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Video Mystery Shopping: Overpriced or Underestimated?
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Video Mystery Shopping: Overpriced or Underestimated?

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Integrity Consultants CEO, Kelly Truelove, discusses video mystery shopping trends from the perspectives of clients, shoppers, and mystery shopping companies. Integrity Consultants is a Mystery …

Integrity Consultants CEO, Kelly Truelove, discusses video mystery shopping trends from the perspectives of clients, shoppers, and mystery shopping companies. Integrity Consultants is a Mystery Shopping and Market Research Service Provider; Member of the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA), National Association for Retail Marketing Services (NARMS), and International Association of Service Evaluators (IASE). Please visit Integrity Consultants on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/integrity.consultants and Market Research Pros at: http://www.facebook.com/groups/MarketResearchPros/ for available jobs, informative articles, discussion and networking with mystery shoppers, service providers, and other industry professionals. Visit Integrity Consultants online at: www.integrityconsultants.us and on Twitter @IntegrityConMRP or LinkedIn at: http://www.linkedin.com/in/ktrueloveintegrityconsultants and http://www.linkedin.com/company/integrity-consultants

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  • 1. Video Mystery Shopping: Overpriced or Underestimated?Video shopping is becoming more and more popular with each passing year. Forming a strongfoundation in the real estate industry for new home buying shops and quickly moving into theautomotive industry, video shopping is now seen across multiple industries, including retail, banking,education, insurance, and even civil services.Video shops are very desirable among clients, because of the perspective it permits. A client can view avideo and observe emotion through facial expression, tone of voice, and body language, things that justdont come through quite as strongly in a written report. Clients get a very good idea of the entirecustomer experience when viewing a video, including everything the customer hears and sees, and evensometimes what the customer feels, like the palpable emotion during the uncomfortable silence beforea greeting or closing. Video takes in so much more than our eyes ever could. It also adds an even greaterdegree of objectivity to a shop. Mystery shoppers in the written world learn very quickly to be objective,report the facts, and not make judgments or assumptions, but at the end of the day, youre still readingan account of that shoppers observations and perceptions. With video, the client is literally watchingthe interaction through the shoppers eyes, free to make his or her own judgments and form opinionsregarding what that client feels is most important.Video also adds an additional layer of verification. Mystery shoppers work very hard, implementing tipsand tricks and developing their own methods to ensure that the information they report is accurate.However, it is not uncommon for there to be an occasional error or inconsistency in a written report.There may also be a situation where so much information is being requested that the shopper justsimply doesnt recall the sign on the wall, or even if it was present. To combat this, mystery shoppingcompanies have extensive quality control measures, where a single report may be reviewed by two oreven three different editors. To ensure quality and accuracy, mystery shopping companies also includecontrol questions on reports. With extensive briefing and sometimes even testing before a shoppercompletes a shop, the shoppers professionalism and practice in the field, and a variety of quality controlmeasures, the occasional error is still possible. When a video shop is performed along with a writtenreport, the quality control team will review that video and compare it against the written report. Thishelps to eliminate the possibility of such errors and adds that extra layer of validation and verification.For shoppers, video is more often than not the preferred format because typically written reportsaccompanying video shops are minimal, the consensus being that theres no need to discuss in writingwhat can easily be seen. Typically, the written reports are required in order to obtain the statistical datathat is used for comparison from one location to the next and one evaluation period to the next. Thiswritten report is where the quantifiable data comes from that clients and mystery shopping companieswill use when making recommendations and discussing progress over time. So, while the numbered andscored questionnaire items may be the same, whats different is typically the amount of narrative thatsrequired. In the written shopping world, the purpose of a narrative is to "tell the story" and give theclient an accurate reporting or "picture" of what took place. With video, that step often becomesminimized, if not obsolete.Typically speaking, video shops are a specialty, provided by only a small handful of mystery shoppingcompanies. Additionally, out of the hundreds of thousands of mystery shoppers working in the fieldeach and every year, there are only a very small percentage of those who are video shoppers. Theres aneven smaller percentage yet of those shoppers who own their own equipment, making it very difficultfor mystery shopping companies to meet their clients service orders and often resulting in overloadedand overworked video shoppers.
  • 2. Most video shoppers are route shoppers, because they have to be, because theres no one else availablein the areas where qualified video shoppers are needed so desperately, and those who choose to bewouldnt necessarily travel as often as they do if the need werent so strong. The positive outcome forthe shopper is that they typically make a very good living, with shops paying $50-$200 each, completingmultiple shops per day, and travel compensation being paid when applicable. With all of this, though,there are still a large number of shops that either dont get completed or dont completed as quickly asboth the mystery shopping company and client would like. The amount of video shopping work availableis growing every day.I believe that the answer to this demand is to have more video shoppers in the field. Video shopping hasalways cost more than traditional written or telephone mystery shops, because of the additional workinvolved, because of the added value it provides, and because it really is a specialty. I understand thatsome video shoppers fear that increasing the number of video shoppers in the field would decreasetheir pay or decrease the amount of work available to them; however, I truly believe that we could see10,000 more video shoppers in the field right now today, and the only changes we would see arecompanies being better able to meet their clients service orders in a timely manner and even moreclients turning to video or utilizing video to supplement their existing programs. I do not anticipate areduction in shopper fees at all. Personally, I feel that video shopping is a specialty niche, and there willalways be a much higher percentage of written shoppers than there are video shoppers, even with ahuge influx, and as such, video shopping will continue to have a higher value to the client, mysteryshopping company, and shopper. In fact, with more video shoppers in the field, mystery shoppingcompanies providing these services would be able to offer them to even more of their clients.Ultimately, and over a long period of time, this could result in video shoppers becoming regionalspecialists and could reduce the amount of travel that clients and companies are having to pay, but Idont believe it would prevent those video shoppers who wanted to continue to travel throughout thecountry from doing so. With the way this part of the industry is growing, we could add 10,000 videoshoppers in the field today and by the end of the year still be facing a shortage of shoppers. Videoshopping is definitely on the rise, and I dont have any reason to think that this trend isnt permanent.Its just one of the many directions that the mystery shopping industry is headed with the help oftechnology.Video Shopping Companies:Automotive Insights - http://www.automotiveinsights.com/Clear Evaluations - www.clearevaluations.comImpact Marketing - www.impact-mrkt.comInstant Replays - www.instant-replays.netIntegrity Consultants - http://www.integrityconsultants.usIntellishop - http://www.intelli-shop.com/LeBlanc & Associates - www.mleblanc.comMeasure Consumer Perspectives - www.measurecp.comMelinda Brody & Company - http://www.melindabrody.com/The Shadow Agency - http://www.theshadowagency.com/
  • 3. To Learn How to Video Shop:Undercover Essentials - Offering Certification Workshopshttp://www.undercoveressentials.orgIndependent Mystery Shoppers Coalition - Offering Video Shopping Instruction at IMSC Conferenceshttp://www.imscinfo.com/To Purchase Equipment:http://www.measurecp.com/store/*The PV500 ECO is currently the standard accepted among video shopping companies and clients.PV500 ECO Kit Comes With:  PV500 ECO DVR  Hi-res button camera with extra buttons  3-hour battery  Remote control  4GB SD card  USB cable  Wall chargerThe camera comes with a one year warranty from the manufacturer.The cost for the kit is currently $400.