Be Cautious of “Industry Standards” in Mystery Shopping

 

Often times potential clients or new clients will ask “how do we rank among our competitors” when it comes to mystery shopping scores. On a similar note, some companies only want to work with mystery shopping providers who special in a specific vertical, whether it be banking, fine dining, etc.

 

In some cases it is possible to get this information, at least on a general level. However, it is wise to be cautious when looking at this data. It may not be a truly relevant statistic.

 

Why is that?

 

Let’s consider a few things that may apply to your mystery shopping program and explain how this can affect an “industry standard”:

 

1. Is it truly an “apples to apples” comparison? In order for your company to be able to benchmark yourselves against others in your industry, you will need to make sure that the metrics and questions on your mystery shopping report are the same across competitors. That being said, most companies have a customized program since their business may be very different from their competitors. This is the same when a company requests competitor shops using the same program for their locations and their competitors…you cannot necessarily take that data, compare it, and come to the conclusion that “we’re better than them” because they had low overall percentages. Those scores are based on your company’s standards, not the competition’s. If competitive shops (or gathering benchmark data) is done in this way, it needs to be used for intelligence only, meaning that you can get insight into what they’re doing, and the shopper’s perceptions and reactions, but as far as usable data, this doesn’t give you a lot to work with.

 

2. Beware of overgeneralizations. one solution to the above is to gather benchmark data or industry standards based on those questions that are similar across programs within the industry. Yes, there are many questions that will be the same or very similar in nature. It is possible to take the data from those questions and benchmark it across a vertical. Just be cautious to make sure the questions are exactly the same and there are enough questions to make it effective.

 

3. Use progress as an example instead. This doesn’t need to be industry specific at all, but you could find data that shows the effectiveness of a mystery shopping program over time in order to gauge your progress once a program is started. For example, you could find data that shows a company who uses a mystery shopping program to benchmark their performance levels prior to a training program. They can then repeat the study after the training is complete to collect post-training performance data. When this data is compiled and averaged out, you may learn that performance percentages typically increase by an average of 10% when training is put in place. It will give you some idea of what you might be able to expect from your training program.

 

Everyone loves numbers (I’m a fan myself), and we tend to gauge decisions and progress on data. However, in the mystery shopping industry, this is not as easy as you may think because each program has different objectives and is customized. Using the analytical reporting features that come with your mystery shopping program will be the best bet when it comes to benchmarking your employees’ performance over time.

 

 

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