Mystery shopper visit. How to properly prepare and conduct a customer focus study of sellers
29.01.2019 18040

Mystery shopper visit. How to properly prepare and conduct a customer focus study of sellers

The success of your trading company depends on how your sellers work. You can produce cool, trendy shoes, or be exclusive distributors of it, your stores can be stylish and beautiful, your marketers can tirelessly come up with interesting promotions for customers, but all efforts will go to waste if the staff is impolite and unprofessional. Competence, friendliness and friendliness, communication skills and much more can and should be checked and tested using various methods. One of the most effective and reliable is the Mystery Shopper study. About how to prepare and conduct it competently, says expert SR, a specialist in the management and development of fashion business, Maria Gerasimenko.

Maria Gerasimenko Maria Gerasimenko -

General Director of Fashion Advisers, business coach, expert in the field of management and development of fashion business. Main areas of activity: building business processes in the fashion industry, assortment matrix management, visual merchandising, sales and service management, development and implementation of loyalty programs.


Online school:

Telegram: @fashionadvisers

“We know our employees well. They work correctly, they know how to sell and love buyers! ”- this phrase can often be heard from owners and managers of the shoe business in consultations, trainings and business programs. There were cases when customers convinced the competence and customer orientation of their staff so much that the next day we went straight to their store to see for ourselves these rare sellers with innate customer focus and excellent sales skills. This was usually followed by disappointment. “What do you want to tell?”, “Wear it with pleasure!”, “What did you think when you bought it?” - this turned out to be a standard, banal set of phrases that we heard when we returned the goods in advance. 

It often happens that personnel in the presence of management behave in one way, and in private with customers in a completely different way. There are many different methods to find out what kind of service your customers are actually receiving: surveys, telephone surveys, installing hidden cameras and monitoring video recordings, and Mystery Shopper research.

Many of the above methods of researching the quality of service and customer service are probably familiar to you. But the owners of the retail business have an ambiguous attitude towards the Mystery Shopper. Someone treats him with trepidation and aspiration (perhaps because of the name of this study), someone is sure that for feedback, it is enough to ask a girlfriend / friend to visit the store with a secret mission, and then ask about the details for a cup of coffee and someone, once using the services of an incompetent specialist, a “mystery shopper,” decided that it all makes no sense at all, there’s no reason to conduct this research and spend money on it.

Define a goal first

In fact, for all the romance of the name and apparent simplicity, this study must be carried out in compliance with certain regulations.

First, the Mystery Shopper study, like other studies, should have a clear goal. It could be:

  1. Testing the application of sellers skills acquired during the training.
  2. Checking a single employee of the sales area for customer focus.
  3. Assessment of the general atmosphere of customer focus of the store.
  4. Verification of compliance with visual merchandising requirements.
  5. Checking sales staff for honesty.

Of course, these five points are not limited to the Mystery Shopper’s goals; in fact, the goal can be anything from the wide range of business tasks that are set for the retail company.

Develop terms of reference and work criteria

As soon as the goal is determined, we proceed to the formation of the technical task - with the help of what actions and questions the secret buyer will be able to obtain the necessary information and achieve the goals. Whether the mystery shopper will be conflicting, phlegmatic, arrogant or a manipulator is determined precisely at this stage. Further, on the basis of the technical specifications, a questionnaire for the mystery buyer is formed.

It is important that your mystery shopper fills out this questionnaire within 30 minutes after visiting the store. Otherwise, the human factor will make its own adjustments to the results of the study, and they will no longer be reliable.


according to the results of the study "Mystery shopper" *

Store address:

Observation time

Employee (indicate name):

Day of the week: 

1. What did the employee do when the client logged in?

2. Employee call time to client

3. Greeting

4. Contact form:

5. Smile / friendliness

6. The quality of the conversation with the client

7. The manner of communication (emotional background) of the seller with the buyer

8. Solving a customer request (Stages and techniques)

9. General competency

9.1. Knowledge of goods and assortment

9.2. The final stage, the reaction to failure

9.3. Final impression of service

10. The interior of the store:

Additional notes / Notes:

Come up with a legend

After drawing up the questionnaire, the legend of the mystery buyer is developed - we come up with a story for the buyer: who he is, what his needs, preferences, fears and features are. In practice, things happened differently: we carried out checks with crying wives who returned the goods, since the husband did not allow him to carry; there were arrogant girls of model appearance who constantly cursed at the staff and showed their arrogance; there were quiet, ordinary, mystery shoppers who controlled the fraud on the part of the sellers.

Who is suitable for the role of a mystery shopper?

Further, when the terms of reference are drawn up, the questionnaire is formed, and the legend is selected, it is the turn to choose the contractor. This is a very important stage of the study, because now it is clear how important it is for a mystery shopper to be competent in the features of a shoe store before giving an expert assessment of the work of employees and the store. So friends in this vast majority of cases are not suitable, unless they are experts in fashion retail. And then the question arises: where to find such employees, specialists? The performer must have certain knowledge in psychology, be artistic, attentive, and, of course, perfectly know the subject of verification. It is not easy to find such people right away, so you can order the Mystery Shopper service from professionals, or train your full-time performers in special courses. Keep in mind that a mystery shopper is a mystery because sellers should not recognize him. Therefore, the same employee cannot visit the store more than twice and remain incognito.

Example shopping plan:

  1. Mystery shopper enters, greets only if the seller greeted.
  2. He looks around in the store, slowly getting to know the assortment.
  3. If there was no initiative from the seller to help with the choice, invite the seller for consultation.
  4. Carefully inspects the proposed models, periodically inserts “phrases of the mystery shopper” (see below)
  5. Determined with the choice, approaches the checkout.
  6. Continues to carefully examine the model.
  7. Refuses to purchase with the words "I will still think and come another time."

Some phrases of a secret buyer that should be heard in the process of communicating with the seller:

  1. Wow! Why so expensive? Even in a boutique on Leninsky I saw the same shoes much cheaper ...
  2. What material are these boots / boots / shoes / sneakers made of?
  3. In which country is this produced? - Are you seriously? This is China pure water!
  4. Girl, I am surprised at you! The price of this bag is crazy, and the quality leaves much to be desired!
  5. I see that this is not leather, but a real oilcloth! Why are you hanging noodles on my ears? (say not too aggressively, with dignity, without raising your voice)
  6. Do you know that in the online store these shoes can be bought much cheaper? Therefore, I will try on you, and then buy from them!

REMEMBER! When conducting research, it is important to carry out video, audio recording and photography. Without this evidence, the Mystery Shopper will be invalid.

This article was published in the 145 issue of the print version of the magazine.

The success of your trading company depends on how your sellers work. You can produce cool, trendy shoes, or be exclusive distributors of it, your ...
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