Head of the Romir MS Departament shared his opinion on the development of Mystery Shopping for the MSPA
The past few years have seen a rise in discourse on how Mystery Shopping, as a means of evaluating customer service, is losing its relevance, and there are even some who foretell that it will disappear entirely.
As novel methods of data collection and new approaches to evaluation of customer experience have emerged, some companies reduced their programs or dismissed Mystery Shopping fully. However, let’s see what has changed about the industry, what approaches to research have come into existence and what kind of influence it all has had.
In Russia, the practice of evaluating service quality with sensory devices has been an actively developing trend for the last 5 or 6 years. This is achieved by mounting a recording device at the workplace of a target employee, to document customer interactions and transfer audio records to the server through wi-fi 24/7. (Video recording is also possible but may have legal limitations on the handling of data). The recordings can be processed by either authorized employees or AI, then checklists on consultation performance and adherence to set standards are filled in.
Some companies reach out to their clients to evaluate service quality and audit their own standards. In Russia, there are examples of major retail chains, gas station chains and airlines, introducing their own Mystery Shopping mobile apps. Customers are able to complete a small task at a store (take pictures of the shelves, windows, expired products) and gain bonuses to spend later.
Collection of customer feedback
With the development of social media, e-cards and marketplaces, there’s been an increase of the number of services that collect and analyze customer feedback and scores on certain services, products or sales chains.
New methods and approaches provide a many-sided evaluation of client-company interactions, as well as of company services, and allow revealing pressure points. Collecting such data requires less time and yields more information, as compared to the classic Mystery Shopping.
Does it mean that Mystery Shopping is no longer the thing? – No! It’s still the only way to evaluate the service standards of a chain plus the employee behavior in various situations and to discover systemic issues at different stages of service provision. Data methods, collected through different studies, can complement each other and give a better idea of what’s being researched, but using only one method may result in a wrong interpretation of results and, hence, incorrect managerial solutions.
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