Mystery shoppers are people that evaluate the customer service skills of all types of businesses.
Mystery shoppers (their identity is generally not known) perform specific tasks, such as purchasing a particular product while evaluating customer service and then provide detailed reporting about their experiences. In fact, mystery shopping began back in the 1940’s as a way to measure the integrity of their employees.
You may be wondering who uses mystery shoppers: market research companies, watchdog organizations and internally by companies themselves to measure quality of service and compliance to regulations. Most all industries use mystery shoppers. The most common venues are hotels, retail stores, health clubs, restaurants, banks and health care facilities. All of these industries are looking for ways to improve the customer service experience.
Once a company hires a mystery shopping company, they need to determine what improvement factors they wish to measure. For example, how quickly are customers greeted when they walk into a store? Was the greeter friendly? Is the store clean?
Once the client company determines what they want to measure, the mystery shopping company is able to draw up a survey model and those assignments are then allocated to shoppers that are registered with the mystery shopping company. After the visit, the shopper will submit the data collected to the mystery shopping company and the information will be reviewed and analyzed. Once a statistical analysis has been completed the information is shared with the client. Now the client can compare how the stores or restaurants are doing against previously defined criteria.
There are estimates that over 8 million “mystery shops” (that is, evaluations of businesses) that occur each year. Mystery Shopping is a $600 million per year business.