Mystery shopping is a mechanism used externally by marketing research companies or internally by companies themselves to measure the quality of their service to ensure compliance with regulation and to gather service information’s. The term “mystery shopping” was derived in the 40’s when it was used to define the services that a customer used to assess the service. Since the 40s, the term has evolved and so has the mechanisms of mystery shopping. Currently it is a sector of industry that evaluates different aspects of a company’s services and products. As mystery shopping roots back to 1940s, it was mainly used in banks and retail stores to evaluate the integrity of the employees. With an attempt to uncover if the store employees were stealing or infringing on the company’s revenue, private investigators would pose as employees or consumers wishing to buy things.
The identity of the mystery shopper will not be specify as the purpose is to gather information while the factor of being evaluated is not established. Mystery shoppers perform specific tasks such as purchasing a product, asking questions, registering complaints in order to provide and deliver a detailed-oriented reports about their experiences.
According to a 2005 report by the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA), the growth of the mystery shopping sector or industry has been profiting many nations’ economy and it was estimated that about $600 million was profited in the United States in 2004.
Although mystery shopping has drastically aided several companies and institutes, there are several key ethical implications to the industry. Many mystery shopping organizations or companies advises that report or research on the specific service of a company does not determine an individual’s job status. In other words, retrenching or dismissing a worker due to the response of a mystery shopper is not a valid or rational reason of dismissal. As a result of this, the MSPA has defined a Code of Professional Standards and Ethics Agreement for mystery shopping companies and for mystery shoppers.
The aim of mystery shopping is to improve and enhance the experience of consumers to withhold a company’s revenue and the satisfaction of the customers. Mystery shopping has taken a turn as it has been evolving and continues to grow while reforming several companies – which has not only aided the company’s customers but also the overall revenue.