MYSTERY SHOPPING CASE STUDY
Rebooting the Electronics Store
The best way to show the benefits of mystery shopping is with a practical example. Let’s say you’re the COO of a regional electronics store chain. You sell laptops, home appliances, smart phones, computer games, and accessories. You’ve been seeing sales decline over the last two quarters despite opening more stores, and you call us in to find out what the issue might be. Here’s how we work:
Understand What You Want the Ideal Customer Experience to Be
Before we even go to the store, we talk to you about your expectations:
- What are the main areas you want us to focus on?
- Do you have particular problems or issues you need examined?
- How are you expecting staff to treat customers?
- Are there any particular metrics you need measured? (e.g. time to service, speed at finding items, wait time for assistance, level of product knowledge, etc.)
- What do you want to get out of the mystery shopping data?
- How will you use that data to drive changes in your business?
Once we have a clear idea of your aims and goals, we start the mystery shopping program. At this point, it’s important to remember that this is just one example of one program. Options available are wide-ranging, and each mystery shopping program is tailored to fit the unique needs of the client.
“It is 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one.” — White House Office of Consumer Affairs
Arriving at the Store
On arrival at the electronics store a mystery shopper will:
- See how easy it is to find the store in the first place.
- Look at parking arrangements.
- See how busy the store is.
- Examine signage, entrances, and exits for the store.
- Look at the design, cleanliness, and other aspects of the store’s exterior.
The aim is to evaluate whether the store is easy to access, presents a positive first impression, and provides a safe environment.
“Employees only ask for the customer’s name 21% of the time.” — ContactPoint Client Research
Going Into the Store
The shopper will then go into the electronics store itself and examine various aspects:
- Look at signage inside the store for specific product ranges, departments, and areas.
- See how many staff are walking the floor and providing assistance to customers.
- Note the general look and feel of the store — cleanliness, fixtures and fittings, temperature, air conditioning, background music, and more.
- See how easy it is to get around the store, aisle widths, shelf placement, and accessibility.
- Observe point of sale locations and internal store branding — looking at emphasis on particular areas, product lines, or niches.
- See how easy it is to find specific products.
The aim is to check that overall impressions inside the store are good, that the store is comfortable and easy to get around, and that marketing and signage directs customers in the right way.
“Almost 9 out of 10 U.S. consumers say they would pay more to ensure a superior customer experience.” — Harris Interactive/RightNow
Interacting with Staff
The heart of mystery shopping is staff interactions. A mystery shopper will:
- See how fast and easy it is to find a staff member.
- Assess the approach and attitude of staff members.
- Test knowledge, skills, expertise, and experience.
- See how the staff member is at dealing with specific circumstances — answering questions, providing information, handling refunds, up-selling, making a sale, etc.
- Rate the overall interaction.
The aim is to check that your staff treat shoppers well, that they are properly trained, and that they make every interaction pleasurable and customer-focused.
“78% of consumers say that competent staff are the most important part of a happy customer experience.” — Genesys Global
Sales and Checkout Process
Finally, it’s time for money to change hands. The mystery shopper will carefully review the checkout process at the electronics store:
- How the goods are packed and handled.
- Taking payments via cash, debit, or credit card.
- Waiting times and efficiency.
- Opportunities for up-selling — guarantees, extras, membership club etc.
- Attitude of checkout staff.
- Integrity of staff.
The aim is to test that the checkout process is fast, simple, efficient, and good for the customer.
“70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.” — McKinsey
Bringing Everything Together
That’s just one visit from one customer to one store. In reality we would test your shopping experience with multiple mystery shoppers over several visits to different locations. The idea is to give you a comprehensive report into every aspect of your business. Mystery shopping should help you track performance over time, identify trends, and explain how you can continuously improve your business.
“By far, the most requested improvement from customers was ‘Better Human Service’” at 40% — Genesys Global
What the Electronics Store COO Learned
In our example above, how would mystery shopping help the electronics store to improve its business and increase its bottom line? Here are some things we might have discovered:
- There was a lack of training among the staff, meaning they couldn’t always answer technical questions and provide reliable information. The shopper could not make an informed choice.
- Signage at the store wasn’t adequate, making it difficult to find the exact accessories the shopper was looking for.
- There were opportunities to up-sell cables and an extended warranty when buying a television — these were not followed up on, losing over $100 in potential sales for that customer alone. Imagine that impact multiplied by thousands of customers over time!
- Shoppers could not interact and test out products in a “hands on” way, meaning it was difficult to understand the user experience.
- In the summer, the temperature was a couple of degrees too high, limiting the amount of comfortable time in the store.
The company would then work to develop a complete action plan to resolve each of the issues identified, and as the changes are made we would implement a mystery shopping strategy to ensure that they are working.
“91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with you again.” — Lee Resources
Are You Ready to Maximize the Customer Experience?
Whatever industry you’re in, it’s clear that maximizing positive customer experiences is key to your survival.
With our combination of deep insight, wide experience, and a laser-focus on your needs, we’re ideally placed to ensure your success and growth.