In today’s competitive business environment customer focus had become more and more important. ‘Customer is King’, this mantra is held close to every marketer’s heart and no stone is kept unturned to make customer feel satisfied about a product or service. In History as we know before serving food on royal platter to King, first it was checked with people cooking it for its safety, taste and Quality. Likewise in today’s world we have ‘Mystery Shoppers’ serving almost on the same cause. Mystery Shoppers are, well-trained persons who behave as normal customers but are precisely observing what is going well and what can be improved in the service process as perceived by the customer.
Mystery Shopping is a marketing tool which is used by marketing consultancy agencies, various research companies, Watchdog organisations and mostly Individual companies, measure quality of service, or compliance with regulation, general survey, or to gather specific information about products and services. Mystery shopping is very useful in service situations, for example in banks, restaurants, shops, Online Services, airlines, Health Care etc.
Implementation of this marketing tool is very general. Anonymous persons are used as mystery guests. Mystery shopper is well trained and uses a predefined checklist. The mystery guest behaves like a normal customer. And ask for a product or service to under evaluation. Basic philosophy behind such practice is, one customer rarely discover any defect in a product or a service. Even if he notices he may or may not complaint. But the when it comes out it is probably too late for the company to rectify the mistake and get customers trust back. So this tool helps in preventing such mishaps. After the visit to the service point the checklist is filled in and an evaluation report is documented. An evaluation report and the scores on the checklist are used for feedback. Feedback has to lead to a number of improvement issues and actions.
Basic focus is on Quality. Hence, the valuation is so done that it complies towards specific standards, guidelines or demands, or the mystery guest can be instructed to position the quality of the service on a scale. Benchmarking for the product/ Service can be done by assessing competitor’s product/service too.
Checklist is carefully crafted according to the need of the Organisation. A typical checklist may have following parameters to be evaluated on for a Retail Outlet:-
a) No. of attendants
b) Time of Greet
c) Whether you are greeted warmly
d) Concern of the attendant towards customers queries
e) the types of products available
f) the sales arguments used by the employee
g) Persuasiveness of the sales person to buy the product
h) cleanliness of store and store associates
i) speed of service
j) Compliance with company standards relating to service, store appearance, and grooming/presentation etc.
Here we see though the organisation sells a product, but its retail store is being evaluated on its service. Obviously to have fair idea and to get reliable information, no prior intimation should be given to the location of evaluation about the mystery shopper’s identification.
Finally the feedback is shared with the organisation with suitable improvement strategies. So the competitive edge is maintained through targeting customer satisfaction.
This way mystery shopper can be a very helpful in coducting market research and to gain important insight about the subject being studied.
– Submitted by Arya Rahul Shivram (13PGP071)