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Mystery shopping and its importance for stores

Aug 17, 2007
Mystery shopping, also known as secret shopping, is the method by which a store or a company evaluates its employees' performance. In this a person in disguise pretends to be a shopper, visits the store, interacts with the employees and assesses their ability to build a rapport with the customer in order to sell their products. That person is actually hired by the store owner or the company proprietor to, assess the performance of employees and in the end submit the report to the proprietor. The person hired is called mystery shopper.

Apart from evaluation of performances, mystery shoppers analyze other commercial aspects of retail stores. These aspects could be price, availability, and quality of the product; customer service via websites, telephones and in person; and house keeping. The freelance professionals called secret shoppers then hand over their assessment to the company head who actually hired them.

There are no essential requirements to be a secret shopper, as shoppers don't have specific appearance or qualification. Those who have a flair and passion to enhance the customer service and the quality of the product can plunge into secret shopping. It would be interesting to learn that the secret shoppers are paid for their job. It is a profession just like any other profession.

Although the job entails shopping which is fun, mystery shopping is a serious business and should be carefully dealt with. There must be certain innate traits within a person that would be helpful in being a secret shopper. These traits are the ability to act or pretend, being trustworthy, reliable and professional. Apart from all these, secret shoppers should have a better mode of transportation, good writing skills and a clear perspective of actual reporting and their personal opinion so that the truth is not tampered.

The stores make use of mystery shopping to uplift their sales by improving customer satisfaction. Secret shoppers are hired wholely and solely to increase sales by improving the performance of the employees. Mystery shopping is useful not just for evaluating the staff's performance but also for checking the customer service offered by the rival business. It can be compared with one's own customer service to find the problem areas. The problems can then be rectified to increase the number of customers and hence the sales.

Before hiring a mystery shopper make sure to inquire about the services that the shopper has in hand, do the research well before hiring. Conducting an audit of the employees is a tough job as it is mandatory that they do not get prior information regarding this exercise otherwise they will not present their true picture at the time of scrutiny.

A store manager keeps a vigil on his employees while they deal with the customers in person and over the phone. This often makes the employees nervous and they become inadvertent under pressure. Instead a mystery shopper brings out the true picture of the employees as they perform naturally. This helps to locate the fault and the drawbacks of each and every employee perfectly which subsequently helps in improving customer satisfaction. Sometimes the customers inquire about the products over the phone before coming to the store. In this situation, the employee's ability to converse with them over the phone, in order to convert the caller into a potential customer, matters the most. To locate the faults of the employee, some fake calls are required, and only a professional mystery shopper can do it. A store can avail the same kind of services provided by the companies for the product distribution and marketing. Mystery shoppers are hired by the companies to find out what the customers think about the new product that hits the market.

Mystery shoppers are known by many names like virtual customers, evaluators in disguise and spotters but they solve only one purpose of enhancing the customer service of a store and increasing its sales.
About the Author
Joseph operates an online resource providing mystery shoppers an avenue to locate more companies to hire them for mystery shopping tasks. You can read more about the resource at: http://www.mysteryshopperresource.com, the place for Mystery Shopper Resource
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