By George Anderson
An increasing number of retailers are hiring outside firms to send in undercover shopping agents to assess everything from how good a job a store is doing in clearing shopping carts from a parking lot to the friendliness and product knowledge of workers waiting on customers.
“Sometimes, people at corporate headquarters need to get clear, unbiased information” about what’s going on at a store, said Rodney Moll, CEO of Trendsource, a mystery shopping service. “They can’t just pick up the phone and call store 1,400 and ask ‘How are things there?’ “
Mark Isaac, marketing director and lead facilitator at the Service Quality Institute in Minneapolis told the San Diego Union-Tribune that headquarters can often learn about store management through an assessment of individuals working on the floor or at the checkout.
“Mystery shoppers can provide useful feedback when managers are not doing a good enough job” of training and motivating employees to deliver the type of service companies aspire to, said Mr. Isaac.
Delivering service is critical to both short- and long-term profitability of a store.
Helpful employees focused on the needs of shoppers can often up-sell them to a product that better fits how they will use the item when they get home or complements the merchandise they already plan to buy.
Service levels are especially critical this time of year, said David Rich, president of ICC/Decision Services. “The holiday season can really be a ‘make or break’ time for retailers. The customer service a shopper receives goes a long way to determining how often the shopper will return the following year.”
Stuart Morris, president of the QSR Consulting Group, said mystery shoppers are one of the research tools available to organizations. Services such as this are especially useful for “organizations that do not have the internal technological and human resources to accurately and inexpensively collect guest feedback,” he said.
Moderator’s Comment: What are the most effective uses of mystery shopping services? Do you see new opportunities to use mystery shoppers that are outside
the normal scope for such services? –
George Anderson – Moderator
- Holiday Shopping Survey: Mystery Shoppers Find 70 Percent of Retailers
Fail to Implement Critical Sales Techniques – dBusinessNews
- A sentry for service – San Diego Union-Tribune