Secret Shopping Service on the Prowl

Secret Shopping Service on the Prowl

Whether you are a marketer or a business owner, do you have ready answers for the following questions?

  1. Do you know what takes place in your business when you are absent?
  2. Are your customers receiving the level of service they deserve and expect?
  3. Are they happy with their experience and would they return for more?
  4. Are your staff performing at the level they were trained for?
  5. Do you know when to reward an employee for providing exceptional customer service?

If you are not sure, secret shopping services, also known as mystery shopping, can give you the answers to these questions!

Contrary to popular belief that secret shopping was a fad of the late 20th Century, secret shopping actually began in the 1940s. It was used to measure employee integrity. Gradually, enlightened marketers realized that the results were equally useful in creating a satisfactory shopping experience for their customers. Over time, secret shopping services were used by the retail and hospitality industries. Currently, secret shopping companies counted retail stores, hotels, theatres, restaurants, fast food chains, banks, gas stations, car dealerships, apartments, and health clubs as their biggest clients. Actually, any company can use secret shopping services so long as there are customer/business interactions. According to a 2005 report commissioned by the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) in USA, the secret shopping industry had an estimated value of nearly $600 million in 2004.

So what kind of services does a secret shopping company provides? Generally:

On-site Secret Shopping

The point-of-sale is where a customer decides if he is happy with the shopping experience, if he is making a purchase and if he will return for another purchase. Evaluation of the interaction between the staff and customer will disclose the type of service your customer is receiving and whether your staff members are following your prescribed procedures. In short, on-site secret shopping look at sales and service efforts from two perspectives – the customer as well as the company’s. On top of that, the secret shopper will also assess the physical aspects such as the cleanliness and upkeep of the facility, the display of merchandises and promotional materials, the appearance of the staff, and so on.

On Phone Secret Shopping

First impressions on the telephone will also enable the customer to decide whether to visit you or your rivals. Such a service will reveal information like: Is the telephone answered promptly? Is the customer put on hold for longer than the prescribed time? Is the tone of voice warm, friendly and respectful? Are the answers provided to the customer correct? Did the call end with an invitation to take action? The secret shopper will usually tape the conversation to enable a postmortem to be carried out.

On-line Secret Shopping

The evaluation mainly checks the response time to inquiries and order. People shop online because it is perceived to be hassle free and fast. So they expect to have their inquiries answered quickly.

Web-based Customer Service Survey

The survey is usually customized so that accurate readings can be achieved. More and more companies are turning to online service. Not only because it is fast and easy, it save lots of money in printing, postage and sorting.

Through the use of its unique secret shopping and customer survey programs, you get to collect incident-specific performance at the moment of truth when a customer comes in contact with your organization, but also to track and trend attributes and behaviors that can impact long-term guest value, satisfaction and advocacy.

Perhaps when 007 retires from active duty, he can start up a secret shopping service.

[tags]secret shopping service, mystery shopping[/tags]

5 Replies to “Secret Shopping Service on the Prowl”

  1. Excellent article! You really have a great grasp on the importance of secret shopping. It is important for people to realize that there are many kinds of shopper assignments. There are a lot of preconceived ideas, and many people think mystery shopping is a scam – not realizing the legitimacy of the business.

  2. I’ve been a secret shopper for a couple years now. I’ve had my share of boring assignments such as visiting a bank or a dry cleaners, but each of those assignments had their perks such as getting an extra $15 from the bank for opening an account (which I had to do anyway for the assignment), and getting my jacket dry cleaned for free.

    The secret shopping industry is growing. It si already worth approximately 800 Million Dollars in the US and continues to grow. Today secret shoppers are employed in so many different sectors. Airports, spas, resorts. You can find out more about the secret shopping industry at

  3. MarketChecker has opportunities for mystery shoppers in the UK, particularly in the London area and in Dublin in Eire.

    Mystery shopping work can be fun as well as profitable; currently we recruit for cinema visits and other leisure activities.

    It doesn’t pay the earth (as some sites will claim) but you do get a free fun evening out with free refreshments and a fee to cover the filling out of our feedback form.

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