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Mystery shopping: why employers are using it instead of surveillance

  • July 26, 2006
  • by PInow Staff

According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which measures more than 200 companies as well as government agencies for customer satisfaction, businesses as well as governments are doing a poor job in providing quality customer service.

In addition, startling new statistics show that employee dishonesty costs business owners in the U.S. more than $400 billion each year. Up to a third of small businesses fail directly due to employee dishonesty. In fact, employee theft is 15 times more likely to occur than theft by external criminals. Despite this, many businesses rely only on surveillance - if that - in order to detect customer service and employee problems.

What can you do?

While surveillance can certainly help if you already have suspicions about a specific employee, there are many reasons why secret shopping makes better sense. Secret shopping is beneficial to businesses because:

  • It measures interpersonal interaction as well as instances of actual criminality. Surveillance will only reveal when something is being done incorrectly. A secret shopper interviewing an employee can often get a better sense of an employee's attitude, competence, and honesty than a hidden video camera can.

  • Employees are more likely to be aware of surveillance than of mystery shoppers. Employees are increasingly tech savvy and know that they are being observed in the workplace. They may simply be more cautious in the workplace than they would be with a customer.

  • Mystery shopping done by a private investigator takes advantage of professional investigative techniques to find out the truth. If you are just relying on outdated video technology, you're unlikely to get the full story. A private investigator posing as a shopper can get important facts about your employees and about your level of customer service.

How to tell whether employee dishonesty or poor customer service affect you

Ask yourself:

  • Does your business continue to lag or even show losses, despite a quality product and your hard work?

  • Do sales seem to be dependant on who is working?

  • Do you notice that you have few repeat customers?

  • If you have tried to make use of surveys and direct questions to customers to determine how your business is doing, have you gotten only vague or incomplete answers?

  • Are there irregularities in inventory or on the books?

  • Do you seem to have more than the usual number of customer complaints?

  • Do you think your business should be faring better than it is now?

If you answered yes to any of the above, a professional secret shopping service can be your first step to better profits and a better quality business.

According to a recent research study by Coldwell Banker, the quality of the company's customer service directly impacts its success. The study revealed that businesses who provided bad service could expect to lose customers consistently. When you add to this the specter of employee dishonesty in theft, secret shopping simply becomes one of the best ways to ensure that your business prospers.

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Visit PInow.com to find investigators who can help with investigation needs that include, surveillance, background checks, corporate investigations and more.


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