Between the 29th and the 31st of May 2018, the European members of MSPA, the Association of the professionals in the mystery shopping research, held their annual meeting in Albufeira, a seaside town in the southern part of Portugal. In 2018 Client X was once again awarded an Elite Member of the MSPA, thus making the company the only one in Bulgaria, receiving this status for a second consecutive year. We talk to Juliana Goranova, manager of Client X, who is a regular participant in the association’s events.
1. Hello, Juliana, tell us more about the conference. What were the main topics this year?
As every year, the organizers chose the most relevant topics in the field, trying to be as helpful as they can to the participants in the conference.
Different topics were presented, e.g. how the companies in the mystery shopping field can provide better and more useful service to their clients and how to deliver add-on value.
A good illustration of it is the partnership between a mystery shopping company and a company providing training and qualification to the staff. Thus, a company could target more accurately the qualification of its employees, as well as easily measure the effects of the conducted training.
Among the other interesting topics were the application of the mystery shopping method in the public sphere and, of course, the hot potato for every company dealing with research – the GDPR.
2. Speaking of the new General Personal Data Regulation, which entered into force on the 25th of May this year in all member states of the European Union, is there anything we should know about it in regards with the activities and the projects of the company?
The Regulation was introduced to protect us all as customers from our data being used without our authorization or against our will. Speaking of data, the Regulation does not apply only to the standard personal data – name, email and phone number, but also to such data as physical appearance, professional attitude, customer attitudes and preferences.
The collection and processing of such information are root activities of companies working with any kind of marketing research, including mystery shopping. This is why the Regulation is so important for us. For example, the mystery shopping tasks almost always include an evaluation of the customer service and the professional skills of a specific employee.
Client X has already taken measures to comply all the internal processes with the Regulation’s requirements, but it is definitely not easy.
3. What is new in the field of customer satisfaction and customer service research? Are there new tendencies in the mystery shopping?
The requirements applying to us, the mystery shopping agencies, are changing, they are getting more complicated. In addition to the standard mystery shopping tasks, the companies understand how important it is to monitor and measure the success rate with more complicated scripts, through different channels and with mystery shoppers complying with specific, real profiles.
Banks for example, require that mystery shoppers provide information on the whole process – starting with the appearance of the office from the outside, to paying the last installment of a loan taken out as a part of a mystery client check. Furthermore, the requirements can become even more complicated by using only mystery shoppers with real income, work and family status complying with certain requirements, etc. We, at Client X, already have experience with such projects so we can say that this tendency is present in Bulgaria, too.
4. Does this mean that the Mystery Shopping tools are changing too? In what direction are they developing, what additional services are demanded?
Just as the real shopper uses all channels for access to information, or purchasing products and services, so does the mystery shopper. That is why, it is becoming a commonsense to see mystery shopping tasks conducted in online stores or through social media and chat rooms.
Otherwise, the revealed mystery shopping (mystery checks with feedback) is getting more popular. This is an extension to the standard mystery shopping. Besides covering certain compulsory elements of the tasks as cleanness of the site, order, accessibility, politeness, quality of the information or the product received, etc., there is one more very important stage – the revealing of the mystery shopper.
After conducting the mystery shopping visit, the mystery shopper fills in report and goes back with it to the site to ask for a meeting with the manager and the employee who was tested. Then, the mystery shopper explains in detail who he/she is, what service was provided to him/her and respectively how it was evaluated in the report while using very specific and valid arguments.
The aim of this is for the employees tested to get feedback very quickly and then address immediately any gaps they might have. The employees themselves, when facing the person who evaluated them can also better understand the importance of the program, as well as appreciate what provoked the client to give such an assessment and what would help them improve their work.
I believe such tests are very valuable, and our clients would soon start taking advantage of them.
5. Is there anything else you would like to share with us, or something you would like to add in connection to the conference as a conclusion?
One of the sublime moments of the conference was the awarding of the Elite Member Status. Client X is the only Bulgarian company to win the MSPA Award for contribution to the mystery shopping research for a second year in a row. I want to thank all our colleagues for their efforts and the commitment they show every day! I also want to thank all our clients for trusting us!