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Mystery shoppers? Let Kipp save you the bother

Mystery shoppers? Let Kipp save you the bother

Retailers in the UAE want to know what their service is like, apparently, so they’re paying people to help find out. Send a check Kipp’s way.

June 6, 2010 10:15 by

Mystery shoppers are in demand in the UAE, according to a story in the National over the weekend, as the country prepares for its first ever “Customer Service Week.”

Retailers across the country have become increasingly keen to attract customer loyalty in “a world where people are watching what they spend and where they spend it,” says the report. To do that they need insights into how employees are performing on the shop floor, and the standards of customer service they are delivering. What are the retailer’s strengths, and how can they improve? What is the average customer’s opinion of the shopping experience?

Kipp doesn’t think retailers need to invest too much money in hiring mystery shoppers. At least, not yet. Mystery shoppers are an incisive tool aimed at perfecting service in a mature and competent retail market. They can help bring excellence in a retail market of high standards. Here in the UAE, that’s a total waste.

Here’s what retailers need to know: Your customer service levels are, by and large, terrible. There are no strengths, and improvement can be made in every single area. The average customer’s opinion of the shopping experience is that it is a horrific trial of patience and endurance where the staff adds little or no value and the only redeeming aspect is the product.

So before you go hiring a mystery shopper to tell you how clean the store looked on a scale of one to five, try following Kipp’s simple advice first:
1. TRAIN your staff so they know about the products they are selling. Why? It will help them sell more and it will be useful to the customer.
2. TRAIN your staff that following people around a store or hovering next to them constantly is not service, it’s stalking.
3. EMPOWER your staff to work on their initiative, so they could open an extra till when a queue builds up, for instance.
4. MORE does not equal better. Dozens of staff in one store does not equal good service (see point 1) particularly when they can’t follow point 3.

Start with these, and we’ll see how you get on. Kipp readers, feel free to suggest your own ideas for improvement.

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  1. Eric on June 7, 2010 6:28 am

    What gets me the most (at the moment) is the constant over-promising and under-delivering (literally). I’m trying my third electronics/home appliances store for my latest purchase and the promised delivery in two days has been met by ‘the truck broke down earlier today and we only just found out’… at 9.30 pm. It took them 1h and 30 minutes to cook up this feeble excuse to cover their backs. I am not holding my breath for the promised delivery this afternoon.

  2. Miss Anne Thropic on June 7, 2010 9:21 am

    If the UAE had proper addressing, the whole delivery nightmare wouldn’t be nearly as bad.

    The four points above are dead right. And I’d add:

    1. Ensure you have enough change in the cash register. Stores should have some idea of their change needs for each day and plan accordingly.

    2. Treat all customers equally regardless of nationality. Do not stop serving one customer just because someone else who looks like they might need some fawning attention has walked in.

    3. Discourage horizontal queues especially in banks and the currency exchange. I do not need someone looking over my shoulder when I am dealing with my personal finances.

  3. Omar on June 7, 2010 11:17 am

    There’s a facebook group dedicated to these types of issues – it’s called the “Campaign for Real Service”… lots of similar stories on there!

  4. Omani on June 11, 2010 11:42 am

    probably a good idea would be if the management / owner actually did some mystery shopping themselves – I guess they would wonder how they ever managed to take a baisa (though as Anne said – baisas would be great for change rather than being given an unwanted pack of gum)


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