An article published on Rave the Web reports that companies are increasingly turning to the services of a mystery or secret shopping firm to provide a “reality check” on whether or  not their brand promise is fulfilled when customers are served by their employees.

The mystery shopper serves as an “undercover agent”, visiting a retail establishment as a fake customer. In this role, the mystery shopper can observe how the employees interact and report on it. Managers can ten determine if re-training, re-hiring or some kind of motivational session is needed to help improve customer service.

The article states that any industry that has customers and engages in customer service can benefit from the services of a secret shopping firm. It recommends that management be sensitive in the ways the reports are shared with employees, making them feel part of the process and that the evaluations were for the good of the company.

The benefit of mystery shopping and the reports it generates is that the company is provided unbiased information about what is going on and alerted to problem areas that may have just developed into blind spots. It’s always easier to see something through somebody else’s eyes. The feedback provided by mystery shoppers can be in the form of responding to specific questions or areas the company wanted evaluated, and/or in the form of open-ended narrative of observations.

Mystery shopping can help a company by:

  • Helping them identify customer service issues,
  • Determining gaps affecting customer relations,
  • Suggesting interventions like training and motivation,
  • Enhancing brand loyalty in customers,
  • Creating walking brands who would bring home world of mouth publicity,
  • Improving the sale of the product/service, and so on.