Case study: Edinburgh Zoo Mystery Shopping
The Royal Zoological Society Scotland (RZSS) owns and operates Edinburgh Zoo. A trip to the Zoo is an opportunity for RZSS to demonstrate the value of the work that it does, and to ensure that visitors leave with a positive impression of the organisation. Since 2015, Scotinform has helped RZSS to ensure that these opportunities are maximised through its Mystery Visit Programme.
The main aim of the Mystery Shopping Programme is to provide a rolling programme of visits which provide feedback on the overall experience. Specifically, we aim to: measure the extent to which the visit experience meets the standards set by RZSS; identify the key strengths of the visitor experience; and highlight ways in which the visit experience could be improved.
In line with the Market Research Society Code of Conduct (and good manners!), Zoo staff are made aware of the Mystery Visit Programme, and the questionnaire is objective in tone, with the majority of questions focusing on factual information.
One mystery visit takes place every month. Scotinform does not use “professional” mystery shoppers – we source visitors that reflect the profile of visitors to the Zoo – families, older people, visitors with disabilities, tourists and local residents.
The shoppers are asked to engage with the Zoo before their visit, as well as complete a questionnaire that reflects their experience on the day. The questionnaire was prepared by Scotinform in line with the Zoo aims and objectives, and can be adapted over the period to include new elements as required. For example, in 2016 we were asked to include a recording of a Keeper’s talk as part of the report, to identify examples of good practice and understand the effectiveness of key conservation messages. Shoppers are asked to test all aspects of the visit experience, including catering outlets and the shop.
Scotinform prepares a full report for each visit (including the visitors’ own photographs), comparing findings across the months and with the previous year. The report is colour coded to identify areas of best practice and highlight development priorities.
The reports are disseminated across the organisation and inform strategic priorities, as well as providing a mechanism for recognising good practice.
“It is essential that we gain as much insight as possible into the motivations and perceptions of our visitors. Working with Scotinform helps ensure we meet visitor needs and aspirations – and find out where there are areas for improvement. We always find Scotinform’s feedback and recommendations extremely helpful.”
Ben Supple, Head of Marketing, Communications and Membership, RZSS
We pride ourselves on our supply of authentic mystery shoppers – no professionals in suits!
Our shoppers are chosen to ensure a range of visitor types across the year, including family visits. The difference in expectation, experience and satisfaction can often be significant and it is important that the feedback of all visitors is reflected.
We design the questionnaires to make sure that they capture customer standards but also the overall visitor experience, generating both quantitative and qualitative feedback. Our clients appreciate the direct quotes from mystery visitors, which explain in more detail what was good, and not so good, about a visitor experience.
The colour coding used in the reports clearly highlights areas of concern, areas for development and areas where standards and expectations are being met. The reports are easy to digest and disseminate, with key findings clearly presented and interspersed with reference to your own customer standards and strategic objectives.
The report can be supplemented with photographs, recordings of interactions with staff and vox-pop videos of the mystery shopper reflecting on the experience afterwards, all of which can be shared with the you to make it easier to communicate within the organisation.