As consumer spend falls, banks, companies and stores in the Middle East are gearing up to keep the footfalls coming in and retain their customers. A large number of firms have gone for the mystery shopper audit to step up customer service and also find weak links in service delivery.
"The UAE is becoming very active and aware about customer service standards. Most mystery shopping visits take place in the UAE," said Robert Keay, Managing Director, Ethos Consultancy in Dubai.
Mystery shopper is an individual trained to experience and measure any customer service process, by acting as a potential customer and evaluating if the service has been delivered in a manner that reflects both company customer service standards and procedures.
Keay said: "Many of our clients invest in mystery shopping programmes. Mystery shopping is a great customer service measurement tool for companies. It's affordable and flexible depending on the client's needs and focus.
He said: "More than 50 per cent of our clients request our mystery shopper and reporting services. This is our most popular product."
Keay added that mystery shopping was an easy way to "check" customer service "through the eyes" of a real customer and find out any shortfalls within the customer service process.
Omar Saeed Mansoor, Head of Stakeholder Relationship Development, Roads and Transport Authority, said: "The mystery shopper programme was implemented to find out weakness in customer service for taxis and public transport. After the programme, an action plan was drawn up and implemented," he said.
Ethos has about 1,500 registered mystery shoppers, who register online for their assignments.
The mystery shopper is given the task requirements and guidelines online. After a visit, the mystery shopper reports the findings online.
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