Mystery Shopping

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A customer focus has become more and more important in today's competitive environment. Measuring customer satisfaction is a tool frequently used. The quality of the service delivery can be measured by making use of mystery guests, well-trained persons who behave as normal customers but are precisely observing what is going well and what can be improved in the service process as perceived by the customer. Roger Mayland, VP of Martiz's Quality Controlled Services Division, defines mystery shopping as a "process for measuring service quality, with feedback, that is understandable to the front-line people".The aim of this report is to analyse mystery shopping as a research method and discussions on the amount of data comes out while mystery shopping is conducted. The details for this report are given with the help of Mystery shopping conducted by our team in Langstane Housing association.

The following set of questions was our scenario to start with.

A) I should like to apply to Langstane housing association for accommodation. How can I get an application form and can I get help completing the form if necessary?

B) Can you explain the points system to me? What does it mean, I have been awarded X amount of points? C) I have a mild disability. Do I need medical confirmation of this and does it affect my points? D) Does Langstane operate a different points system from the council and the other housing associations? We divided these questions into bits and pieces to help us in our evaluation criteria.

Field activity:

We started with designing the set of questions to be asked in respect to the problem given followed by Proforma and evaluation criteria. Group meeting was held to finalize the Proforma. We as a team agreed on the task to be done by each individual during the research process and the area of their work have been determined. Which helped us in getting different ideas and data's to work on the findings. Our field activity consists of face to face interview, telephonic interview, E-mail and information through website. We started with browsing the website to get some details regarding application and its process. Then we split in to two teams for direct interview and went on the same day. Followed by telephonic interview and E-mails and this was the starting point from which we got different response and inconsistent reply from the Langstane team which helped us to work on where they went wrong.

Outcomes and findings:
Starting with direct interview we found that the staffs are not comfortable with the technicalities of point system and they were distracted as they attend direct as well as indirect customer (phone calls).But the plus in them was attending the call in one or two rings and they were polite and good mannered. We found the above said things during the telephonic interview as well along with bit of knowledge gap between the staff and make the customer restless when they are made to wait on the phone. Regarding E-mails there were replied and not replied mails through which we found that the there was a poor customer service and no proper tracking procedure. But when reply was sent it was quick and requested information was given.

When we compared all those findings there was inconsistency of information between different modes. Through direct interviews we got information that we can't download application from the website but it was proved wrong through other modes. And the reply time in the email mode differed. There should be a consistent reply time.

Strength and weakness:
Evaluating service from an objective view point is essential if a company wishes to remain competitive. Managers and employees also evaluate themselves, of course, but there is a inevitably an element of bias in their assessment. Mystery shopping allows companies to identify the strength and weakness of their service in customer's perspective to set specific goals for improvement, and...
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