How Does Mystery Shopping Benefit Consumers?
Written by Mel Otero
Most consumers have, at some point, been subjected to poor customer service. Unfortunately, some consumers have encountered discrimination during an apartment search, a banking transaction, or other regulated service industry. Frustrated or angry, they may vent to friend or family but rarely report the incident to senior management. Customer service that is less than excellent is a major concern to most companies and even the hint of discrimination will have senior managers scrambling to resolve the issue. Management in most companies prefers heading off potential problems rather than losing customers or facing lawsuits.
In an effort to prevent problems, mystery shopping companies are employed to send shoppers out to play the role of a consumer and assess specific services and behaviors. Pointing out problems encountered during this role play gives the company an opportunity to make adjustments. The mystery shopper plays a significant part in insuring that consumers receive appropriate service and proper treatment. Legitimate mystery shopping companies and professional shoppers definitely have a positive impact on consumers. Mystery shoppers are used throughout the world. The scope of these secret shoppers touches almost every industry and both online and brick and mortar stores. Shoppers are frequently found in the service sector; a few examples: banks, investment brokers, medical groups, new car dealers, new home sales, and yes, even the U. S. Post Office. Apartment communities, banks and investment brokers rely on shoppers to evaluate both customer service and compliance issues. The entertainment industry depends on shoppers to evaluate casinos, theme parks, hotels and restaurants.
Most companies have established guidelines and standards for employees to follow. Employees are required to meet specific goals and to treat consumers according to the guidelines. Many companies, banking, financial investment companies and the apartment industry, are also subject to state and federal rules and regulations. Evaluations conducted by experienced mystery shoppers result in reports that inform management about the level of customer service and whether standards have been met.
Reports provided by mystery shopping companies to the ultimate company client alert management of deficiencies or problems. The reports also inform management when standards have been met or exceeded by employees. These reports can then be used by management to provide additional training to employees or, if necessary, take corrective action. It also enables management to reward the employees that met or exceeded established standards. Many companies use the mystery shopper’s report as part of the employee reviews, merit increases and bonuses.
The report provided to the company is an important tool that enables the company to assess and insure excellent customer service. The company can also determine whether state and federal regulations have been followed and, as a result, the rights of consumers have been protected. Companies value customers and rely on the feedback from secret shoppers to improve customer service and strengthen the behaviors of employees that generate customer satisfaction. As a consumer, when you receive excellent customer service, the company probably has a mystery shopping program in place and shoppers visit on a regular basis to insure that real consumers feel valued and appreciated. The mystery shopping program results in profits for the company through customer retention and the consumer benefits by receiving stellar customer service.