Mystery shopping

Phases of MS conduction at companies

There are 4 phases of MS conduction that all companies, who decide to implement mystery shopping in their business, go through.

If company is aware that all of these phases are normal and necessary, they will implement mystery shopping in their business even faster and with higher success.

Phase 1: Denial

Beginning of mystery shopping program is usually followed by first phase – denial, which means that result are usually found incorrect (whether completely or just partly). In this phase often comments are: “It is not possible that my employee didn’t thank.”; All of my employees do that certainly.”; It was Saturday and on Saturday there are many shoppers so she couldn’t greet.” etc. Criticism in this phase is usually concentrated at management, mystery shopping agency, mystery shoppers and used scenarios and questionnaire.

Phase 2: Acceptance

Acceptance of MS results usually comes after the few waves of mystery shopping have been conducted. Managers find it simply to deny the results of only one visit to spot of sales, concluding that it was “just a bad day” or “the worst employee at shop”. But after several visits done, they can easily notice the level of service at their spot of sales, regardless if it was a bad day or any day in a week.

Acceptance would come faster if management clearly informs all employees about the purpose and goals of mystery shopping and highlight it as a tool for customer service improvement, not as a punishing tool. Commenting on the results with shop managers would also help.

After the mystery shopping results are accepted as significant and useful, at spot of sales improvement can start – first with conversations with employees and then with more complex trainings and improvement programs.

Phase 3: First awards

Although better results in sales are initial goal of mystery shopping, especially after the rewarding system had been implemented, performance of employees gets better and better. Then initial goal should be forwarded to improvement of customer service instead of looking for rewards. That is the moment when first awards will come – higher customer satisfaction (more praises instead of complaints), higher sales, awards for customer service etc.

Phase 4: Cultural indoctrination

Once the company starts getting praises and awards for customer service, the connection between mystery shopping program (that was used as an improvement tool) and these awards will be noticed. Than company at all levels cannot even imagine having lower level of performance or to do business without mystery shopping implemented. This phase is known as cultural indoctrination. Experiences from abroad show us that even if management would like to downsize or cancel mystery shopping program, fieldwork employees ask for it and its return.