• Competitive Benchmarking: The Forgotten Side of Mystery Shopping

Competitive Benchmarking: The Forgotten Side of Mystery Shopping*

Knowledge is the key for brands looking to create organizational shifts in terms of their Customer Experience. By unlocking information about your current organizational Customer Experience practices, brands can figure out how they can further establish relationships with their customers. The most effective method of uncovering this trove of information is by implementing a mystery shopping program.

Mystery shoppers look and act like the average customer, but their evaluations can garner vital information about the ways that customers perceive your brand. One aspect of mystery shopping that is often overlooked is competitive benchmarking, meaning the practice of sending mystery shoppers to the competition to see how the competition is operating. This is valuable because it allows brands to more accurately measure their place in the industry, rather than only measuring up against themselves. The following kinds of competitive benchmarking are most commonly used to evaluate the way your brand is performing compared to competitors.

Are your goals similar to your competition? 

The most common kind of Competitive Benchmarking is comparative benchmarking studies, or simply just monitoring the activity and ability of your competitors. This is the practice of sending in mystery shoppers to perform the same shop they would be doing for your brand, but to the competition instead. This can be valuable because it gives you a filtered down comparison of the way that customers experience your brand compared to others in your space. These programs will focus on high-level Customer Experience facets of competitors, including employee engagement, building cleanliness, product quality, etc.

Are your prices and marketing working in tandem to attract the most customers to your brand?

Understanding your brand’s place on the industry totem pole is important for figuring out how to deliver the right experience to your customers. By monitoring the marketing methods and price levels of your competitors, in tandem with comparative benchmarking data, your organization can strive to accurately place itself amongst competitors. Thus, this information will allow you to optimize the marketing methods and pricing that customers in this industry desire. These programs will have the mystery shopper focus on specific products and the way that they are marketed to, priced, and sold to the customer.

Are you setting the right goals or benchmarks for your brand? 

Focusing on operational benchmarks of your competitors will deliver clear insights into how and why certain competitors are performing the way they are. Comparing the actual employee activity of industry leaders can help determine the details that go into delivering a high-quality Customer Experience. These programs will focus on employee activity, organizational standards, selling methods, in addition to other barometers.

Competitive benchmarking can serve as an instrumental pillar of any mystery shopping platform, and can help deliver information that helps your organization figure out the space it encompasses within your industry. Optimizing your goals is very important for determining success. Simply knowing how your brand is performing does not paint the whole picture. The goal of any Customer Experience platform is to uncover valuable insights, and competitive benchmarking contributes to this goal by placing the information in context. If your brand is aiming too high or low, then it is setting itself up for failure. By uncovering information about established competitors, competitive benchmarking helps brands better understand the value delivered to the customer.

* The article is re-published with the kind permission from Jeff Hall, President, Second To None. You can read and comment on the original piece on LinkedIn. Original date of the publication: 21 February 2017.

Image: FreeImages.com/Fran Priestley