Demystifying mystery shopping graphicThere’s a lot of buzz around big data. All that buzz has inspired more and more companies to utilize mystery shopping as yet another way to collect data. However, what is often overlooked in a rush to collect data is that data for data sake doesn’t move the needle. In fact, without a clear strategy, methodology, and approach, mystery shopping often results in useless data that muddies the water, rather than clarifying it. Let’s dive into a mystery shopping case study to see how Kinetic helped one client demystify the data.

The task at hand
Kinetic recently took the lead on a client’s existing in-person mystery shopping program. The automotive industry client came to us, because the mystery shopping data they were collecting wasn’t helping them identify how to improve at retail.

The program goal was to determine why sales had not increased despite a significant increase in website leads as the result of a new advertising campaign. The hypothesis was that something was going wrong at the dealership. After all, the dealers were acquiring more leads, so why weren’t sales increasing? Unsure of the answer, the client turned to in-person mystery shopping, conducting mystery shops in their top 100 markets. However, at the conclusion of the shops, they found themselves with a pile of data, no closer to an answer to their question or a solution to their problem.

Assessing and updating the approach and methodology
We began by reviewing the current methodology and approach to assess how these two elements aligned with the overall goal of the mystery shop. We quickly found that while the in-person shopping approach was a good start, there were important components missing, and the methodology was flawed. Together, these two misses had created the perfect [data] storm.

Let’s take a look at the key components of the mystery shopping approach and methodology that formed the storm.

  1. Type of shops
    By limiting the mystery shop to strictly in-person shopping, they weren’t considering all of the customer touchpoints between lead capture and when the prospect entered the dealership. This approach falsely assumed that 100% of the leads came in to the dealership. To resolve this, we added online and phone mystery shops to the program. Adding these additional shops allowed us to consider prospect attrition that occurred before the in-dealership experience and better assess the buyer’s journey from lead through decision.
  2. Shopper selection
    In reviewing the methodology, we found that mystery shoppers were selected based on an experience rating, availability, and geographic location. However, the shoppers selected did not accurately reflect the company’s target buyer. To resolve this, we created shopper profiles then hired and trained customer “look-a-like” mystery shoppers.
  3. Questionnaire assessment
    There were also flaws in the questionnaires that shoppers completed at the end of their shopping experience. These questionnaires largely centered on the shoppers’ perceptions (more dangerously known as “opinions”). In addition, the questions were not structured to account for shoppers’ individual biases, and there were very few qualitative questions.To glean actionable data from results, we restructured the questionnaire, adding more opportunities to gather qualitative information and building in questions to help account for shopper perceptions.

Using the revised mystery shopping approach and methodology, we were able to analyze the data and create a clear picture that answered the original question: why aren’t sales increasing proportionately to leads?

Care to guess the answer we found?

The results of our revised approach and methodology
For starters, the advertising campaign was designed to attract young, entry-level professional buyers. And while the campaign was doing its job and attracting the target audience, it turns out that even the savviest dealers failed to live up to the communication expectations of the younger targeted buyer. As a result, many potential customers lost interest before they even walked through the doors of the dealership. This key piece of the puzzle couldn’t have been uncovered using in-person shopping.

We also discovered that the sales process being used by the well-meaning dealership sales professionals was far too long and too slow for this new, younger audience. These customers wanted two things: 1. to test drive the car, and 2. to make a deal—and they wanted to do it quickly. They’d already researched the vehicle extensively and considered competitive options. They also knew what they wanted to pay and how they were going to do it—all they needed was a salesperson to facilitate the sale at their pace.

Actionable results for our client
Armed with this knowledge, our client confidently made decisions about what programs to implement in order to turn the tide and begin increasing sales. Using a combination of customer persona training and lead conversion incentives, over the course of 12 months, the lead conversion rate of the new product increased to within five percentage points of their flagship product. These results far exceeded the initial goal.

If your mystery shopping program isn’t helping you make decisions with confidence, contact us today for a free, no-obligation second look.

Learn more about our mystery shopping services.

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