Research & Marketing Strategies (RMS) has noticed a trend of clients requesting more and more mystery shopping services in Central NY over the past few years. The need for a third-party vendor for this type of market research activity is crucial. Unlike other market research you may contemplate doing in-house, with this you can’t use your own staff to do mystery shopping on fellow colleagues. They may obviously recognize them, biasing the research. And, even if you pulled someone from a different department to do the secret shopping, how can you be 100% certain they can be objective? It requires the shopper to be anonymous and unbiased.
Click here for a Bunker Blog post on doing market research in-house.
This type of research can come in all forms – phone calls, online inquiries and most commonly, in-person visits. By commissioning a firm like RMS to conduct mystery shops, we can do research and analyze the actual point of contact or point of entry of your own customers. We become your customers and analyze our experiences from a researcher’s objective point of view. RMS works with our clients to create a script or checklist of what management expects a customer representative to say while dealing with a customer. We also analyze the data and rate the experience based on those measures.
In more in-depth mystery shopping projects, RMS can work with the client to create scenarios of specific situations a customer could bring to a company to see how the reps may deal with the issue. These scenarios can be as uncomplicated or as complex as requested. Information can be used to continually track performance of your employees. Some clients choose to inform their employees that they will be mystery shopped in the future. This often results in improved service, just knowing they may be dealing with a mystery shopper at any time. Other clients choose not to inform staff at first so they can compare and contrast a before and after. This baseline – before and after – methodology is recommended by RMS so a benchmark is created.
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RMS Example: We just wrapped up a project with a client who wanted to test how well clerks were selling a specific brand of cigarettes in a convenience store. The client recently underwent an advertising push in convenience stores all across Central NY to promote their cigarettes. Employees were encouraged to promote the brand at the register. RMS set up different scenarios where our mystery shoppers would walk in and request a competitive brand and see if the clerk suggested the client’s brand instead (as instructed). If the clerk didn’t, we asked the shoppers to inquire about the client’s brand to hear how the clerk responded. The mystery shopper also noted how well the brand was advertised, how friendly/knowledgeable the clerk was, specific stock levels of each brand, and ratings for the overall experience. Through this research we provided the client with feedback on specific employees, specific store locations, and data on the cigarettes advertising campaign – all from the perception of their everyday customers.
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