Clients arguing what to ask on a mystery shop
January 17, 2023

Mystery Shopping and Audits – which do you need?

Mystery Shopping and Audits are very different services, each with their own benefits. The services can be easily confused and sadly, sometimes they are combined. As Australia’s leading mystery shopping and customer satisfaction provider, Above Benchmark carefully designs all of our programs around the needs, wants, and expectations of our clients. 


Let’s break down needs, wants and expectations.


A client needs to understand what customers are experiencing when they visit their business. In addition, they expect insight into how to evaluate and improve the customer service experience. They may also want to check that all lightbulbs are working and the bottom shelves are dust-free. However, these latter questions are more appropriate for an audit. When included, they clog up a mystery shopping survey, taking attention away from the most important points – the service and experience. 


A mystery shopping survey should focus on customer service and the experience. 


A mystery shopper is not a robot with a photographic memory. They can’t read their survey or make notes while they’re conducting the mystery shop. They’re regular people who want to help businesses improve their service and frankly, they’re pretty impressive. 


We provide our shoppers with detailed instructions, a scenario to follow, key information to look out for, and a few audit-style questions to observe. They must read and remember all these things before they do the mystery shop. Then they have to remember everything that happened during the mystery shop so they can put it in their report. 


With so much to remember, it’s important to steer clients back to their needs and expectations when they ask us to include too many audit-style questions on their mystery shop.


Audit-style questions have their place, but it’s not in the mystery shop.


Several better options exist for assessing compliance issues, freeing up our mystery shoppers to concentrate on providing accurate and thoughtful feedback. Consider sending company representatives to check store presentation and compliance. Retail staff could also send photos to confirm that they were in compliance with current promotions. Customers can also be asked if they noticed a specific promotion in customer satisfaction surveys. 


The best practice is not to include these questions in the mystery shop. For every audit-style question a mystery shopper has to remember we risk them forgetting something about the service and experience. 


Mystery Shopper being asked to remember too much
Asking too many questions will overwhelm the Mystery Shopper and they won’t be able to remember everything.


To get the best result from your Mystery Shopping program, don’t add too many audit-style or compliance questions, unless they directly relate to the customer’s experience.


Both mystery shopping and audits have their purpose and you shouldn’t combine or confuse them. A good Mystery Shopping provider will discuss this during the design process.


If you want to learn more about our mystery shopping programs or audit surveys, give us a call or contact us here.


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