SEOUL, Korea, Feb 27 (Korea Bizwire) – Probably you know who “mystery shoppers” are. Now, warfare of nerves is sharpening between store clerks and the mystery shoppers and it is always hot.
The mystery shoppers disguising themselves as normal customers by performing specific tasks such as purchasing a product, asking questions, filing complaints or behaving in a certain way, and then provide detailed reports or feedback about their experiences. The most common venues where they work are retail stores, hotels, movie theaters, restaurants, fast food chains, banks, and the like.
In the employee’s view, it is important not to be blamed from the shoppers who evaluate the quality of the service and report it to the brand managers. If the employee gets low scores from the mystery shoppers, his promotion would be affected and owners of the stores would often be summoned for special education sessions by the franchiser.
In the retail industry, the existence of the mystery shoppers or monitors has long been accepted as necessary for the customer’s satisfaction. There are even specialized agencies that do business training and sending out monitoring agents to franchise retail floors.
Especially in difficult times like today when grabbing even one more customer is valuable for the company’s bottom line, a slight case of mistreatment by a store clerk may lead to permanent loss to the company. The work of the mystery shoppers is practically useful in that sense.
Shinsegae Department Store hired 30 mystery shoppers consisting mostly of housewives this year to check the services and the degree of convenience provided by its shop assistants. Their meticulousness is beyond anyone’s imagination. Not to mention their checking on the assistants’ reception of the guests, they even expressed their opinions on the store’s sale events and goods display.
A shopping assistant said, “We should be nervous all the time as the mystery shoppers with a lot of experience in shopping come to the store in secret.”
As more and more mystery shoppers are playing an active role discreetly, the clerks or shop assistants who should protect themselves from them are aware of the monitoring agents and naturally raise their standard of service. And some sensible clerks can easily detect them.
An official of a restaurant franchiser said, “We send out the mystery shoppers unannounced in most unexpected time whenever we need to make the franchisees improve their service. When the secret inspectors are caught by the clerks, it becomes quickly a meaningless exercise. So we always keep their action plans top secret.”