My life as a high-end mystery shopper

26 June 2020

Consumer Strategy Director Alex Jones takes on the topic of immersion, and how sitting around talking to a group of consumers is often never the same as pretending to be one.

I was never good at drama at high school, but I’ve found myself acting as part of my day job.

I’m talking about mystery shopping. But not as you’d expect it. I’m talking full immersion, character acting, interrogation of a customer experience and sales competency. Which is where the acting comes in. Need a corporate yuppie looking for his third investment property? A 'cashed-up bogan' covered in tattoos looking for a four car garage? No problem.

When that doesn’t suit, we have a team of strategists that fit every persona – from silver surfers to Gen Z new New Zealanders.

It’s led to some pretty funny situations.

A lot of my history in mystery shopping has been in the real estate space. I’ve spent two hours driving around in a salespersons car, talking about *my* future, my family plans and dreams… all consistent with a persona that doesn’t reflect my life in the slightest. It’s like being an undercover cop… without any of the guns, drugs and suitcases of cash.

So, how is it any different to regular mystery shopping?

1.       You’re not just getting your average Joe

We’re strategists, not just mystery shoppers. We work up crafted personas and stay in character the whole time. We’ve got to deeply understand what would motivate the persona we are trying to play, and anticipate how they’ll react in different situations. How would they dress? What's important to them? A good mystery shopping experience is as good as the background information we have on your customers and their needs.

2.       We get closer to the problem

The value of getting strategists, rather than trained consumers, mystery shopping for you is in the details. Getting a deep understanding of the desired customer experience and how that needs to come to life for everyday people is difficult. Asking questions in the moment, while playing a specific character persona is even harder. We help you uncover those undiscovered insights that make all the difference.

3.       We investigate the entire sales funnel

From meet and greet, to the hard sell, through to follow ups - we score the whole process from 'whoa to go'. This means we can provide inspiration and opportunities to improve at all levels of the business. From front line staff seeing specific examples and focus points, to identifying the tools your salespeople require to succeed every time, to the wider strategic opportunities that present themselves throughout the process. It's a wide and deep view that makes a measurable difference with each successive round.

I’m a staunch believer in the benefits of being fully immersed in a customer’s life, and the insights it can provide a sales team as well as the wider business. Strategist-led mystery shopping does just that - and more. A direct view through the lens of your customer.

It’s a powerful tool to have in your insights playbook, and gives me the opportunity to live my dream of being a secret agent.

Like this article?

If you'd like to hear more, subscribe to Frame or live chat to the team right here on this page. Want to talk about this more with Alex? You can connect with him on LinkedIn!

Tags: Strategy, Immersion, Insights, Mystery Shopper, Personas