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Mystery Shopping & its Types

Known by various names like Secret Shopping, Secret evaluation, undercover shopping, shadow shopping or phantom shopping, the term Mystery Shopping essentially refers to visiting any place or business anonymously (hence the word 'Mystery') with an intention of reviewing it against a standard or the laid down organizational procedure. It is a unique and common tool used by many company to gauge there, and, at times, the competitors service standards and customer experience.

People who perform Mystery Shopping are referred to as Mystery Shoppers or Mystery Evaluators and get paid on per shop/audit basis post the successful submission of their reports along with requisite proofs. Mystery Shopping helps businesses and organizations to identify areas that need improvement. It is a very important tool in any business's arsenal. Mystery Shopping serves just as a blood test diagnostic of any organization, bringing out the deficiencies in the areas of operations. There are various forms of Mystery evaluations.

Mystery shopping at store

A shop check would mean visiting the designated outlets and reviewing the outlet against the predefined parameters. It is needless to mention here that the entire visit remains anonymous, unless required otherwise. 




Mystery calling

An Organizations help desk or sales desk is the 'heart' of it's business. Many times you would be asked to evaluate a place by 'Calling In' at their call centre or boardline number and provide various details like call opening, voice tone, rapport building, effective listening, professionalism, enthusiasm, sales, cross selling, upselling, closing etc..The call checks can be separate evaluations or part of the regular shop checks.

Web checks

The webchecks aim at gauging the website in terms of meeting the customer expectations, number of clicks or select to order, cycle and overall customer experience such as the GUI (Graphical User Interface) and user friendliness. The mystery shopping industry would present you with numerous scenarios once you start working as a Mystery Shopper.  




Announced Mystery Audits

In an announced mystery evaluation, you would be evaluating the location and if certain standards are met with, you would be revealing yourself as a mystery evaluator and also, at times, reward an employee or the location itself. It may also mean evaluating the location with prior intimation to the incharge there.




Competition benchmarking

While most of the evaluations you do, would be done at clients own location, there would be a few which have to be done at competitors locations with various motives on mind, eg- Comparing the industry standards,price checks, brand recommendation by sales staff, feasibility study for new outlet, introducing a new product, marketing or promotional activities of companies, etc.



Integrity checks

In this scenario, the secret evaluation is aimed to check the employees integrity and honesty by creating a scenario like paying lesser amount and purchasing something without bill or bribing the employee for something. Temptation plus opportunity often give way to dishonesty, this checks help in preventing thefts and loss to the organizations profit and goodwill.



Price audits

Many a time, the companies set MOP (market operating prices) or their products as a company policy. At times the retailers sell below these prices to increase their sales, jeopardizing the companies reputation in effect. In these scenarios you may have to check whether the retailer offers discount on specific items. You may be surprised to know that implications of selling below the prices set can be as severe as losing the franchise of the brand.



In either of the Mystery shopping categories, you may have to raise objections to observe the response of the sales associate and measure it against the set guidelines. You may, for example, be asked to object at the price of the shirt at the apparel store and see how the sales associate justifies the price with product knowledge he has. in a scenario where you are asked to raise an objection, it is very important that you follow the guidelines. Failure to do so may result in exclusion or no acceptance of your report and therefore, leads to less or no money.

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