The concept of mystery shopping – having people shop somewhere and report back to the company about the kind of service they got and the presentation of the store – was first put into use in the 1940’s. In the last few years, however, it has become more popular than ever before, as companies seeking to fare the weather of the recession have been doing whatever they can to give their customers the best service and retain them. In the last two years, demand for the services of mystery shoppers has gone up by 40%, and the industry is currently valued at around £70 million per annum. Ora Group, a leading UK marketing consultancy specializing in promotional events, are strong proponents of using mystery shoppers, and even recommend that clients mystery shop them. Here, managing director Obi Shorinwa explains why mystery shopping is such a great tool for businesses.
‘Mystery shopping is a way companies can find out the kind of experience their customers get when they interact with their staff, and that is something that can be very hard to discover without the unbiased view of a mystery shopper. It is not about spying on your staff, but about finding where there are areas in which you could be performing better. It can identify where changes in training or policy could make your business more appealing to the people who visit you.’ Obi Shorinwa of Ora Group began.
When it comes to his recommendation that his own clients should use mystery shoppers on his business when they are at events, Obi Shorinwa explains:
‘People can be nervous about outsourcing something as important as their sales and marketing, and they want to know that their brand is being represented consistently and correctly. Because what we do involves promotions on a face to face basis, it is easy for clients to see how we are behaving in front of their potential customers and what messages we are giving out about their brand. Using mystery shoppers to do this can give them a clear view from an independent person about what we are doing, and this can help them feel confident about our performance, as well as enable them to make any suggestions about how we might tweak things.’
Ora Group are very positive about the ways in which using mystery shopping can help a business, and are also very prepared to be put to the test by their own clients.