4 Things to Ask Mystery Shopping Providers

Mystery shopping providers seem a dime-a-dozen if you Google us. Truth is, however, we’re not all the same. Each of the many mystery shopping providers out there has its individual, unique strengths and weaknesses, with one big thing in common: we all want to do our best for you! So before you dive into the quest to find which one of us can best meet your needs, be sure to ask us these 4 things:

4 Things to ask Mystery Shopping Providers Before You Hire Us

Are you experts in our industry and field?

When you’re looking to implement a mystery shopping program, you’re looking for specific answers. Mystery shopping programs are customized to industry, requirement, and company, but that doesn’t mean that any of the many mystery shopping providers out there are up to the task. Every industry is different, after all, and as a result it’s vital to choose a provider that has experience with mystery shopping the industry in question. Not only will that provider have a better handle on the sort of insights you might be after, they’ll also be more likely to have a larger, better pool of mystery shoppers available for your specific business.

How do you select and train your mystery shoppers?

Before we look at this, let’s make one thing very clear: mystery shoppers are not employees of any of the mystery shopping providers, they are independent individuals who fit the required profile and are trained to ask the questions and observe the things required of them by the mystery shopping program. This does not make them your typical customers, though they will certainly act like them!

Not all mystery shoppers are created equal, and obviously you want the best ones suited to your program! It’s important to know how your mystery shopping provider will be selecting and training the mystery shoppers for this program. You might want to ask further details like whether the provider has enough coverage in certain areas – particularly away from larger cities, where population density can play a role – and how they might be able to tackle hard to reach locations.

Just don’t expect mystery shopping providers to give you the specifics about their mystery shoppers – names, contact details, appearance – not only is that material private, knowing it can seriously defeat the entire purpose of your mystery shopping program!

What kind of insights and reporting is available?

Throughout the course of your mystery shopping program, all sorts of data is going to be coming in from the mystery shoppers as they complete their mystery visits, calls, or shops. It’s important to know how mystery shopping providers share that data and their relevant insights with you. This is what you’re actually paying for, after all, the data that’s going to show you how you can improve those areas that need it. Many providers will offer you real time access to the data as it comes in through dashboards and online platforms – don’t be afraid to ask the provider for training in how to get the most out of that system! Other companies also supply ‘offline’ reporting with further analysis and insights into the data, usually delivered at the end of a fieldwork period. At AQ, for example, we do both – online and offline reporting – but other providers may tackle this differently, so make sure you are clear on what you want and what to expect and before you decide between mystery shopping providers!

What kind of support will you provide during the program?

Will there be a designated person in charge for the duration of the program? Who should you contact if you have concerns or questions? How often should you expect updates from the provider? These are all questions that will help you get a better picture of the kind of support and information you’ll receive from the mystery shopping provider once the program gets started. It’s important to establish a good relationship and understanding with the team and team leader that will be spearheading your mystery shopping program; that way, if you have concerns, or you simply want to check in, you don’t have to chase anyone or figure out how to get in touch with the right person.

As mystery shopping providers, many of us think that we answer all these questions during the initial ‘get to know each other’ phases of our relationships with our clients, but that may not necessarily be true. What’s important for you – our prospective clients – to understand is that we are here to help you improve your business, to help you grow, to help you find where things are going well and where they might need a little more attention; that journey of improvement is most certainly a two-way street. So please, ask the questions you need to make sure you’re picking the right provider for you, because we’re not all the same, but we all want to make sure you’re going to get the most out of the programs we deliver.

Olwen - in purple Olwen has been in marketing for more than 8 years, she‘s been with AQ since 2016. Her passion is for helping people and businesses improve their customer service experience by providing interesting content. Follow her on Twitter, or connect on LinkedIn.

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