Mystery shopping in B2B: should you be using it?

Every organisation needs the insight that comes from walking in their customers’ shoes. Only when you see what they experience as they try to buy from you can you really organise your business properly around customers’ needs. This is hardly new, but for B2B companies, take-up of such basic insight management has been surprisingly slow, as an article in this month’s issue of Professional Services Marketing magazine explains. The article was about a law firm using ‘mystery shopping’ to assess how well it responded to new business enquiries.

For those who haven’t come across it before, mystery shopping involves researchers posing as new customers, who then test out and track how the organisation responds. The gap between what management believes employees do and what they actually do is where things get interesting; the source of the hugely valuable insight. I’ve been a fan of the mystery shopping ever since I spent a couple of years in the early 1990s as a researcher for Grass Roots Group. It’s good to see this business has grown so successfully since then; it now works for 41 of the FTSE100 and has offices in 15 countries.

If you’ve never used mystery shopping in B2B, then I’d encourage you to investigate further. Most companies say they understand customers and put their needs first; very few actually do. Be one of them and, more than likely, you’ll open up a chasm-like gap of competitive advantage that’s hard to copy.

2 comments

  • Gurdeep Sangha  

    Mystery shoppers are a brilliant way to keep companies on their toes as firms are expected to provide consumers with the best service possible. Certain companies will always provide the best service, however there are also those that can benefit from mystery shoppers.
    I would like to see more mystery shoppers within B2B companies, as many complacent firms may not see how they can improve the overall service.

  • Andy M Turner  

    Gurdeep, thanks for commenting. I see this as about more than just service, however. It’s about insight, which runs deeper than service (important though that is).

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