24-Hour Reporting: Reports/results are delivered or accessible to a client within 24 hours of the store visit. Of course, 48 hour and 72 hour reporting follow the same logic.
Audio Recorded Shops: Shops in which sound is recorded. Could be for either customer service or integrity. Restricted by law in some states.
Competitive Shops: Shops in which a client's competitor is visited and information is noted on the same survey used by the client. Usually requested to compare customer service or pricing with a competitor.
Customer Service Evaluation: The typical mystery shop in which individuals pose as customers. After leaving the facility, the mystery shopper fills out a survey form regarding policy compliance, customer service, selling skills, facility appearance and/or product quality. Also called General Mystery Shopping.
Customer Service Training: Usually requested/conducted as a follow up to mystery shopping. The results of the surveys are tabulated and based on the information acquired, training will focus on areas needing improvement.
Cybershops: Mystery shopping conducted on the internet.
Discrimination Testing: Mystery shops of establishments to collect information on treatment of customers with varying demographics. Sometimes requested by the client to ensure equal treatment, sometimes requested by the government. Depending on the setup of the program, these shops may be restricted by law.
Incentive Based Shopping Program: A mystery shopping program whose results may spur a reward to the employees who were shopped.
Integrity Evaluations: Shops in which employees evaluated covertly are in order to measure/determine their honesty. Usually requested due to a problem and typically focused on the cash transaction between the shopper and a specific employee. Restricted by law in some states. MSPA advises only those with private investigator licensing perform integrity testing.
Internet Performance Evaluation: Utilizes the internet to evaluate performance of internet related transaction. Typically involves measuring email responsiveness to customer inquiry from web site.
Internet Reporting: The capability of a Mystery Shopping company to send reports to the client over the Internet, or the capability of a client to access the reports via the Internet.
IVR (Interactive Voice Response) Reporting: The capability of a Mystery Shopping company to receive reports from shoppers via automated telephone response system. In addition, IVR may be made available to capture comments directly from actual customers, which can be used in conjunction with mystery shopping as a means of measuring customer satisfaction.
Merchandising Audits: Overt or covert visits by representatives who are asked to check merchandising and point of purchase issues; including, but not limited to, the stocking, placement and pricing of specific merchandise and POP materials. Usually requested to ensure policy compliance by either a retail store or the manufacturer of the product.
Mystery Shopping: The use of pre-recruited and qualified consumers (typically independent contractors) or professional staff trained to evaluate a business anonymously using a prescribed evaluation form. The evaluation may take place in person at the business establishment or through other public media such as telephone or internet. Mystery shopping is also referred to as Secret Shopping, Spotter Services, Shopper Programs, Undercover Performance Evaluations, Anonymous Consumers, Shopper Audits, Virtual Customers® and so on.
Operations Audits: Overt/covert evaluation of adherence to operational guidelines. Usually survey based with yes/no questions and supplemental comments. Not based on opinion, rather based on actual policy compliance.
Price Audit: Overt/covert recording of the prices of various products or services. Usually used to evaluate pricing compliance by retailer or manufacturer; or to respond to price changes among competitors.
Questionnaire and Program Design: A service offered by Mystery Shopping or Marketing Research companies in which they assist the client with survey questions and program design. The vendor may make recommendations as to the focus of the shop, the content and wording of the questions, the number and frequency of the shops, reporting formats, incentive programs and the use of the information.
Specific Individual Evaluations: Usually integrity related. A shop requested by a client because there is reason to believe that procedures are not being followed by a specific employee. (Could involve evaluating an employee's adherence to training, whereas employees who graduate from training are targeted for a mystery shop evaluation.)
Telephone Performance Evaluation: Utilizes a survey to covertly evaluate the compliance with telephone procedures of an employee or call center.
Video Recorded Shops: Shops in which video is recorded. Could be for either customer service or integrity. Restricted by law in some states.
Marketing Research Services & Techniques
Customer Satisfaction Measurement: Surveys of a client's actual customers measuring their level of satisfaction with various components on overall satisfaction.
Focus Groups (Qualitative Market Research): Overt meetings of targeted people who are asked to give an opinion or comments on various concepts, products or services. These are often tape- or video-recorded.
Internet Surveys: The posting of a survey on the Internet so that either a shopper can fill it out online; or a client can access the information online.
Mailed Surveys: Surveys that are mailed to a client via the US Postal Service or a private carrier.
On-Site Interviewing: Interviewing of a clients' actual customer base while they are shopping. Typically performed at the entrance/exit of a business establishment. Intercepts: Asking customers questions about the service they have just received as they are exiting an establishment.
Telephone Interviewing (Quantitative Market Research): An interviewer overtly utilizes a survey to ask questions of a statistically representative number of a clients' customers via telephone.
More Mystery Shopping Terminology
Manufacturer's Promotions: Shops in which an employee should suggest a certain brand of product without prompting by the mystery shopper. The shopper requests a product (i.e. spark plugs) without mentioning a specific brand and then notes whether the employee suggests the manufacturer's brand. Usually if the employee suggests the designated brand, the mystery shopper will identify themselves and immediately reward the employee by asking them to sign a cash or gift voucher.
Mock Shop: A practice shop which is almost always unpaid. Some companies require applicants to perform a mock shop in order to evaluate their observation and writing skills.
Mystery Calling: Performing a mystery shop by phone.
Narrative: An account of a shop written in the form of a story as opposed to a closed ended questionnaire.
Questionnaire: The document with the questions to be answered by shoppers. Also called a shopper report, evaluation form, or survey.
Suggestive Selling/Cross Selling: Suggesting an additional item in the process of a sale. For instance, suggesting a pair of socks to go along with a sweater is suggestive selling; or suggesting a Visa to go along with a new checking account.
Up-Sell: Selling of a more expensive item than the one the customer inquired about. For instance, suggesting a larger size beverage is up-selling.