If your business is new to mystery shopping, you might be tempted to find the lowest-cost provider out there. But there are huge sacrifices in quality with bargain-basement providers.
As we’ve discussed before, cheaper services always prove to be more expensive in the end due to hidden costs of shoddy work, which is why we argue that quality trumps cost when it comes to mystery shopping.
Businesses should be familiar with two main concepts in the industry, the marketplace of shops and the marketplace of shoppers.
The Marketplace of Shops
Mystery shopping is conducted by many businesses across a multitude of industries. So in any town, there may be hundreds of mystery shops occurring on any day.
Thus, your assignments exist in a marketplace with many other assignments. And as with any other marketplace, there is competition.
Experienced customer service evaluators (aka, shoppers) sign up with many shopping companies, and receive many assignment offers every day.
So how do the shoppers decide which assignments to accept and which to refuse?
The best shoppers develop a keen understanding of the relative value of the assignments in their area, and they understand that some assignments offer better value (more money for the work) than others.
Consequently, talented shoppers will know immediately if your assignment is underpaying (in which case they will avoid it) or offering fair compensation (in which case they will accept it).
The Marketplace of Shoppers
Mystery shopping is an art, and some evaluators are simply better at it than others.
The best shoppers prepare thoroughly, act naturally, possess awesome observational skills, and write highly detailed reports.
When done well, a mystery shopping report can make you feel like you conducted the evaluation.
But not all mystery shoppers are that good.
Your objective is to enter the marketplace of shoppers and make sure to get the best ones, as they will provide the best feedback, and consequently, the best input for improving your business.
But how do you that?
Setting the Price
Landing the best evaluators is simply a matter of offering competitive compensation relative to the other assignments in their area. It’s really that simple.
If you want the most talented and experienced shoppers accepting your assignments, offer enough compensation so that they recognize the superior value of your assignments.
The Consequences of Cutting Corners
Like any industry, cost is a major factor in mystery shopping.
Clients need to understand that the “savings” promised by cut-rate providers usually don’t stem from greater efficiency or know-how, but from offering less money to the shoppers.
But once you understand the marketplace of shops and the marketplace of shoppers, you quickly realize the gaping flaw in this plan.
Paying less on your assignments means that the best shoppers will avoid them, which means that your assignments will only be accepted by shoppers who are inexperienced or desperate enough to accept them.
Consequently, the quality of your reports drops, negating the program’s ability to actually improve your business.
So keep in mind the marketplace of shops and the marketplace of shoppers, and your program should thrive.
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[Update: We received the following email from one of our readers/shoppers commening on this post:
- "Very nice article, Ziggy. I agree totally. I turned down a merchandising opportunity just yesterday because it was not even close to valuable to me. ME and TMG are the best when it comes helping clients set an appropriate value for the shopper to consider." -MM
Thanks so much for the feedback!!! -ZZ]