Mystery shopping myths have been around since the inception of the tool. Mystery shopping is simply a market research tool that can be used for a variety of different things; whether it’s to measure customer service performance in frontline staff, compliances with legal requirements, compliance with internal processes, or to check up on store layouts and cleanliness, mystery shopping is an adaptable tool that can help many businesses.
In this article, we’ve taken the Top 7 Mystery Shopping Myths we found on the internet, and we will do our best to dispell them. There are two sides to this story, of course – this article focusses on the side of the company hiring a mystery shopping provider rather than from the point of view of a would-be mystery shopper – there are many more mystery shopping myths about mystery shopping in general, that will follow!
Top 7 B2B Mystery Shopping Myths
1. Mystery Shopping is essentially Espionage
All employees of a company should be informed that a mystery shopping program is taking place. They should be told what the aims of the program are and what the company hopes to achieve with the data it gains from the program. Depending on the kind of program that’s running, employees may or may not be kept in the dark about the frequency of the program – whether it runs monthly, quarterly, or annually – but they definitely won’t be told what times mystery shoppers are most likely to swing by – that would defeat the point of the program after all.
2. Mystery Shopping only highlights things that are wrong
Mystery shopping programs can show all sorts of things – the good, the bad, and the ugly – depending on the scope of the program. More importantly, however, is that if something goes well then that too comes to the surface.
3. Mystery Shopping will interfere with regular business
One of the biggest mystery shopping myths is that by having mystery shoppers posing as regular customers it affects the day-to-day business of the company. The truth is, however, that mystery shoppers are trained to be unobtrusive, to act the part of a regular customer – even if there is no purchase scenario in play, it makes for good practice! However, most of the time employees won’t even know the difference between a regular customer and a mystery shopper, in which case, unless you believe real customers interfere with regular business….
4. We don’t need Mystery Shopping because we’re doing well and our customers always love us
Even if your business is doing well and the customers seem happy, it’s important to keep it that way! Mystery shopping can help get you ahead of the curve by acting as a litmus test – demographics are constantly changing and it’s important for every business to stay ahead of those changes. The needs and expectations of a demographic of young families is far different from that of a grey demographic of retirees. By having a regular mystery shopping program in place, you can track changes in customer expectations and satisfaction and tailor customer service to stay ahead of it.
5. Mystery Shopping isn’t able to deliver the kind of data that we need
Another one of the big mystery shopping myths is that mystery shopping programs can only deliver a narrow selection of data that some companies find useless. This isn’t true. Mystery shopping programs are tailored to your data needs – in other words, depending on what type of information you’re after, mystery shopping can be adapted to seek out that data.
6. Mystery Shopping is the primary tool to indicate that status of customer service
While mystery shopping is certainly a useful tool in any customer service measurement arsenal, it is by no means the only weapon at your disposal. Mystery shopping can provide detailed, actionable insights into your customer service frontline, but there are many other customer service measurement tools can provide different kinds of insights – at AQ we often combine mystery shopping with other services to provide our clients with the best insights and data we can.
7. Employees will be fired if a Mystery Shopping Program scores them badly
Any company who uses the results of a mystery shopping program to fire an employee has issues that go beyond mystery shopping myths. Mystery shopping is used to measure a wide variety of things, included but not limited to staff performance. Depending on how the scenario is crafted, any sort of KPI can be measured, whether it’s frontline performance-based or whether or not the store’s setup complies with the company standard.