What is a mystery shopper?
Mystery shoppers are consumers hired to enter a business and interact with employees. They might browse as any customer would or have a specific scenario to test, such as interacting with an employee, making a certain purchase, returning an item or posing as a difficult customer. Mystery shoppers may also interact with employees over the phone instead of in-store. Employees are unaware that a mystery shopper is anything but a typical customer.
After their consumer experience, the mystery shopper fills out a survey or report providing information about their interactions and the products they saw or purchased.
What is secret shopping?
Secret shopping is the practice of using mystery shoppers to gather data about the consumer experience in regard to specific businesses. While any company can use secret shopping to understand their clients’ experiences, it’s often practiced in retail and dining establishments to assess employee interactions with consumers and the general process of buying products.
Secret shopping is usually conducted by a third-party vendor or agency who hires mystery shoppers and gives them assignments, so both the employers and employees in the business being tested are unaware of who the mystery shopper might be.
Benefits of hiring a mystery shopper
Hiring a mystery shopper can provide numerous benefits to any business owner or management team. Here are some of the most important reasons to hire a mystery shopper for your business:
1. Improve customer service
Mystery shoppers are often used to assess customer service. By reporting on their interactions with employees, mystery shoppers can inform business owners of processes, behaviors or employees who made their consumer experience positive or negative. Business owners can then use this information to implement new policies, train employees or look for certain qualities when making hiring decisions.
2. Identify problems
Hiring a mystery shopper can help you identify issues or potential hazards in your business. Quality of service, the appearance or layout of products in the store, the taste of the food and any other aspect of shopping in your establishment will likely seem different from a consumer’s perspective than your own. The honest feedback of a mystery shopper can inform you of problems so that you can take steps to correct them.
3. Increase sales
One of a mystery shopper’s most important functions is to provide data about the selling process in a store. Their experience can provide insight on how you might be able to sell more products, ranging from changing the layout of products in the store, finding out what products they liked or didn’t like or understanding how the sales techniques of employees impacted their desire to make a purchase.
4. Answer specific questions
While you can use a secret shopping service to gain a better understanding of your business, you can also task mystery shoppers with answering a question you might have. Mystery shoppers can enter your store with a specific assignment, such as assessing the ease of returning an item, gauging employee helpfulness, creating a conflict to test reactions, judging the efficiency of product layout or any other area or process you need more information about to improve your business.
FAQs about mystery shoppers
Here are answers to a few common questions about mystery shoppers:
Why should you hire a mystery shopper?
Hiring a mystery shopper provides you with valuable information that can be challenging to obtain any other way. Surveys of employees and regular customers may not provide the same truth and insight as a mystery shopper who is trained to assess a customer’s experience.
How much do mystery shoppers get paid?
A mystery shopper earns an average salary of $14.93 per hour. Salaries can vary depending on experience and location, and shoppers may get paid per job instead of per hour or only receive reimbursement for their purchases.
How are mystery shoppers trained?
Secret shopping agencies typically provide general in-house training for their mystery shoppers and may give specific training for certain assignments. There are also several organizations that offer certifications for mystery shoppers.