What is Video Mystery Shopping?

What is Video Mystery Shopping and how does it work?

Before introducing mystery shopping to your business or organisation, you will probably have come across the term ‘video mystery shopping’ whilst in the research phase. Video mystery shopping has many of the same benefits of non-video; shoppers matching your typical customer demographic visit your sites, assess their experience and you receive the full assessment with summary reporting to boot. Video mystery shopping renders a whole extra, fresh dimension to assessments, giving you the opportunity to experience the interaction as if you were there. Backed up by an accompanying assessment form, you can fully understand the experience that customers have because you’ll actually be able to see and hear exactly what a customer does, as the shopper will be wearing a covert camera whilst carrying out their assignment.

Video mystery shopping is rapidly increasing in popularity as businesses and organisations seek to ensure that every customer interaction is as positive as possible. The video footage can be used as examples of best practice and included as part of employee training. Many businesses also use their video mystery shopping assessments to recognise the contributions their employees are making and some have introduced reward schemes based on the results. 

How does video mystery shopping work?

Mystery Shoppers Ltd has developed a professional team of covert agents who can cover all corners of the UK and Ireland.  Their experiences are captured using state of the art recording equipment and uploaded to our secure FTP server within hours of the visit being completed.  If any visit does not meet our extremely high standards, then it will be repeated at no extra cost to the client.

Video mystery shopping is not as costly or complicated to introduce as you may think. The process can be broken down into 5 simple steps:

1. Once we are given the go ahead and our client’s staff have been informed, we’ll send in fully trained video mystery shoppers.

2. The shoppers interact with staff members and record their experience using covert recording equipment.

3. Shoppers submit their recordings and completed assessments to us.

4. Each video is edited appropriately and each assessment from is quality controlled.

5. We publish the videos on the online reporting portal with the assessment results.

All of our video shoppers are trained and fully briefed on each project, and are able to comfortably fill a variety of roles to suit any client requirement.

But are they real customers?

They can be! Video mystery shoppers often accompany genuine customers that we have recruited to record their experience, so that the interactions are more realistic e.g. a video mystery shopper and a genuine customer appearing as a couple.  This technique has been used in programmes for car dealerships, care homes, hearing aid centres and retailers. 

But Video Mystery Shopping is Scary.

Video Mystery Shopping does not have to be scary! Most people may have preconceptions about Video Mystery Shopping as being somewhat sneaky, or there to catch people out, but this is simply not the case, in fact quite the opposite!

Across all methods and channels of mystery shopping, MSL believe in promoting a positive attitude towards it. Mystery shopping is an impartial and unbiased, factual tool, there to capture experiences, gather insights and data, and identify key areas where improvements can be implemented for the good of everyone. In fact, once staff know that mystery shopping is taking place, it is their chance to show what they’re really capable of. Mystery shopping can capture very positive customer experiences that may have otherwise gone unnoticed, enabling managers to acknowledge this and positively feedback to the staff member.

Some of MSL’s clients use video mystery shopping towards staff reward schemes, bonuses, and even for annual awards ceremonies, so a positive staff buy-in is essential. Video mystery shopping is everybody’s chance to find out what they could do better, how to do it, and achieve a win-win situation for both customers and staff alike.

But does Video Mystery Shopping breach GDPR?

The short answer is no! If done correctly, video mystery shopping is perfectly legitimate.

Mystery Shoppers Ltd follow strict guidelines, such as the CCTV Code of Practice, MSPA Code of Ethics and Professional Standards, and the MRS Code of Conduct, to ensure that video mystery shopping is conducted in such a way that it is ethical, productive and not harmful. 

A key point to mention at this stage is that, in accordance with the MRS Code of Conduct, staff must be made aware that mystery shopping will be taking place, which will record information and personal data by means of assessment forms and/or video and audio files. Staff do not need to know where, when or by what method their personal data may be recorded, just that it will be recorded by potentially all or some of the aforementioned channels. Should clients’ staff request any of their rights to data, Mystery Shoppers Ltd will of course comply and fulfil such requests.

Videos of staff are considered biometric data, so therefore, Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs) are completed during the programme set up. DPIAs are required to ensure the processing of the data is necessary, minimal and not kept for longer than required. Due to the environment of video mystery shopping, it’s possible that other customers may be filmed inadvertently (although won’t be identifiable by anyone who doesn’t know them personally, which would be extremely rare!), so the DPIA is there to ensure that this is taken into consideration before any processing takes place.

Because it is sometimes possible that customers are also being filmed during the visit, all footage is Quality Controlled and amended, if necessary, to ensure only relevant footage is captured to minimise any risk. Any footage deemed derogatory, demeaning or upsetting will be removed – only the customer experience will be recorded… cue the MSL Video Edit Team!

So, to summarise, video mystery shopping can be your eyes and ears on the ground, saving you valuable time and effort because let’s face it, you’ve got enough to be getting on with. Just because you are busy, shouldn’t mean you don’t get the opportunity to fully understand your customer experience whilst also gathering valuable footage which can be used as best practice training.

You can’t be everywhere at once, so we’ll be there for you.

More information on the CCTV Code of Practise, MSPA Code of Ethics and Professional Standards and MRS Code of Conduct can be found via the links below.

CCTV Code of Practise

MSPA Code of Ethics and Professional Standards

MRS Code of Conduct

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