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Tailoring mystery shopping questionnaires to business needs

Boosting sales, fine-tuning the customer experience and bolstering employee morale are all excellent benefits that result from businesses employing mystery shoppers.

But a mystery shopping report is only useful if a business asks the right questions, said the Mystery Shoppers Manual. Accurate write-ups aren't necessarily beneficial reports. Even the most detail-oriented shoppers need a guide for identifying the information most tailored to their clients.

Set up for success
Before employing mystery shoppers, businesses should have a very clear outline of the information they hope to gather. Maximizing the usefulness of a shopper report starts with creating a specific questionnaire.

When designing a secret shopper survey, how do businesses know what makes a good question? What information will help them take sales-boosting actions?

This may be a matter of trial and error. Apply the common advice of beginning with what one knows. Keeping up on the latest customer service trends will definitely help in the initial design of a questionnaire. Since businesses can expect to enact multiple mystery shopping trips, there's room for revising the questionnaire after each successive report.

Identify necessary information
The most important thing is to corroborate shoppers' reports with sales numbers. If the two don't match up, ask why. High scores regarding the organization of a store might be accurate, but that information is only useful if the appearance of shelves is impacting sales. If sales are down in spite of a correct report, then a business needs to ask new questions in order to find the reason behind the dipping numbers.

Though swept floors and stocked bathrooms are important, service reigns supreme - a good thing to keep in mind when crafting questionnaires.

Make the most of shopper reports
The first tenet of good service is whether a customer feels wanted upon entering a store, reported the Guardian. Mystery shoppers can identify how swiftly they are greeted upon entering a store, and whether an employee imparted pressure to buy something or simply offered a pleasant hello.

Next, customers want to speak with knowledgeable employees, said Kevin Peters of Office Depot. When mystery shoppers offer reports on employees' familiarity with products, businesses can best assess whether their employees are well-suited to their assigned departments. The content of a report allows managers to implement product education into their employee training.

The above examples give good starting points for businesses developing mystery shopping programs. Asking the right questions will lead to the right results.