BlogDagmar 11.02.2021

Mystery shopping. The truth about customer experience – at every stage of the purchase journey

Customer experience development Data-driven leadership Brand

Mystery shopping is a research method for customer experience management. It unvarnishedly reveals how marketing and sales promises are delivered at different touchpoints – from brick-and-mortar stores to digital services. Is the service promise and goals being followed? Are the values of the brand and company realized? Where do we succeed, what needs to be developed? Dagmar Drive’s Insight Manager Mileena Aniszewski explains the uses and benefits of mystery shopping. 

Mystery shopping was originally developed to monitor the quality of customer service in traditional purchasing and service channels. It has been used to do a lot of research on customer service at the time of purchase or just before the purchase in physical stores. 

When the coronavirus pandemic caused customers to leave brick-and-mortar stores, the use of mystery shopping was also put on hold for many. Will the entire method become a thing of the past with fewer brick-and-mortar contacts? 

Not at all. Mystery shopping is a great tool for measuring customer experience and service quality at all touchpoints – including online stores and websites. It honestly reveals strengths and weaknesses equally when meeting customers by phone, email or through the company’s social media channels. What works, where there is room for improvement.  

Mystery shopping is an observational research method 

The study recruits suitable people as tester customers. They use different channels anonymously, just like regular customers. They systematically evaluate the service situation and customer experience, paying attention to pre-agreed matters. 

Mystery shopping is the best way to get a deep grip on the functionality of the sales and service concept – and lead the customer experience. 

The method provides reliable, objective information on the functionality of the service and sales concept and the quality of customer service. It can be used to measure both the service of one’s own personnel and the activities of a subcontractor or dealer. Competitors may also be the subject of research. 

Mystery shopping is an excellent tool for understanding and developing customer experience. Customer experience can be monitored at all stages of the purchase path: What kind of experience is created for the customer already at the information search stage? What about at the time of purchase or in a service situation? What happens after the purchase, for example in the event of a complaint? 

Mystery shopping ensures a good customer experience at different touchpoints 

At the top level, the research process is straightforward. 

  1. Let’s find out the current state of the customer experience. Is the customer experience positive? Will the company’s service promise be fulfilled? Is customer service consistent?  
  1. Identify critical development targets for the customer experience and define the necessary actionsThe measures can be very different depending on the development targets and the company’s resources and goals – e.g. staff training, updating instructions, improving communications, modifying the service concept or developing the website. 
  1. Monitoring and ensuring that deficiencies are corrected and the customer experience improves. The greatest benefit is achieved when the development of customer experience and service quality is monitored regularly. However, each project is very unique, as there are as many needs and levels of implementation as there are customers. 

Mystery shopping is also a tool for managing personnel and supporting sales. 

No matter how good new customer acquisition is done by marketing and sales, there will be no results if the customer experience remains weak and customers do not return. Not to mention if sales are not carried out in accordance with the goal. 

When the customer experience is managed holistically on the purchase path, a unified image of the company and brand is formed regardless of where or with whom the customer deals. Every good experience builds a positive customer relationship and engages the customer. 

With the help of the understanding gained through mystery shopping, the company’s operations can be developed extensively throughout the organization: for example, to manage and train personnel, improve customer service, and develop a service concept or even an online store. Mystery shopping is an excellent tool for monitoring the realisation of additional sales, among other things. 

A better customer experience is always reflected back in our own personnel and paves the way for sales growth and business profitability. 

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