Is this mystery shopping? Or not?

We quite often see ‘mystery shopping services’ for the spa sector set at incredibly low fees and we thought ‘how can these companies possibly be offering the same service as ours at such a low price?’ So this month we have been doing a bit of ‘investigative journalism’ to find out what’s going on in our sector. Firstly, let’s consider the costs

involved in mystery shopping.

The cost of mystery shopping

There are costs involved in mystery shopping and these costs can vary depending upon a variety of factors.

The length of the survey

The type and length of the survey will have an impact on price. Some businesses request a very short survey and want to gain insight into customer service levels. Perhaps how quickly the telephone is answered, or whether the correct information is given at the time of purchase or booking. Other spa owners and managers prefer a more in-depth

report to get more of a ‘feel’ for what it’s like when a customer visits their spa. Longer surveys means more areas to assess and more time to develop and complete a report, which takes time and therefore costs a little more.

Experienced Mystery Shoppers

The experience of the mystery shopper is also of importance. We have lots of mystery shoppers on our database, all of whom are briefed and trained in mystery shopping techniques and requirements. A customer service mystery shopper is excellent at giving meaningful feedback to the business owner on a wide variety of topics including

customer care, following of the company’s procedures and protocols through to the feedback and follow up information. An expert mystery shopper will be someone who has extensive experience in the spa and beauty industry and who is capable of

benchmarking against industry standards as well as the points outlined above. Expert mystery shoppers are a more scarce commodity than customer service mystery shoppers, and this makes the service slightly more costly.

Location, location, location

Location is important for cost too. If your spa is in a hard-to-reach area then travel costs may be significantly higher. A spa in an area with a dense population usually means we have more mystery shoppers on our database which keeps travel costs down. For

example, a spa in central London will be much easier to reach than one in the Outer Hebrides attracting greater travel costs.  Believe it or not we don’t have many mystery shoppers on our database in the Outer Hebrides!

What’s included in the price of your mystery shop?

At Hidden Beauty UK we offer a bespoke service. That is to say, the report form is

developed with your business at the heart of it to give you the information that is most useful to your spa. We believe in treating all our customers as individuals. The cost of your mystery shop includes the time it takes discuss and develop a meaningful report format for you and your business.

The mystery shopping fee also includes the allocation of a suitable mystery shopper to meet your needs. We search our database for the best shoppers who are closest to your business. We have hundreds of shoppers, and we take care to select the people who will best suit the assignment.

On completion of the visit the report forms are checked and any areas which need

further detail are addressed with the mystery shopper.

Once you have received your report form we allocate time to go through any points with you on the telephone should you need clarification.

So why are some mystery shops so cheap?

With all this in mind, why are some mystery shops for spas so cheap? Well, we found a variety of answers.

Short surveys

Some of the surveys were very short, only giving a very brief and superficial overview of the experience. In contrast, others were very lengthy but formatted in a way that was not easy to assess the information at a glance or to compare several reports together. We know that spa managers and owners are busy people and need the information to be laid out in a coherent manner and that allows them see progress from visit to visit.

‘One-size-fits-all’ report

Most of the report forms we saw were ‘off the peg’ forms. That is to say that the report forms were not bespoke for the business. We know that a ‘one size fits all’ is not the way to go as no two businesses are the same. What one spa feels is important to assess may not be as crucial to another. One of our customers commented that from a previous mystery shopping company one of the questions on presentation related to the wearing of name badges. As the wearing of a name badge was one fifth of the overall staff presentation score this meant that the staff scored low in personal presentation. The wearing of name badges was not important to this luxury spa as they felt that the

wearing of name badges is not in keeping with their branding. They train their

Therapist’s to personally introduce themselves by name to the guests and so the report form was built to include this important aspect under Customer Care, instead of

Personal Presentation.

Calibre of mystery shoppers

If having a mystery shopper who has experience in the beauty or spa sector is important for your business then some company’s do not have these experts on board. Hidden Beauty UK differentiates between all the different types of mystery shoppers on the database and selects the right candidate for the assignment; no more, no less.

Hidden costs for spa mystery shopping

We are Hidden Beauty, not Hidden Costs! Some companies omit to inform that there may be additional costs involved such as extra travel costs. Our costs are transparent and are agreed ahead of the assignment taking place.

Spa Consultancy

Last, but certainly not least is Spa Consultancy thinly disguised as Mystery Shopping. We found this with quite a few companies who supplied mystery shopping for spas. The cost of the mystery shop was extremely cheap as it was being used as a ‘loss leader’ to gain consultancy work. What better for a Spa Consultant to go into a spa as a Mystery

Shopper and highlight all the areas for ‘development’ which they can supply in the form of spa consultancy.

Choosing the right mystery shopping company

With all this in mind choose the mystery shopping company that only fits your budget but suits your needs as a company and allows you to best assess what is happening in your spa.

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