Customer Satisfaction Research vs. Mystery Shopping: A Dialogue Revisited

Customer Satisfaction Research vs. Mystery Shopping: A Dialogue Revisited

In our current economy, customer retention is at the forefront of good business strategy. Well-run companies know that keeping customers coming back, even in this difficult economic climate, will ensure success down the road. With so many businesses focusing on customer service strategy and so many approaches to customer experience measurement out there, I am often asked which measurement method works best.

Customer satisfaction research methods include web surveys , phone surveys , Interactive Voice Response (IVR) surveys and the like. Mystery shopping involves sending someone to pose as a customer, interact with people at the site, and then report on their observations. Mystery shopper observations are directed by the program set up and requirements.

The key to knowing which method will work best is to understand how the information will be used. In a nutshell, here are the differences between how the two research methods are used:

  • Customer satisfaction views the organization; mystery shopping views the frontline, unit level
  • Customer satisfaction reports feelings and perceptions; mystery shopping reports performance
  • Customer satisfaction studies inform strategy; mystery shopping studies inform tactics
  • Customer satisfaction studies lead to plans; mystery shopping studies lead to action

Conclusion? Customer satisfaction studies and mystery shopping studies are not good substitutes for one another. If your current focus is on what you should be doing “as a company”, choose customer satisfaction research. If you know what you should be doing and want to make sure your company is actually delivering it, choose mystery shopping.

If you would like to read a more in-depth review about this topic, please see the Quirk’s Marketing Research Review, article entitled “Similar but Different”

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