The term “secret shopper” conjures up a playful image of a silent spylike observer, which harks back to the 1940s when the term was first used to depict a private investigator who would pose as an employee to uncover whether or not the actual employees were doing anything to compromise the success of the company. The reality today is perhaps a little less James Bond but just as relevant. Secret Shopping or Mystery Shopping, as it is commonly known, is used across a broad sector of businesses to assess numerous customer service touch points that ultimately have an impact on business success.
FMI have a built up an impressive list of national brands like McCauley Chemist, Circle K convenience store chain and Eurospar supermarkets as well as Virgin Media, all of whom, for the last few years, have used the “secret shopper” service as a means to measure performance, direct strategic decisions and drive business growth. If the term “secret shopper” at first seems a bit frivolous, do not underestimate the value of the work and its influence on business performance.
The approach from the outset is strategic. The FMI team sit down with the client to understand their current issues and their business objectives. Based on their years of experience, FMI creates a unique questionnaire and weights the questions to ensure that the results of the questionnaire deliver the best insights and value the clients are looking to uncover. The way the questions are weighted on the questionnaire is extremely important because this determines which aspects are important for the business and which deserve more consideration.
However, the questionnaire is only truly effective if it is delivered by the right calibre of secret shopper, who knows what to look out for and how to approach sales personnel in-store. The fact that they run multiple “secret shopper” campaigns means that FMI have a database of trusted contractors on FMI books. Prospective FMI contractors get their reports validated based on a set of criteria which includes punctuality, grammar and their accuracy in meeting the brief. They are marked out of 10 and if they achieve less than 7/10 they are not contracted.
Role of Reporting
The system used by FMI provides full visibility for clients on all the campaign data. Clients are able to access the system at any time and pull the data they require.
All reports are issued within 48 hours and are built on observations and recommendations. The timeliness of these reports is instrumental in facilitating the responsiveness to the issues raised before they become systemic problems. This factor is crucial in effective use of secret shopping campaign data.
The frequency of the reporting is down to the individual client’s preference. Reports issued at the conclusion of a full campaign cycle are the most insightful as they have sufficient data to track longer-term customers’ behaviour changes.
Brands who run successful secret shopping campaigns embrace it wholeheartedly. Not only are they swift to act on the insights provided but they engage their teams in the process too. Some clients set up internal leader boards to encourage and motivate their teams to optimise their performance. To mitigate any predictability, the secret shopper campaigns need to be refreshed frequently. This ensures that the results are a true reflection of the average customer experience.
Using a skilled and experienced agency such as FMI guarantees that the set-up, monitoring and reporting of the secret shopping campaigns are done to industry best practice, and that the results and insights delivered will have a significant influence on your business performance. Many consumers do not choose to voice their dissatisfaction in-store they merely take their spending elsewhere. In a time when competition is fierce, a strategic secret shopping campaign may just be what you need to drive business performance.
If you would like to learn more about the Mystery Shopping service from FMI – contact firstname.lastname@example.org.