Video Mystery Shopping

Video Mystery Shopping is becoming an increasingly popular management tool, for businesses in many different industries, and it’s easy to see why. This page contains some introductory information about the subject. If you prefer to talk than read though, please give us a call on 01392 984224.

In recent years the technology needed to make Video Mystery Shopping practical has become much more available, and affordable. This includes covert video recording equipment itself, costing as little as £500 for a complete kit, and even the cost of high capacity memory cards, and access to secure cloud storage.

On the demand side, the advantages to businesses are also clear.

Having a customer experience and staff interaction “filmed” and on the record clearly takes away any doubt (and any argument) about what did or did not take place.

Video recording also allows businesses to clearly see and understand some of the more subtle nuances of each interaction with a staff member (body language, tone of voice, facial expressions, etc.).

Feedback that is filmed is clearly “richer” than a written description, and even compared to the most skilled mystery shopper, the record is more detailed and reliable.

As well as helping business owners and managers to literally “see” first-hand the standard of service being delivered to customers / potential customers (and the real attitude of staff), Video Mystery Shopping can help them to identify and improve whether appropriate sales opportunities are being consistently pursued and effectively converted, and the levels of operational efficiency (bottle necks and sticking points).

The Benefits and Outcomes

Video Mystery Shopping in itself only provides businesses with information. Of course, information must be acted on to produce changes or improvements, but providing appropriate action is taken, the returns can dwarf the small investment, and include:

  • Improvements in customer satisfaction (and in turn customer loyalty).
  • Increases in sales (e.g. conversion rates, add-on sales, and up-selling).
  • Improvements in operational efficiency.

Clearly these are all key areas to any business, and improvements can be both rapid and significant. But the results can (and do) go further still.

The reputation of any brand large or small depends, more directly than ever, on the quality of the customer experience, and the delivery of the “brand promise”. If there are failings in the customer experience, the impact (of either addressing these or not doing so) can be pivotal to the future fortunes of the business.

As with report-based Mystery Shopping, another often-overlooked benefit is in helping organisations to control reduce costs (e.g. marketing, PR, lead generation and customer acquisition) and to more effectively allocate finite resources (e.g. training and development, direct staff costs themselves).

Overall, there are many very significant potential benefits.

Varied applications

As with “standard” report-based mystery shopping, the applications of Video Mystery Shopping are many and varied. Video Mystery Shopping can be used to great effect in any of the industries that commonly use report-based mystery shopping, including retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism, medical care, elder care, optical care, automotive, legal and professional services, transport, property sales and lettings, and many more besides.

Gaining the most powerful insights depends on choosing the right scenario and the right approach. This requires some thought and care, and often some creativity.

The team at Customerwise have experience in organising projects for complex multi-stage sales scenarios like those in optical care and motoring. We’ve also dealt with some of the most unique businesses (with complex multi-stage customer journeys), particularly in the travel, leisure and tourism industries.

Costs, risks, and other considerations

The following deserve a mention and should be considered by any business considering the use of Video Mystery Shopping.

Of course there is a financial cost attached to any programme of Mystery Shopping, but these costs can be easily controlled, and at any sensible level, the return on investment will be certain and significant.  What probably deserves more thought at the outset is the potential effect on staff and their morale.

Effect on staff and staff morale

Employers have different approaches to this. Some employers assert that it’s their absolute, unequivocal right to see exactly what their customers experience and how their staff are performing in their roles. On the other hand, some employers are understandably sensitive to the potential reactions of staff.

Employers are legally required to inform staff if they are going to be filming them (or arranging for them to be filmed) at work.

Of course, even when told about it, individuals don’t all love the idea of being “secretly filmed”. It is important therefore to have an open and frank discussion about the goals and purpose of any Mystery Shopping programme. Generally, the more of a customer-focused culture exists already, the more open staff members are likely to be to the idea of Mystery Shopping (including video-recorded) activity. Another thing that often helps to bring staff “on board”,  or at least reduce resistance, is some sort of reward structure for good performance. This can help foster an atmosphere of healthy competition.

A crucial point

One thing that should be remembered with Video Mystery Shopping, as with report-based Mystery Shopping:

The only things that are being recorded are the things that customers see.

Of course, this doesn’t include any “private moments” because private moments would not take place in front of a customer. The only things that get recorded in a Video Mystery Shopping visit, are the things that staff members are happy to have happen “on show” in front of ordinary everyday customers. We believe this is an important things to remember.

It’s also resonable for any employer to expect that staff members who are customer facing, or exposed to customers should try to perform at their best and create a positive impression at all times.

We discuss the ethics of Mystery Shopping in more detail, as well as tips for how to best handle and prepare for a programme of Mystery Shopping,  elsewhere on this website.

Why Customerwise

The quality of a B2B service can really only be judged through its delivery. Often it really comes down to the general competence of your primary contact, and how much they care; whether they take time to really understand your goals, and then work diligently as a part of your team to help you achieve your objectives, solve problems, and spot new opportunities.

At Customerwise we pride ourselves in exceeding expectations in those areas. But we don’t expect anyone to just take our word for it.

We normally offer new clients our unique, simple, no-risk guarantee:

If for any reason you aren’t 100% impressed with the service we provide, we’ll provide you with a refund or we’ll credit your invoice, with no quibbles.

So call us now on 01392 984224 for an informal chat about your requirements, or to just exchange some initial thoughts and ideas, or contact us online.