Mystery shopping is estimated to be a $1.6 billion a year industry due to the importance of customer experience, throughout the life of a customer, and the global spotlight on customer service. Numbers vary between 600 -1,000 mystery shopping companies operating in the United States. If knowing how to select, where to begin and what constitutes a good provider feels like a mystery, I want to help.
If you’re thinking…Do I need to shop the shoppers before selecting a firm to design and implement my mystery shopping program…the answer is yes. I’ve compiled ten essential questions, and follow up questions, that you should be asking.
1. What is the provider’s Industry knowledge and area of expertise?
- How many years of experience does the team have?
- What is the provider’s thought leadership within the MS industry?
- What is the provider’s expertise and experience delivering programs for your specific industry?
2. Can the provider deliver on my goals and objectives?
- Is the provider going to tell you better ways to accomplish your goals?
- Will the provider direct you in crafting the best program for your needs – including budget, scenarios, questions, fieldwork, timing and use of the data?
3. Will I receive actionable quality metrics?
- Is the provider going to walk you through all reports, to ensure you understand what the data means?
- Is the provider going to QA each report?
- Will timely reporting be standard and does it include an account director, available for all questions?
4. How long is the process?
- Will the provider guarantee the completion time?
- Can your provider deliver expedited shopping programs at the highest level of quality?
5. Is the provider going to offer scenarios?
- Can case studies that look and feel like my business challenge be made available?
- Will the provider share ROI on programs delivered in my same industry?
6. Is the provider going to tell you what NOT to do?
- Is the provider experienced enough to know what will deliver successful results?
- Can the provider’s industry knowledge keep you from creating an ineffective survey tool?
7. How are shoppers selected?
- What criteria is used to ensure shopper and program alignment, including experience, diversity, education, etc.?
- What is the hiring process, including background screening?
8. Is the provider using third-party scheduling companies?
- How do you guarantee good shopper selection vs. just meeting a fulfillment goal?
- How can provider guarantee their third-party scheduling company has a thorough understanding of shoppers’ background, skills and industry experience?
9. What about information security?
- What are the provider’s data storage policies?
- What are the data security measures and do they meet industry requirements?
10. What is the provider’s methodology and will insights be shared?
- Does the provider offer details about the program design?
- How will the program execution and service delivery be documented?
- Is the service provider capable of providing Human eXperience (HX) insights?