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Chat bots against mystery shoppers: what's more effective?

Agencies providing Mystery Shopping service — checking of retail outlets by mystery shoppers — position it as the most effective tool to improve customer service. However, now it has a direct competitor — a network bot. More and more companies are using it in social networks and/or messengers so that regular customers can report poor service quality in real time. This approach ensures continuous and impartial monitoring of the branch's performance and, in addition, requires minimal cost.

What can you evaluate with mystery shoppers and chat bots?

Mystery shopper

Chat bot

Selling process

All stages: from contact with staff to sale



Product quality

Taste, color, smell of food, product packaging, etc.



Fraud facts

Do they perform a check



Service quality

Friendly, competent, fast, interested, attentive



What does a sales outlet and consultant look like?

Appearance, compliance with merchandising rules




The difference is that the mystery shopper consistently describes the process of selling within the legend and the report is provided after some period of time, while the real visitor of the outlet notes only the parameters he is interested in, but instantly. Dirt, snow in the room, the smell of tobacco smoke from a consultant, unfriendly treatment — this and much more can be recorded and reported to the branch office without leaving the sales floor.

In practice, it looks like this

The client finds an official representation of the brand in the messenger or social network. Instructions are usually located in the most prominent place in the sales area. You've probably already seen the ads in the cashier's area or at the manager's desk of “Find us in WhatsApp”, “Write to us in Facebook”, etc., and then the chat bot address.

Start the online conversation. To do this, simply click on the Start button. Select the desired menu item. For example, “Big queue”, “Stale food”, “No packaging bags”, etc., and take a confirmation picture, after which the remark is sent to the person in charge. 

If there is no menu item corresponding to the specific situation, the visitor clicks on the “Other” button and leaves a complaint there.

In return, he immediately receives a written gratitude for his activity. And soon the author receives a clear confirmation that the problem indicated by him is solved. For example, the director of the branch, seeing the message about the products on the floor, instantly sends a cleaner to the sales area. He takes a picture of the washed floor and sends it to the system, which immediately sends the image to the person who noticed the dirt.

If in addition to feedback you give a compliment to all attentive visitors of the outlet in the form of a personal special offer, they will gladly come back to the store and create the marketing buzz effect. As a result, there will be no shortage of free inspectors.

What's more effective?

When using the Mystery Shopping service, the customer receives information for analysis from agencies. The latter are usually interested in the quality of inspections less than in submitting reports on time and, consequently, in receiving remuneration. As a result, the work “in the fields” may involve incompetent performers, who:

  • during the work give out themselves

  • break the legend,

  • make an uninformative or biased report,

  • miss out on important evaluation criteria that are not specified in the questionnaire.

There are a number of other problems

Experienced consultants already have an eye for mysterious buyers, and those who do not have the desire or opportunity to get involved in the role assigned to them by the legend – they receive low payment for the work, as the direct performers.

If the inspection reveals poor quality of service, sellers quickly find a camera recorder. It means that a repeat visit of the performer to this outlet is not possible in a little while. If checks need to be carried out regularly, this is a big problem for agencies, and it can be tricky.

Often, performers are personally interested in a good test result. Cases where they receive remuneration from both the customer and the auditee are frequent, and such a scheme is not immediately disclosed

Unlike “mystery shoppers”, real customers cannot evaluate the compliance of the sellers' work with the corporate service script: offering additional products/services, issuing promotional materials, attracting to the loyalty program, etc. They pay attention only to the infringement of their consumer rights and discomfort while receiving the service. On the other hand, this information is communicated to the customer's representatives immediately and without intermediaries.

Messages are usually addressed to the local management, which representatives promptly correct the identified defect. The service quality control will only have to analyze the statistics of the detected violations for a certain period of time, assess the speed of processing complaints by responsible personnel and make the right strategic decision based on the results.

How to create a chat bot?

Theoretically, this can be done by any IT specialist, using the appropriate service and recommendations that are freely available on the Internet. You can create chat bots in every messenger and social network. Another question is their effectiveness, because the main thing is to configure them right. In order to maintain effective communication with real users, a carefully considered, original scenario is required, and this is a fine skill. In addition, to easily process information from different messengers, you need a single contact center that integrates all the chat rooms. Setting it up on your own is very difficult.

The Sherlock chat platform allows you to create turnkey chat bots: with wide functionality and a script of any depth. With its help it’s easy to build a competent dialogue with the visitors of the outlet and to solve various strategic tasks. In this case, a single, unique scenario can be implemented in all channels of communication — there is no need to pay extra for the presence in each messenger or social network, and there will be only one contact center.

The official partner of Sherlock Platform is Mobile Dimension. Its developers create chat bots with scenarios of varying complexity, set up the exchange of information between the client network, local management and quality control service and create tools for the formation of analytics. In addition, the company's own development, an electronic platform for automating the audit of retail outlets and monitoring compliance with quality standards MD Audit, allows you to comprehensively, intricately consider each internal business process occurring at the outlet. This system has already been evaluated by independent experts. CNews Analytics agency in its annual review of the Russian mobile technology market “Mobility in Business” devoted a lot of material to this system.

If you synchronize chat bot reporting with the analytics provided by the MD Audit system, you can refuse from mystery shoppers and client surveys, and from any other marketing research aimed at improving the quality of work of the network branches. The information received on each of them will be unbiased and comprehensive. At the same time, its cost will be significantly lower than the cost of cooperation with counterparties.

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