Regardless the name, this instrument has gained popularity, credibility and – most importantly – it has been recognised as contributing substantially to measuring and improving the quality of service. We are proud to be participated in such projects since the early beginnings of retail in Romania.
History marks the beginnings of Mystery Shopping around the ‘70es, when retailer Walmart started using this instrument, in an attempt to obtain better performance in the quality of service. More than 40 years later, MS has different names (secret shopping, performance audit, service checks, etc.) and comes with several implementation methods (in person, online, e-mail, telephone, etc.).
Basic remarks about Mystery Shopping:
- MS is an instrument for evaluating the sales/advice process, carried out by a person trained to assess clearly defined aspects
- MS can be used in any industry and it’s not rare that one would find it on CEOs’ agenda (Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, etc.)
- MS can deliver: level of compliance with the organisation’s service standards; implementation of promotions or other marketing actions; level of familiarity with products and services; staff attitude; compliance with internal procedures; promotion of new products; how complaints are solved; how responsive the staff is; compliance with working hours, loyalty towards own brand
- MS needs to be a transparent process in the organisation, rather than a secret one
- The evaluator (the mystery shopper) must match to a profile as close as possible to the real customers’
- MS needs careful planning, according to realistic, clearly defined scenarios
- MS needs to ascertain whether certain things happen (binominal commensuration system – YES/NO, TRUE/FALSE answers) and how they happen, but it is less recommended that it be a scalar evaluation, for instance (scale 1-10 or 1-5 / totally unsatisfactory-totally satisfactory)
- An MS project can also monitor the competition; in this case, the process shouldn’t be transparent to the respective organisations or their staff
- MS needs to protect the identity of interviewers through rigorous planning of the visits – avoid evaluation by the same interviewer of the same locations/consultants/companies within short intervals of time, etc.
- MS needs to be a recurrent process in order to truly maximise its impact in the organisation
- Very good (wow) evaluations need to be rewarded, while serious errors need to be communicated; the results of such a process should portrait an ‘overall’, rather than an individual interpretation
- Most of the times, MS projects deliver a Quality of Service Indicator (QSI) calibrated according to the objectives of each individual organisation
Our experience: banking, telecom, pharmacy, oil & gas, real estate, HORECA, fashion, retail