The following is a press release from the Mystery Shopping Providers Association:
According to a recent survey of more than 1,100 mystery shoppers, retail stores have not ramped up their level of customer service during the 2005 Holiday Shopping Season. More than 70 percent of mystery shoppers surveyed said they noticed either no difference or less helpfulness from store employees during the Holiday season in comparison with the rest of the year.
The Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA), the largest professional trade association dedicated to the use of mystery shopping, recently conducted a survey of more than 1,100 mystery shoppers and potential mystery shoppers to receive feedback on shopping experiences during the 2005 Holiday shopping season.
“The Holiday season is a great time for retailers to really show off their sales skills and attentiveness to customers,” said David Rich, MSPA President and President of ICC/Decision Services, a mystery shopping provider that specializes in the retail industry. “The holiday season can really be a “make or break” time for retailers. The customer service a shopper receives goes a long way to determining how often the shopper will return the following year.”
Retailers and other companies use mystery shopping to understand and improve the typical customer experience at each of its locations and throughout its organization. Mystery shopping provides an objective “snapshot” of a location based on factual observations using people who know exactly what to look for before conducting their evaluations.
When it comes to simply welcoming customers to the store, more than 40 percent of mystery shoppers said they were greeted in less than one minute of entering the store during their last shopping experience. However, some stores still fail in this area – nearly a quarter of mystery shoppers were not greeted at all during their most recent shopping trip.
Up-selling is another area where stores could improve. When asked if the sales associate recommended complementary products once the shopper had decided on a purchase, more than 77 percent of mystery shoppers said no.
“Up-selling is a critical revenue-generating behavior that needs to be reinforced with employees, not just during the Holiday season, but throughout the entire year.” said Rich. “Through mystery shopping, employers can locate short-falls in critical elements of their sales routine that ultimately will help increase the bottom line.”
The good news for employers, amidst the hustle and bustle of holiday shoppers: retail employees are managing to keep the appearance of their stores at an above average level. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, more than 40 percent of shoppers rated the stores they visited at an 8 or higher.
Do all of these customer service elements really make a difference for retailers? According to mystery shoppers, the total customer experience proved to be a key element in determining the likelihood of returning to a store. More than 40 percent of mystery shoppers said a positive customer service experience made them more likely to shop at the store again.
About the MSPA
With more than 180 member companies worldwide, the MSPA has a diverse membership, including marketing research and merchandising companies, private investigation firms, training organizations and companies that specialize in providing mystery shopping services. Its goals are to establish professional standards and ethics for the industry, educate providers, clients and shoppers to improve quality of service, improve the image of the industry and promote the membership to other industry associations and prospect clients.