A mystery shopping business typically provides mystery or secret shopper services to companies hoping to evaluate customer experience. They send mystery shoppers to a client’s stores or other facilities and have them shop as a regular customer would. Then, the mystery shopper usually evaluates his experience or provides important information for the client.
Companies use a mystery shopping business to obtain information about the experiences consumers have when attempting to buy their products and services. A mystery shopping business contracts with a business in need of mystery shopping services, sending secret shoppers out to evaluate the company based on the company's request for information. These secret shopper expeditions allow the company to learn how its staff is performing and how the average consumer might feel about buying from its stores or facilities. Since the staff thinks the secret shopper is simply a regular customer, staff members are unlikely to behave better than normal. As such the company is usually able to determine the impression most customers are given.
Among the services a mystery shopping business may provide is evaluation of a company's customer service. For example, a secret shopper may enter a store, make a purchase and attempt to get help with the purchase from the customer service desk. After this experience, the secret shopper may rate the company based on a number of factors, including how long he waited for help and whether the customer service representative was helpful, knowledgeable and courteous. The secret shopper may provide information about the final outcome of his request as well as his overall satisfaction with it. In some cases, he may even rate the general appearance of the company representative, such as whether she smiled or was dressed in appropriate attire.
Sometimes companies use mystery shopping businesses to learn what consumers think of their facility’s physical attributes. For example, mystery shoppers may evaluate a store’s signage, entrance and exits, interior layout, checkout arrangements and traffic flow. A mystery shopper may also comment on how easy or difficult he found it to access certain products. He may also evaluate the availability of store personnel to help him.
In some cases, companies use mystery shoppers to learn how the average consumer may feel about their offerings. For example, a company may pay a mystery shopping service to send secret shoppers on a mission to find and purchase a particular product. The shopper may then evaluate how easy it was to find, whether it was displayed prominently and how its packaging appeared. The shopper may also answer questions about its price, the checkout process and the behavior of store staff.