Evaluating your own business performance is no easy task. You have to study your sample size, formulate a scorecard, select the evaluators, oversee the visits, review and collate the data gathered, and interpret the collected information. It’s a long process that would require you to build a team specifically tasked to address all these needs.
Why go through all the hassle when you can just hire help from a professional mystery shopping agency like SeeLevel HX to do the evaluations? Not only will you save resources in doing so but also have the assessment handled by an expert in market research.
Handing it to the Professional
Below are some of the reasons why hiring a professional mystery shopping agency is way better than doing things on your own when assessing business performance.
1. Assess employee performance
One of the primary objectives of getting a professional mystery shopping service should be to improve sales through excellent customer service.
And how do you improve customer service? By properly training staff who are your brand representatives! In doing so, you’ll be able to increase customer retention as employees provide them with exceptional customer experience (CX).
But are you sure that your employees are doing their jobs in representing your brand? Getting the opinion from someone who is already within the team may create distrust between them. They may believe there’s a favorite among the group who has been chosen by the management to spy on all of their movements, or they may simply reject the program and its findings altogether.
A mystery shopper is perfect for assessing employee performance in a discrete and unbiased manner. You can give them a list of things to look for that will give you an idea of how customers are being assisted during work hours.
Whether you’re secretly evaluating employee performance for rewards or for training improvements, the feedback from mystery shopping services is invaluable.
2. Gain the objective perspective of a third party
The most significant advantage of hiring a professional mystery shopping service is this: looking at your business through the eyes of a customer. The way your staff deals with customers represents how the whole business treat their consumers.
Some say that customer service has become more important than product quality and that consumers are willing to pay more for a brand that will provide them a better customer experience.
How knowledgeable are your employees about the products or services you are selling? How do they deal with difficult customers? Do they take breaks too long or work overtime every day? A typical customer may not pay attention to this level of detail, making them the wrong choice for gathering information.
You won’t know if the level of customer service you provide is as good as you expect it to be. Only a mystery shopper will give you a clear view of what’s really happening on the ground.
Using your own employees to pretend to be mystery shoppers creates biased results. They may not be comfortable telling you the truth and instead give you answers that they know you want or expect. In addition, they may hesitate to point out things that are lacking since this may result in additional work on their part.
With a professional mystery shopper, you’ll gain the perspective of an outsider who won’t hesitate to share anything they observe on their visit. It’s their job to write down everything they see, hear, smell, taste, and touch during the brand interaction to represent the actual human experience.
3. We have the numbers
In any research, the reliability of measurement depends on the sample size. The bigger the sample size, the more accurate the results become.
Don’t think that hiring a single mystery shopper – or even 10 – would be enough to gather reliable data that closely represents the consumer population you’re serving. Businesses usually hire hundreds to \thousands of mystery shoppers each month in order to represent the actual consumer base as closely as possible.
Having a large number of mystery shoppers also prevents your employees from recognizing the faces that frequent your stores. Familiarity will just compromise the anonymity of secret shoppers, resulting in invalid results.
Before you perform any changes based on the data you get from the mystery shopping program, make sure that the data you are using is valid and comes from a reasonable sample size. This way, you won’t be basing a critical business decision based only on a handful of feedback.
4. Demographic variation
Businesses must always be prepared to face all kinds of customers and provide the same level of service to each and every client without any kind of bias. By hiring mystery shoppers that come from a diverse background, you replicate the randomness present in the general consumer population.
A sample size that consists of a handful of people that within certain criteria can create inconsistent results. Unless you deliberately filter the sample to measure specific campaigns, it’s best to make the participants as varied as possible. It would be bad practice to select mystery shoppers from a very specific demographic when you want to replicate the randomness of the general population. Doing so will create unwanted imbalances that will skew the results of the study.
In certain studies, though, companies can choose the demographic they want to test their new product or service. This is when diversity is given the least priority in order to obtain controlled results.
Your business may only be interested in a specific consumer demographic to test newly launched programs or products. Only a professional mystery shopping service like SeeLevel HX can also provide this kind of requirement.
We have a wide range of mystery shoppers coming from different socio-economic backgrounds, genders, employment status, age, and ethnography. Whether you want a large sample size that has random participants or one that fits your specific criteria, only a professional mystery shopping agency can keep up with either requirement.
5. We have a vast network of secret shoppers
It’s difficult to conduct store assessments when you have a number of locations spread throughout the country. Only a mystery shopping agency has the capability to cover shops located in different parts of the country.
Mystery shopping agencies usually have a number of secret shoppers located in every state. These shoppers are familiar with the local environment, making them perfect candidates for assessing user experience.
With more than half a million mystery shoppers registered in our panel, SeeLevel HX is able to execute a widespread mystery shopping program on any number of shops you have across North America.
6. Evaluate shop conditions
Customers are disappointed when the item they’re looking for is out of stock. Mystery shoppers can assess how fast a store restocks their inventory and report the findings to your management for immediate action.
How are the items arranged inside the shop? Do customers need assistance to get them or are they shelved in a way that they can be easily reached? Mystery shoppers can assess inventory shelving and overall shop organization and record anything out of place so it can be resolved as quickly as possible.
How is the cleanliness and overall appearance of your shops? It’s your employees’ responsibility to make sure the store is clean every day. A customer picking up dusty merchandise will be reluctant to purchase it, thinking it’s old and has been sitting there for years.
Mystery shoppers can also be tasked to assess whether the shop is observing health and safety precautions.
7. In-depth reports
Mystery shopping agencies like SeeLevel HXdo more than just tally the ‘yes’ and ‘no’ answers on surveys. We use tools and metrics that allow us to accurately measure customer experience and behavior.
SeeLevel HX is more than just a mystery shopping service provider. We’re also the most trusted market research company in the United States. We are able to synthesize data to formulate comprehensive reports on the human experience.
We don’t just scratch the surface with simple survey data. We dig deep into human behavior to determine what people want, need, and expect from your business. Using the gathered info, we formulate actionable insights you can actually use in developing programs for CX enhancement.
8. Know more about your competition
Mystery shopping programs can be utilized to spy on your competitors. They’re often used by companies to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their rivals. Knowing these, you can formulate programs, release new products, or improve CX efforts to get ahead of the race.
Gathering intelligence on your competition also allows you to benchmark your performance in the industry. You’ll know if your prices are within the market average and how unique your offers are in the market.
9. Gauge online CX
Businesses are now required to have a presence in online channels, including the most popular social media platforms. They need more than just their business websites because people expect to get in touch with them over Facebook, Twitter, and similar applications.
How do you measure the effectiveness of these online platforms? Do they affect your brand in a positive or negative way? How different is the customer experience you provide in face-to-face interactions compared to online communications?
Using surveys to answer these questions is inefficient and unreliable. Online questionnaires are often disregarded by customers since they see them as a waste of time and effort.
The only way to assess the effectiveness of your online channels is by having a professional mystery shopper test it. You can have them order online, make calls, fill out contact forms, send emails, or chat with your social media handler to determine whether you are providing the expected level of CX to consumers.
Mystery shoppers play a vital role in assessing brand performance. They can give unbiased reports on how your shops are really doing in the eyes of an everyday customer. The way mystery shopping agencies thoroughly examine customer service experience is what makes them invaluable to any business in any industry who wants to improve their relationship with consumers.
SeeLevel HX is equipped with the appropriate metrics and personnel to evaluate the customer service performance of your business and more. If you need mystery shopping and market research services, we are the right people to get in touch with.