The "mystery shopper" method is widely used in Western companies, but has recently become known in the Russian market. It should be noted right away that almost all workers employed in the service sector have heard of such a profession, but few are aware of what exactly a mystery shopper does and how the check is carried out.
Let's consider what kind of profession it is, where to look for vacancies, what requirements an applicant for a mystery shopper must meet, as well as how the quality of work is assessed and possible errors.
What is a mystery shopper
In English, there is a term Mystery Shopper or Secret Shopper, which is the profession of a mystery shopper. The name itself speaks for itself. This is a person who must collect certain information or evaluate the quality of work / service of a certain organization, but at the same time go unnoticed.
Most often, it is the service sector enterprises that are subjected to inspections. Estimatethe quality of work, for example, of a waiter, is the easiest. The main task in the profession is to remain unnoticed so that the service staff treats the mystery shopper in the same way as they treat other visitors.
Mystery shopper checks for compliance with standards and quality of service. Based on this, he must have certain knowledge in the area that he checks. Most often, a qualified specialist is hired for this, but there may also be an ordinary person who can appreciate the quality of service.
It should be understood that a mystery shopper is not a scout, he is not used to obtain data on the work of a competing company. It only performs a service quality check to see if the company has problems and what steps should be taken to improve the situation.
Many are wondering what the work of a mystery shopper is, that is, what it consists of. The specificity of its activity is to make a purchase or receive a service in a store, restaurant, bank, gas station or cafe under the guise of an ordinary visitor. That is, to check the quality of service of a particular enterprise, where management is interested in improving the service. There is a certain standard of service, and it is up to the mystery shopper to verify that the company's employees adhere to this standard.
Mystery client can evaluate the quality of services provided by various companies, knowing the specifics of their work. He can check the waiterssalespeople, taxi drivers, secretaries, managers or operators. To do this, he carries out a control purchase or order of a service. This is confirmed by a check.
Checking can be carried out by phone, the conversation is recorded on a voice recorder. The operator must clearly and distinctly answer the questions posed regarding the activities of the company. At the same time, a mystery shopper can provoke an operator or an employee of the company into a conflict by asking tricky questions, because customers can be different.
Recently, more and more companies are using online research via chat, video or email. Regardless of the method used, the secret client provides management with a progress report with their findings on the quality of the product, service or service provided.
The objects that are checked most often are brand clothing stores, banks, restaurants and cafes. The mystery shopper has a specific scenario. The management may ask the mystery shopper report to indicate all the nuances, including how long the customer was noticed, what was offered, how and for how long the conversation was conducted, in what condition the workplace of the employee being checked, how the goods were laid out on the shelves, and so on. All this depends on the specifics of the company. To confirm the fact of verification, photo and video recording is provided.
Who can become a mystery shopper
Any person who is interested in improving the quality of service can become a secret client. AgeApplicants for the position can range from 18 to 65 years old. Preference is given to those applicants who are fluent in a computer, can speak competently, have the makings of an actor and understand the specifics of the company.
Each company has its own concept of what a mystery shopper is, since it is the management that draws up the job description and puts forward certain requirements. To become a secret client, you should pass a knowledge test and familiarize yourself with the specifics of the work.
What qualities should a mystery shopper applicant have?
- Honesty. The information provided in the report must be reliable, objective, and not based solely on personal judgments.
- Good memory and powers of observation. Most often, the check takes no more than 20 minutes, during which the client must catch all the details, remember certain points and clearly state in the report.
- Acting talent. Sometimes companies set non-standard tasks for a secret client (for example, to behave aggressively) to test the stress resistance of staff, not everyone can handle this.
- Impartiality – reporting should be based on an objective assessment, not subjective judgments.
Steps of a test purchase
Still don't know what a mystery shopper is and what his job is? Let's take a step-by-step look at how a test purchase or service is provided.
Steps of the control purchase:
- Client meeting. The attendants should say hello toevery new customer who enters the store/cafe/bar. If for several minutes, no one pays attention to the client, this is considered a big disadvantage and is displayed in the report.
- Customer needs. The employee should ask the visitor how to help him or suggest something. In case of refusal, the sales assistant must still be in the client's visibility zone. Questions of interest to him can arise at any time.
- Consultation. It is important to check employees, or rather their knowledge about a particular product / service. The seller must clearly describe the pros and cons of the chosen model and preferably offer at least two analogues for comparison.
- Purchase checkout. Once a customer has made their choice, a good employee will take the customer to the checkout, offer related products (such as phone cases or accessories) and help with clearance.
- Farewell. It is important that the employee says goodbye to the visitor, even if there is no purchase. A customer who is greeted and seen off in a friendly manner, regardless of choice, will return to the store/restaurant again.
What additional details should the secret inspector look for
After the work done, the secret client fills out a questionnaire previously developed by the management. In most cases, they require the provision of photographs from the place of verification, video or audio recordings. Mystery shopper checks in the same place several times to make surewhether the mistakes made last time have been corrected.
Most often, users are looking for data about what a mystery shopper is, reviews about the profession, what to look for during the check in the first place.
In its activities, a mystery client is guided by the following estimates:
- how staff works with customers/visitors/guests;
- whether the norms of etiquette are observed (especially in controversial or critical situations);
- how disciplined the staff is;
- appearance of company employees;
- cleanliness of the room;
- how fast customer service;
- do employees have information about the company/product/service.
The list of criteria by which the work of a mystery shopper is evaluated depends on the specifics of the company's activities. The results obtained with the provision of evidence are included in the report.
How is the work of a secret client checked and how much does he get for checking
Knowing what a mystery shopper is, you should figure out what kind of reporting he should provide. When buying a product or providing a service, there must be a receipt. It is important to provide good photos from the inspection site, an audio recording of the conversation with the staff. He also fills out a questionnaire, indicating all the nuances of the verification. It can contain from 40 to 60 questions. The development of the questionnaire is carried out by the marketing department, taking into account the specifics of the company's activities.
The questionnaire with questions can be supplemented or modified depending onwhat is the purpose of the company. It is important that a mystery shopper be able to analyze the information received, group according to estimates and calculate the quality of service indicator. All reports are collected in one and checked by the inspector (assessor) and directly by the customer. A mystery shopper is most often hired separately and is not part of the company's employees.
The company compensates the expenses of a mystery client for the purchase of goods or the provision of services. In rare cases, the product is returned back to the store after purchase. The cost is reimbursed to a bank card, and the price of the check is from 250-300 rubles. The cheapest is the work of a mystery shopper in small retail stores. For example, a chain of draft beer stores pays for the work of a mystery shopper in the amount of 150 rubles per check. You can earn more from car dealership owners. The price of verification can reach more than 1 thousand rubles.
The cost of the check depends on its complexity, but on average it takes no more than half an hour. Next comes filling out the questionnaire and analyzing the assessment, which takes another couple of hours. Despite the fact that in general the work is not difficult, the mystery shopper must understand that not only the conclusion that the company will make, but also the career of some of the employees indicated in the report depends on the quality of his evaluation.
Where to look for a suitable job
Having figured out what it is - the profession of a mystery shopper, wondering where to look for a suitable job? Indeed, to checkan agreement must be signed with the company, indicating the nuances of the verification and its cost.
There are several ways to find a job as a mystery shopper:
- will get a job in a company that specializes in providing secret client services (it can be a Russian or foreign company);
- search on thematic sites - you can work as a mystery shopper as a freelancer on services such as World of Mystery Shopper, 4Service Group, Good Service, Radix Group, Lucid and others;
- there are intermediary firms - it is easier to work with them, but the cost of verification is lower than when concluding a contract specifically with an organization.
The social component of the profession
According to reviews, what is a mystery shopper? First of all, this is a person who cares and who wants to improve and improve the quality of service. After all, almost every day everyone visits certain shops, banks, restaurants or cafes. And who, if not visitors, can and want to make this service better. In general, we can say that the profession is noble in relation to customers, but somewhat unfair to employees. That is why it is important not to evaluate the work subjectively, but still approach the assessment in a balanced way.
In addition, as some say, you can eat at the cafe during the check at the expense of the company. This is what makes the secret client profession most attractive to a certain group of people. But you should also not forget that the customer does not just pay for the check, but wants to get responsible for it.work and certain recommendations for quality improvement.
Not everyone understands, judging by the reviews of the work, what a mystery shopper is. Let's talk about the mistakes that mystery shoppers make.
- excessive emotionality - can lead to underestimation or overestimation, this also applies to subjectivity (for example, a woman can be more loyal to a man seller and vice versa);
- "star disease" - professional mystery clients believe they should be better served than regular customers, paying attention to a variety of details that may not be relevant to verification;
- salesperson retelling – a mystery shopper should speak their mind and give an objective assessment, and not just retell the words of a company employee (less water and more dry facts);
- purchase time – it takes less than half an hour for a regular customer to purchase an item, some mystery shoppers walk around the store for hours, constantly asking staff in the hope of revealing additional details.
In order to avoid mistakes, you should clearly follow the pre-prepared verification script, which indicates the schedule, time, and the nuances of the purchase.
Advantages and disadvantages
Interested in mystery shopper service but don't know the pros and cons of the profession? Consider the pros and cons in more detail.
The benefits of the profession are as follows:
- free schedulework (can be combined with the main activity);
- no compulsory employment;
- no special education required;
- custom work of interest;
- gaining knowledge about new products or services;
- decent pay.
Despite the large number of advantages, there are also disadvantages. On average, it takes almost half a day to check and process the received data, because it is important to systematize all the information. Also, the minuses include excessive pickiness of employees when a mystery shopper personally visits a store or cafe. Also, the work may not be paid, especially when searching on the Internet and agreeing in words.
First of all, firms that care about reputation and want to constantly improve the quality of customer service are interested in such a profession as a mystery shopper. This work requires certain knowledge, primarily related to the specifics of the company. The salary of a secret client is small, but depends on his professionalism and approach to evaluation.