Moving Beyond Mystery Shopping and Evaluating Customers' True Experiences
Satisfying customers and increasing sales go hand-in-hand for retailers. That's one reason why so many employ mystery shopping programs to gauge their customers’ satisfaction. And while mystery shopping has been a retailer mainstay for decades, technology and resource innovations make it easier for today’s retailers to get deeper and broader feedback from the people who know it best — actual customers.
Web-based enterprise feedback management (EFM) solutions go straight to the source and well beyond the point-in-time, observation-based evaluations mystery shopping programs produce. Sure, there's still room for mystery shopping to get outside-in perspectives or test specific employee protocols, but a direct customer feedback channel is the best way to obtain the critical customer intelligence needed to make strategic decisions.
Measuring the 'True' Experience
There's a gold mine of useful insights buried in customers’ experiences. How do they shop? Which brands are they interested in? Are they concerned with service or speed? Do they notice when the store isn’t clean? Mystery shoppers cannot answer these questions because they cannot be measured strictly by observation.
A mystery shopping report might note that a checkout area was cluttered, for example, but it can't measure whether customers would (a) notice this and (b) how much impact it had on their likelihood to return to that store. Retailers can't perfect every aspect of their stores; they must prioritize time and resources. With an EFM approach, retailers can gain insights into what truly matters to customers, exploring every dimension of the shopping experience, and address the issues that, ultimately, are most important to customers.
It's All About the Data
Mystery shopping is inherently time- and resource-intensive. The result of that is budgets only allow for a few data points to be collected for a given store each month, which leads to data validity issues. With a comprehensive EFM customer experience initiative, retailers can evaluate larger volumes of data that yield higher reliability and provide issues analysis at a granular level. For example, retailers can drill down to individual stores or departments and be confident that the feedback they're receiving is representative of the larger sample set.