • Analysis and interpretation – A common theme with analysis and interpretation is that it is iterative and occurring as soon as the researcher begins data collection, right up until the point of saturation. Each mystery shopping experience is analysed and explained on its own until then all the experiences are brought together to compare and contrast.

 

  • Tying up all of this research into an actionable report – This looks at the different prices, service points, the overall experience and the next steps for the client.

 

The table above demonstrates how we managed to visualise the brand’s position against its competitors. This was done by giving scores to each brand according to different drivers during the mystery shopping experience.

Future graph based on a strategy off of our findings, demonstrating where the client would like to take the brand. By analysing where the company currently stands we were able to provide the ‘next step’ for the brand to reach its goal.

Future graph based on a strategy off of our findings, demonstrating where the client would like to take the brand. By analysing where the company currently stands we were able to provide the ‘next step’ for the brand to reach its goal.

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