Sensory details are important to excellent customer experiences

Mystery shoppers should prepare for an influx in assignments asking for reports on the unique experience a store offers to customers.

Mystery shoppers should prepare for an influx in assignments asking for reports on the unique experience a store offers to customers. Being able to recall sensory details and write lyrically about them just might be the next big trend in secret shopping.

In San Francisco, California, the planning commission recently voted in favor of changing the current criteria used to determine whether or not a business can set up shop in the city. Reuters reported that the proposal would amend Proposition G, which currently requires chain stores with 11 or more operating locations in the U.S. to submit to a probationary period before being allowed to establish themselves in San Francisco. During the trial, residents in the neighborhood would be able to openly submit their thoughts on whether the retailer would be a good fit for the area. 

The proposal would redefine a chain store as any business with 19 international locations. The effort is largely designed to maintain a high level of individuality within the city. It is also meant to give small businesses a helping hand. Independently owned coffee shops would have the opportunity to establish more locations before being officially labeled as a chain store and forced through an extensive permit process. This would prevent competition between smaller businesses and giants like Starbucks. A secondary vote will occur this fall to determine an official ruling. 

Using the senses to engage people
The Guardian discussed the role sensory experience plays in customer satisfaction and spending habits. As the paper puts it, the physical shop brings a retailer's brand to life and gives customers a three-dimensional insight into the world the company sells. In order for a store to be successful, the tangible experience must be more engaging than what the client can get from the website.

Unfortunately, businesses across the country are ignoring the importance of this information. They aim for consistency between their site and their store. However, replicating online visuals and audio reduces the experience and has a negative impact on customers. 

This resembles the monotony San Francisco is trying to avoid. The coastal city is aiming to elevate the customer sensory experience and focus on unique retailers instead of cookie-cutter chain stores that feel more like a website than a real place.

For mystery shoppers, this can dramatically influence the way reports and reviews are written. Many retailers may shift their focus from customer service to overall experience. A strong ability to describe aromas, sounds, flavors, sights and touch will become invaluable.