Skip to main content

Mobile Mystery Shopping VS Traditional Mystery Shopping in the Fuel Industry

Mobile Mystery Shopping VS Traditional Mystery Shopping in the Fuel Industry

There is an alternative to everything in today’s fast-paced, digitally-encompassed world. Or so we believe. Every industry, every company, every workspace, every team and every employee has found an alternative, ‘faster’, method of completing tasks at hand and showcasing results; which may not always be long-lasting or helpful in nature. The fuel industry and its fuel industry employees have also resorted to the growing changes and needs of the fuel brand and c-stores to fulfil targets and meet expectations. However, these quick-fixes often come at a cost.

What we will be discussing further in this blog is one such ‘quick fix’ transition we have seen the fuel industry make, with negative consequences, to grow in this customer-heavy market. After many years of leading fuel brands in the fuel industry repeatedly adapting to the famous customer experience management technique - the mystery shopping method to rectify existing and potential structural or operational faults in their fuel c-stores and fuel brands we saw the fuel industry adapt the mobile mystery shopping method to achieve the same results that the traditional mystery shopping methods would achieve.

To understand what is the mobile mystery shopping customer experience management technique we must first understand the foundation on which it is built. The traditional mystery shopping method. The traditional mystery shopping research technique is used to monitor the consistency and quality of in-store and customer service offerings of a fuel brand in the fuel industry. It works in a cyclic manner where a trained mystery shopper also known as a secret shopper enters the store and goes about shopping as any regular customer would while simultaneously noting down major red flags in the store or the c-store customer service of the fuel brand and c-store. The mystery shopper interacts with the employees, asking them basic questions, and checking the ambience, facility, availability and attitude of the store and its employees. They then duly report those minute details on a reporting platform where the fuel brand can draw conclusions from and use details as an insight into what could be some of the challenges in fuel industry like fuel brand customer retention, customer satisfaction, customer needs and the like. Mystery shoppers are incredibly discrete and highly trained, making them perfectly capable of handling any situation and being a dynamic resource to find details a regular employee would otherwise miss or not escalate. However, over the course of years and many mystery shopping company scams and badly run mystery shopping research in fuel industry this robust customer experience management method has a list of myths attached to it, like:

  • Mystery shopping is too vast and requires people to go about asking multiple layers of questions to conclude.
  • Mystery shopping in fuel industry is very time-consuming and fuel brands have to wait many months and years before they see any possible outcomes through this CX research.
  • Mystery shoppers or secret shoppers training is too expensive and is not economically sustainable for fuel companies.

Over time some fuel brands have come to believe that mystery shopping is time-consuming, not cost-effective and a hyped version of something that can have an alternative. That is when the mobile mystery shopping method came into place as a replacement for the traditional mystery shopping in fuel industry. The mobile mystery shopping technique is a fast-paced, more affordable and simple format of traditional mystery shopping. It includes no training for mystery shoppers or secret shoppers hence there is no user persona or shopper persona developed, it has very short timelines in terms of the process and entails very few questions from the mystery shopper. It is believed by some that smaller fuel brands do not need a full-fledged traditional mystery shopping solution in the first place; they just need a smaller and simpler version of the same which can work as a replica.

Traditional mystery shopping versus mobile mystery shopping

  1. Number of questions asked

    Traditional mystery shopping: 30-50

    Mobile mystery shopping: 15

  2. Mystery shopper selection

    Traditional mystery shopping: trained mystery shoppers who can melt into the crowd

    Mobile mystery shopping: selected virtually over the list of existing customers or users

  3. Cost

    Traditional mystery shopping: higher because of training and efforts

    Mobile mystery shopping: lower because it is done locally and has lesser operational requirements

  4. Field Time

    Traditional mystery shopping: weeks/months

    Mobile mystery shopping: a few days

  5. Data entry

    Traditional mystery shopping: use digital methods to note issues (phones, tabs, etc) and then use a reporting platform to collate and share information

    Mobile mystery shopping: use phones to note, record and notify issues

There are many downfalls to this list of differences we have listed out and most of them stem from the mobile mystery shopping method. This quick fix uses untrained everyday customers to report issues. This is a major issue which reflects upon all the other differences. Obviously because the fuel industry mystery shopping is an everyday customer there are no training costs, which also means they are not trained enough to be handling this role. They would most likely not be able to notice issues that are not typically glaring and alarming right from the start. They are more likely to miss out on safety hazards and fuel brand promotions or fuel brand marketing strategies and placements in the store. Ultimately the job is done with no structure or functional optimization and may give you some intel that can help your fuel brand but in the long run, it will most definitely not be of use.

The traditional mystery shopping research method was created with much thought and over the last few decades has adapted to provide the best possible outcomes like better training facilities for mystery shoppers, a more digitized approach toward recording and repurposing data to gain insights and making better decisions in the fuel industry. It may be more time taking and slightly more expensive but it just cannot be replaced by any other quick-fix alternative.

Leading customer experience companies like SonataGBW come with over a hundred thousand trained mystery shoppers for fuel industry that can help notice, report and collate data about your fuel brand and c-store to eventually overcome all the challenges in fuel industry that you are currently facing. That is why you must make the right customer experience decision and choose traditional mystery shopping in fuel industry when discussing your next customer experience strategy.

Our CX solutions are focused on transforming the total customer experience through surveys, metrics, analytics and auditing by using the CXM framework to combine physical measurements with digital Platformation™ capabilities. We are committed to finding the right customer experience strategy that can lead to a competitive advantage.

Sonata GBW is a global technology company specializing in customer experience CX measurement, platform-based digital transformation, supporting businesses to become connected, open, intelligent and scalable. Global coverage of more than 105 markets with over 27 years of market leadership through extensive measurement capabilities, powerful and intuitive reporting and analytics platforms give us the leverage to improve customer experience. It has presence across USA, Canada, EMEA and APAC regions. If you would like to know more about how we can assist you, please fill out the business enquiry form below.