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Mystery shoppers.....relevant today?

Many years ago when I was a travel agent in the UK we couldn't wait to receive the weekly travel trade magazine. Apart from the news (pre-web days I add!!) there were two other sections you always wanted to check out;

1) Jobs - even though you might not be looking for a new job you wanted to see what was going on.

2) The mystery shopper page - hoping that the secret shopper hadn't been in your agency. Always a relief when you saw they'd been in a Lunn Poly shop in Luton where the welcome, service, knowledge and lack of sales skill gave them a score of 3 out of 10.

So does the mystery shopper have a place today?

I decided to delve into the dark side and signed up with a mystery shopping company. Like Uber (see my previous post) they conducted detailed checks on me and my suitability. Tick in the box there.

Over the past few months I've been on a number of assignments including checking out the service delivery, company uniform compliance, cleanliness, sales techniques, use of mobile communication and asking for repeat business for a car wash operator. Another assignment entailed ensuring service delivery, promotion awareness and the servers product ingredient knowledge at a sushi restaurant met the owners requirements.

Initially I found it difficult 'checking up' on people who were trying their best to do the job however the more I got into it the more I realised this realistic shopper interaction is the only way to gauge certain levels of customer satisfaction.

As long as the mystery shopper completes with the task with an open and clear mind then a lot can be gained. The aim should not be to try and 'trip up' the employee but to see what areas of development there are.

My only negative point is that as the shopper you don't get to know what happens with the feedback. I wish I could get involved with helping the employee recognise the positive and negative areas then set in motion training and education. Probably the company who asked for the mystery shopper exercise will use the information as an improvement process.

Maybe a company out there would like me to provide the end-to-end service?

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