With online feedback and social media being one of the biggest ways in which people express their likes and dislikes for products, companies, and marketing campaigns, is mystery shopping still a relevant tool?
The other day I stumbled across a whole series of articles asking ‘Why companies still use mystery shopping?’. While all these articles explore the basic reasons by mystery shopping, they didn’t really look to address that one little word in the title that changed everything about the question: ‘Why companies still use mystery shopping?’.
There are plenty of market research tools out in the world, and technology is always changing so why do companies still use mystery shopping?
The short answer is: mystery shopping is incredibly versatile and is easy to change to evolving circumstances. It’s so adaptable, in fact, that it’s one of the easier market research tools to transfer to new technology.
For example, social media plays a large role in customer satisfaction and online feedback. We know that people are more likely to complain about negative experiences on their social media channels than they are to go directly to the company. This can create an issue when it comes to staying ahead of customer service expectations. Customers may give all the impressions of being satisfied when they leave a store, but lo and behold, five seconds later there’s a negative review on your Facebook page. Tapping into online feedback is a great way to augment your mystery shopping programs.
One of the services we offer at AQ is social media monitoring and listening – monitoring being the active measuring of your brand and its keywords, listening being more general ‘listening in’ on conversations being held about your company and its products. We use both social media monitoring and social media listening as tools to enhance a mystery shopping program. Think about it for a moment: your regular mystery shopping program tells you how your successful your new product placement is, and verifies that your staff is talking about it in the correct way when a customer comes in, and then as an additional tool, you get to see how much that product is being discussed online – and what’s being said about it.
Mystery shopping has always been about getting the real information about what’s going on – like Andrew Yeoh, AQ’s Business Development Director for Asia, told me when I first started: ‘Mystery shopping isn’t about opinions, it’s about experiences.’ It’s important to understand that those experiences are now as omnichannel as the services they discuss; similarly, it’s vital that mystery shopping programs adapt to include online feedback and use tactics to help companies develop their online presence, responses, and evolution.