• Mystery Shopping & Market Research: DIY or Hire a Professional

‘Actionable data’ is the goal when a bank or credit union mystery shops itself and its competition.  The importance of mystery shopping is to understand its business and market thoroughly, so prudent business decisions can be made.  The data gathered must be timely, un-biased, and objective.  If not, the decisions could be harmful to the organization.

Many times, banks and credit unions undertake mystery shopping and market research projects internally or do it themselves.  Management believes gathering data is quick and easy, and doing the project in-house is a money saver.  A typically in-house project involves assigning existing staff to a research team who then searches the web and studies the competition.

Performing competitive research and mystery shopping internally has its downfalls.  The staff members assigned to the project have daily job functions, and their time is already consumed with working on day-to-day responsibilities. In most cases, the project will suffer due to these time constraints, causing delays, inadequate information, or the project never is completed. Not having time to dedicate solely to the project may cause the data to be collected hastily. Delays are problematic beyond just missing the deadline, it also leads to stale data. A clear strategic analysis cannot take place without having all the data in a timely manner, and relying on misinformation leads to poor decision making.

Internal market research also yields a quick glance at the market.  With little time to dedicate, staff members cannot perform a deep dive into their competitor’s landscape, potentially missing very important details.  Often these overlooked items lead to thousands and thousands of dollars in untapped profits.

Most companies are lucky to have passionate individuals working for their firm. However, with that passion typically comes strong opinions. These opinions are an issue for an internal team doing their own market research.  Internal staff come to the project with preconceived knowledge about both the company and the market.  This can lead to bias, or tainted data.

When it comes to mystery shopping and market research, hiring a third-party will save time, which ultimately saves money. An external team eliminates the need for employees to take focus off their day-to-day operations.  Also, third-party professionals guide staff with proper questions to extract the valuable data needed.  A review encompasses all areas, leaving no stone unturned.  A professional provides experience and best practices which ultimately provides a complete analysis of the market. A complete picture provides an organization access to complete and timely data, and gives them the tools necessary to examine all areas.  And finally, an external party does not have any preconceived ideas of competitors’ products or pricing.  Their work will be thorough, neutral, and viewed through clear lenses; providing unbiased, accurate actionable data.

Although an internal team appears as the quicker and cheaper route; consider hiring professionals. Finding the right third-party resource will save your bank or credit union time and money in the long run.  They will provide your organization with reliable, unbiased, and timely actionable data that can be leveraged to stay competitive and profitable in the market.


The Mad Banker