Unknown caller. A man holds a phone in his hand and thinks to end the call. Incoming from an unknown number at night. Incognito or anonymous

Why Do We Mystery Shop?

When you hear the term “mystery shop,” the first image that may come to mind is a shopper in disguise, checking a store for cleanliness and clandestinely quizzing staff on product knowledge. At SAM, we have an entire team of these incognito shoppers ready to help our dealers. But in our case, fake mustaches aren’t required.

Origins of SAM’s Secret Shopper Club

Sr. VP of Advertising Services Sheila Grandy is at the helm of SAM’s telephone mystery shopping operation. In an interview, Sheila recounts that it all began with sporadic requests for mystery shops by clients. These would funnel through Account Team and would always get handled one way or another.

In February of 2018, Sheila spoke with John Paul about leading up the effort for an organized team and process for mystery shops. After outlining the procedures and recruiting volunteers, SAM’s Secret Shopper Club (SSSC) was born.

How Mystery Shops Work

What is a mystery shop, you ask?

Mystery shops are calls that SSSC makes to clients’ dealerships and to their competitors to gather insights that would be otherwise unavailable. This information ranges from how well a shopper is greeted to how knowledgeable the dealership representative is about the dealer’s product.

Calls to a client’s dealership are typically geared toward assessing customer service. Competitor calls can also asses service, but they provide added insight into local market pricing, helping our dealers stay competitive.

With the new process, AT receives a shop request from a client. Then, Sheila handles assigning a shopper and adding the details to Podio via the new app Ivan created for SSSC. The shopper then researches the product online, takes an alias, and performs the call from a spoofed number local to the dealership. The recording is then sent to AT and the client for analysis.

How Our Clients Benefit

Mystery shops give clients insight into both internal and external market data that would be unavailable without SSSC.

“We’ve received feedback from some of our clients saying this was a great training tool for their staff and that the feedback continues to provide great intel,” Sheila said. “To date, we’ve completed over 300 phone shops.”

SSSC Today

Currently, the mystery shop team consists of Bentley, Casey Q., Chris, Holly B., Lindy, Liz, Luke, Marderius, Mimi, Tina, and Zack. Holly L. and Brad will begin training to join the team as well. Karli aids with tracking number setup, and Courtney B. creates aliases for the team.

“I enjoy this because it gives me the chance to work with team members from several other departments,” Sheila said. “Everyone is always so willing to help.”

The Digital department handles another form of mystery shop that is conducted online. Data from these shops include insights on form submissions, response time, email sales processes, and online pricing.

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