When and Where Was Mystery Shopping First Used?
Written by John A Denver
Mystery shoppers are people hired by agencies or corporations to check the service quality, product quality and sales staff behaviour at retail outlets and shops. These people pose as normal shoppers and asses the integrity and performance of the store staff. They generate a report complete with appropriate ratings. This report is circulated back to the agency or corporation who hired them. This entire process allows for fair and non judgemental performance of the employees.
The history of mystery shopping
Originally coined in the year 1940 the term mystery shopping was used to define the plethora of services used by normal customers who hired these shoppers. At the beginning the main areas of operations would be banks and large retail outlets who hired mystery shoppers to verify the integrity and honesty of their employees.
Private investigators or detectives would pose as shoppers and try to discover if the store staff were compromising the code of ethics set by the corporation. These mystery shoppers unearthed many cases of stealing, fraudulent dealings and immoral activities that would have been difficult to detect otherwise.
The progress of mystery shopping
The 80's and 90's saw a lot of activity happening in the industry. This catalytic activity was due to the discovery and wide use of the Internet. There emerged a lot of market research firms which offered their services to industries in terms of mystery shopping and customer satisfaction evaluation.
These firms had a lot of scientific processes and technological evaluation methods so industries preferred to hire companies. Slowly the trend of using individual private investigators filtered out.
What is the modern method of mystery shopping?
This has emerged as a booming industry which is focused on mapping the levels of customer satisfaction and consumer loyalty. These shoppers use a variety of methods like questionnaires with carefully graded questions, video devices, audio equipment and other techniques to record their experiences at the work site.
Other sophisticated materials are used by big companies who has thousands of employees working for them.
These techniques and technologies are a far cry from the primitive way it was conducted way back in the 1940's. The only basis of evaluation back then was word of mouth and naturally the system had a lot of flaws.
There was a lot of scope for personal bias, distorted truths, misunderstandings and miscommunications. These areas of error have seen a lot of change due to the advancement in technology.
Job prospects in the mystery shopping market
Mystery shopping is a booming industry and there are thousands of market research companies who hire individual across all nationalities, backgrounds and locations or their services. If you are interested in finding work as a mystery shopper you can find work via the Internet and get associated with a market research company.