As smartphones and mobile usage increases among consumers, businesses are racing to stay at the forefront of technological developments to stay connected with their consumers. This has led to technological developments in the world of mystery shopping that are starting to radically alter the way businesses handle market research.
In the last few years, there have been several technological advances in mystery shopping but perhaps the biggest trend to have emerged is the incorporation of mobile software in day-to-day business operations. Technology has made it possible to integrate total customer experience evaluations that measure what happens at every possible touch point and further more, automate fast distribution via email or web-based reports. Not only can phone calls be digitally recorded and evaluated, but also hidden cameras can capture high-resolution pictures and videos. The advancement is reflected in the reporting system as well. Same day report turnaround with online summary capabilities presenting over 40 formats for real-time reporting and embedded with photos and videos is now possible..
And this is only the beginning. There’s a lot more to come.
The convenience factor of allowing shoppers to fill a survey on their mobile device can dramatically affect response rates so, obviously, optimizing surveys for mobile devices should be a no-brainer. Whether it’s customer satisfaction, mystery shopping or in-store feedback, using mobile technologies can increase response rates to as much as 15 percent, which far surpasses the typical industry standards of one to three percent as per the Mobile Market Research Association. Many mystery shopping providers are having consumers fill out simple online surveys that get texted to their smartphones.
Mobile technology enables super-fast communication and problem solving, which play a key role in preventing negative comments and feedback from going viral on social media.
The older methods of mystery shopping are often riddled with delays and time lags. For instance, taking notes, writing them up and then sending them for analysis is a long process compared with voice recognition or touch technologies on mobile devices, which provide instant feedback in a totally paperless process. For example, when a customer places an order at a restaurant, it’s much easier for the customer to provide real-time feedback on various aspects of the meal right away.
The best technologies feature added benefits beyond the core service. In this sense, the best mystery shopping mobile technologies allow shoppers to upload text, photos, videos or other documents for the richest data set possible. Often the photos are geo-tagged and time stamped, allowing companies to develop bulletproof audit trails and evidence bases for dealing with complaints.
The global market is witnessing a paradigm shift with modern – even, unconventional – practices in market research taking over traditional methods. Today, the mystery shopper often plays the role of a coach, presenting employees with a problem and seeing how they solve it and then consulting the manager on observations and suggested improvements. Or the shopper could be the one presenting an outstanding employee with an award calling for a storewide celebration. As more companies discover mystery shopping, adopt new technologies and develop new ways to use mystery-shopping programs to boost their business; the growth chart will only continue to rise.