Mark Bridge writes:
If you’ve worked in retail, you’re probably aware of the ‘mystery shopper’. This is someone who appears to be a regular consumer but is actually reviewing your performance. Perhaps they’re working for your employer, maybe they’re conducting an independent survey, they may even be reporting for a magazine or newspaper. But they’re about as welcome as a knock on the front door when you’re at home in the shower.
Mystery shopping as we know it now is around 70 years old. It’s usually aimed either to find out if things are working properly or to compare performance. So, if you work in a shop, you may find you’re being checked by your employer - and your performance may also be reported by a trade publication or research organisation.
The result, much to the delight of many employers, is that staff work hard to provide good customer service… just in case they’re being ‘mystery shopped’.
Why am I mentioning all this? Well, imagine a situation where you know there’s a mystery shopper on the way. And imagine you know that your competitors aren’t aware of the mystery customer. What an opportunity, eh? A few weeks of hard work and your company could top the charts for customer service.
Let me transport you now to Watford, home of mobile phone recycling company Mazuma Mobile. They recently asked Service Science to impartially evaluate nine UK mobile phone recyclers. The best performance overall came from Mazuma, which also claimed first place for best service quality and the fastest service. These results were announced in a celebratory press release earlier this week.
Now, I’m not doubting the integrity of Service Science. But it’s hard not to get the impression that Mazuma could have been at something of an advantage throughout the process. To be honest, I’d say it never looks particularly good if you’ve paid for a survey that shows you to be outperforming your competitors.
Then again, maybe I’m just a cynic.