New to Mystery Shopping and Want More Information?

What is Mystery Shopping? How Will Mystery Shopping Help Our Company Improve Service and Sales? How Do You Select Your Mystery Shoppers? How Has Technology Improved Mystery Shopping?

What is Mystery Shopping?

Mystery Shopping is a term that refers to the process of assessing the performance of your employees from the point of view of the average educated consumer.

Trained Mystery Shoppers pose as potential customers in order to provide you with an objective view of your customer service and determine how closely your employees are following the training you have provided. The employee is completely unaware of the mystery shopper's true intentions and therefore the salesperson gives them the same service they provide to the majority of their customers. The mystery shopper will then complete a customized questionnaire and write a detailed written report on the entire shopping experience, enabling you to better interpret how your average consumer is being serviced.

This gives you and your employees, the opportunity to improve. Mystery shopping is the only practical method to objectively measure the effectiveness and longevity of a company's customer service levels and training programs.

How Will Mystery Shopping Help Our Company Improve Service and Sales?

Analysis of Customer Service Issues

The most important part of having a mystery shopping program is to use the results in the most constructive manner possible. Mystery shopping alone cannot improve customer service, or sales. It is imperative that the results be analyzed and used to create coaching opportunities. Mystery shopping programs with incentives attached can be far more beneficial. Linking mystery shopping results to bonuses, prizes or other incentive programs will keep the importance of the mystery shopping program at the forefront.

You analyze sales figures daily, if not hourly, searching for ways to improve these figures. But how closely do you analyze the actions that lead to increased sales figures? Do you know what percentage of the customers who enter your stores are greeted or offered assistance? Do you know what percentage of your customers are offered accessory items? Improvements in customer service techniques are directly associated with improvements in sales figures. Close analysis and follow up coaching of customer service techniques will improve customer satisfaction and consequently, improve sales figures and profits.

Opportunity for Focused Customer Service Training

You and your associates have spent a lot of time, energy and money to develop your training program and have already determined what behaviors will lead to the most satisfied customers and the most sales dollars. But are the front line salespeople utilizing these behaviors? Mystery Shopping gives you the opportunity to monitor how many of the skills in your training program are being practiced regularly by your salespeople. Mystery Shopping gives you the opportunity to see which salespeople are practicing these sales techniques. Mystery shopping gives you the opportunity to see which areas of your training program have become effective routine sales techniques and which have not. Then you can continue to coach in those specified areas, which will result in a better-trained staff, and increased sales and profits due to improved customer service, customer satisfaction, and an improved close rate.

The close rate is of course, the number of customers who make a purchase in a store divided by the number of customers who enter that same store. For example, if two out of every ten customers who come into the store, make a purchase, then the close rate is 20%. Mystery Shopping will then identify which areas of your training program need to be re-emphasized to your staff. Once this re-training has taken effect, and your employees are now managing to close 3 of every 10 customers, the close rate then improves to 30%. However, sales do not improve by only 10%, they improve by 50%. (20% to 22% would be a 10% increase). So you can imagine that even the smallest improvement in the close rate will improve your profits tremendously.

Mystery shopping will also give you the opportunity monitor how many customers are being offered accessory items, not just how many customer who are sold accessory items. By monitoring the add-on sales, you can coach accordingly and improve their accessorizing skills, which of course will increase your sales margins and profits.

Pinpoint Customer Service Weaknesses

With advertising costs so expensive and the fact that it costs 5 times more to find a new customer than to keep an existing one, customer satisfaction becomes imperative. Mystery shopping then becomes one of your best options to improving customer satisfaction. One customer at a time.

Mystery shopping is the easiest and most inexpensive way to increase sales and profitability because mystery shopping focuses on the customers who are already there. You don't have to spend more money to attract new customers with expensive advertising or additional discounts; you just need to improve your customer satisfaction rate, or your close rate, and your profit margin with focused training that our program will clearly outline for you.

You and your associates have already spent a great deal of time, energy and money to develop the image that will bring the most customers into your store. Don't allow your front line sales staff to dampen that image, and lose potential customers.

How Do You Select Your Mystery Shoppers?

Automated Online Application Process

We receive hundreds of applications each week through our website from people throughout North America. Although only a small percentage of these applicants make it through our Automated Online Application Procedure. This includes an Automated Screening Process and various Online Tests help us to ensure that ONLY quality mystery shoppers are being accepted to conduct mystery shops for our clients. We are only as good as our shoppers. We do not hire mystery shoppers simply to increase our shopper database to impressive numbers. There are many individuals who simply believe that mystery shopping is an easy way to make some quick cash. These individuals do not make it through. The qualified shoppers who do make it onto our shopper database are individuals who understand the importance of the projects, and take pride in their work.

Only 25% of Applicants Become Shoppers for Us

Approximately 25% of the individuals, who apply with us, will make it through our screening process to conduct mystery shops for our clients. We take our database very seriously. Our program and technology helps us to relay results to you, however, the initial data needs to be accurate. Maintaining a quality database of mystery shoppers ensures that the initial data is accurate. Mystery Shoppers have a shelf life, similar to salespeople. Some will start off great, then slowly decline as their interest fades. Our evaluation system ensures that we catch any declines in quality quickly, and we are able to immediately take action to ensure that these mystery shoppers are no longer able to accept mystery shopping assignments.

How Has Technology Improved Mystery Shopping?

Online Shopper Training

Advances in technology have given us the opportunity to provide a superior product to our clients as well as cut costs. Many aspects of our operational procedures which previously took days, now only takes minutes. As described above, we now utilize an Automated Online Application to populate our database of active mystery shoppers. Once a mystery shopper has been hired, they have access to our Online Training Documents, where we instruct them on the importance of the work they are about to complete, as well as other important areas such as reliability, preparation, and constructive factual feedback.

Segmented Shopper Database

One of the most complex segments of our website is the automated mystery shopping job selection process. Our shopper database is segmented so that our most highly evaluated shoppers receive the most mystery shopping jobs. The same way your best salespeople receive the most hours per week. All of our mystery shopping jobs are posted onto our internal job board, in our secure, password protected area of our website, which only our active mystery shoppers have access. However, it is important to note that once a job is posted, only our most highly evaluated shoppers have first access. After our best shoppers have gone through the assignments and chosen the shops they can complete, then our second best shoppers have access to the remaining assignments. The same way your store managers would fill out a weekly work schedule; maximizing the time of the best salespeople first, filling in the remainder with less skilled, or newer salespeople.

Online Report Submission

Questionnaires and detailed specific instructions for each mystery shopping job are then made available only to the shopper who will be in each particular store. Reports are submitted online, with results being made available to our clients immediately after the reports have been proofread. Our proofreaders check over every single report to ensure that the shopper has followed all the outlined instructions, have written a quality, fact based summary, and have not made any errors on the report. The shopper is then evaluated based on that report, which directly affects their placement on the segmented database. The better the evaluation, the sooner they can select future mystery shopping jobs. So there is an incentive for them to complete quality work.

Any reports which our proofreaders determine are not acceptable, are sent back for revisions, or re-shopped if certain criteria were not met, such as shopping the store on the specified day or time.

We Are Only As Good As Our Shoppers.

Therefore we take each report very seriously to ensure that our database is continually populated with proven, quality mystery shoppers who understand the importance of the work they are completing.

Mystery Shopping Programs and Services

1: Cost Effective Full Service Mystery Shopping Programs

  • On-Site Mystery Shopping to measure and improve customer service standards in your stores or restaurants.
  • Telephone, Email and Website Mystery Shopping to measure service standards in other ways you communicate with your customers.
  • Integrity Mystery Shopping to ensure that proper cash handling techniques are used.
  • Competition and Price Comparison Mystery Shopping to compare service standards, pricing, and generally learn more about your competitors.
  • Every detail of your mystery shopping program, handled to your satisfaction by our experienced team.

This has been our main program since 1996. We work with you to set up your program, beginning with a custom designed questionnaire, based on your training program or expectations. The questionnaire can include major categories such as store appearance, signage and visibility, customer service, sales skills, transaction skills along with any other areas of your business you would like to measure, such as extended warranties, or customer loyalty programs. We focus the questionnaire on the areas most important to you and the success of your business. We then train and schedule the assigned mystery shoppers to be able to mystery shop your stores appropriately and report back the results for your review. Graphing and analysis of the results is available, if required, or you may opt to review, graph and analyze the results into your own executive summary, using your own in-house labour force.

We can further expand your main mystery shopping program with telephone shops, website and email response shops, so you are ensuring that you are managing all areas of customer satisfaction. We can also expand your program to include mystery shopping your competition, to discover how your customers view your competitors on the same areas as your own program. This will assist you with identifying how your customer service standards compare to the competitions, and further identifying where your training needs to be focused.

2: Assistance to Run Your Own Small Mystery Shopping Program

  • We set up the in-house program for you, including the questionnaire and shopper instructions. Plus short, but detailed instructions for your personal reference, giving you everything you need to run your own small program.
  • We supply you with a list of qualified, independently contracted mystery shoppers for you to contact, liaise with, and pay.
  • Best suited for a small program.

Often smaller retailers and restaurateurs have a difficult time finding a mystery shopping provider, since their respective programs are quite small, and therefore expensive to run. We still offer our Full Service Program to small retailers and restaurateurs; however, as a welcome addition to our main program, we have found that with a little assistance, some smaller clients prefer to reduce their costs, and run their own programs in-house.

What we offer to these smaller clients is the same set up as outlined above. With your assistance, we create your questionnaire, then we train the shoppers with written documentation, supply you with a list of experienced, well qualified mystery shoppers who agree to work with you as an independent contractor, and then you email the shoppers the questionnaire and instructions, obtain confirmation, and after they shop the store, they email you the results directly for your review. You can initiate contact with the shopper if further information is required, or to clarify what was reported, and then you pay them directly.

This program is best suited for independent retailers or restaurateurs, or small chains.

3: Canadian Mystery Shopper Scheduling Assistance for US Mystery Shopping Companies

  • After appropriate confidentiality and non-competition agreements, we will schedule your client's Canadian locations using our own network of over 30,000 Canadian shoppers.
  • Our services as a Canadian Mystery Shopper Scheduling Company are very affordable. For a small, per shop fee, based on volume, we locate, contact, and schedule the mystery shoppers, forwarding your instructions and submission requirements.
  • Shoppers submit assignments using the methods and technology you prefer, including registration on your site, so that you may issue payment. For an additional small, per shop fee, we can process these payments for you, if you prefer.
  • Quotes available upon request.

Of primary importance for this program, it should be pointed out that our clientele is geographically well reflected by our name; Mystery Shopping Canada Inc. We conduct mystery shops in Canada, and Canada alone, and have developed our database accordingly to reflect this. Our network of mystery shoppers now reaches over 30,000, with shoppers in almost every city and small town across our large nation. We focus on small and mid sized chains with locations in Canada. Large US based national chains are not our target market, however we realize that many of these large US based chains have locations within Canada, and often the databases of US Mystery Shopper Scheduling Companies are not as developed as our own. Therefore, we have extended a branch of our business to operate as a mystery shopper scheduling service for US Mystery Shopping Companies, and we believe we can offer this at a savings to you. Since our database is quite extensive across Canada, your shopper fees, bonuses, incentives and mileage can all be reduced.

With appropriate and necessary contractual paperwork to help protect yourself and your clients, we then work with our scheduling department to schedule your Canadian locations. We operate in the same manner you are accustomed to working with US based mystery shopper scheduling companies. In confidence, we schedule and distribute the appropriate information for shopping and submitting the reports. And our shoppers follow your instructions for submitting the results, whether this is on your own website, Sassie, or through email. Of course, this includes having the mystery shoppers register on your website for payment directly from your company. If you prefer, we can issue shopper payments and invoice your company accordingly.

4: Corporate Online Training Program

  • The speaker for this training program is a renowned seminar leader on the subject of customer service, with over 1200 training presentations to his credit.
  • The customer service training program is online and interactive, easy to use and understand, with 24 hour a day access! Why pay for the trainer to be there in person?
  • As new employees are hired, they can easily participate in the same training program for corporate wide consistency. Available in English and French.
  • This customer service training program is available continent wide for businesses of any size.
  • Due to the nature of an online program, the program is very competitively priced. Far less than an in-person speaker.

This newest addition to our services again focuses on the small to mid sized business, although it is perfectly adaptable to any size of business. We are offering an online, interactive training program, developed by a renowned seminar leader, with over 1200 presentations to his credit. The program is segmented into 8 separately ordered modules, covering all areas of customer service, and is viewable either on a computer screen or an overhead projector screen for a larger group.

Hiring a customer service speaker to present in front of a fair sized group of retailers is not only logistically difficult for national retailers, it is also expensive, and nearly impossible to have all the customer service providers attend, and these are the people who are providing the customer service! With high turnover, the effects of the in-person customer service training presentation can wear thin, and soon, due to further employee attrition, the effects of the in-person customer service training program can be lost entirely. Having an online customer service training program gives store managers the opportunity to present the online training program to their entire current staff, repeating the same presentation for new hires, getting all staff, consistently, on the same page. Refresher courses are easily ordered for reviewing small modules of the program at important times of the year. All of this at a mere fraction of the cost of an in-person customer service training program.

This online training program is ideally suited to be coupled with a mystery shopping program, which has previously defined the customer service areas most in need of improvement. The online customer service training program is an excellent, and inexpensive, way to follow up the mystery shopping results with training.

For further information on any of our programs, you can proceed to our RFP page to request a proposal or contact our office at 1-800-752-1295.