Employee Courtesy Matters Most to Mystery Shoppers: Poll

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Employee courtesy is the most important of the essential elements in the total customer experience, a poll of professional shoppers attending the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) Educational Conference for Shoppers, held here July 15 to July 17, has found.

Sixty-nine percent of almost 150 mystery shoppers polled, who spend a combined 5,400 hours every month in over 4,000 stores, said employee courtesy the most important part of the shopping experience, while 23 percent said employee knowledge was paramount.

Forty-four percent of the mystery shoppers said employee courtesy was the strongest element that they now find when shopping, followed by store cleanliness (28 percent) and employee knowledge (18 percent).

Additionally, 85.8 percent of those polled said service has gotten better in locations they've regularly visited between 2004 and 2005.

On the other hand, almost 41 percent of the mystery shoppers said upselling was the element in which businesses most often fall short.

"In today's competitive marketplace, it is critical for companies to take every step necessary to ensure great customer service, which ultimately results in repeat customer visits," noted MSPA executive director John Swinburn in a statement. "Mystery shopping programs help companies measure and enhance the customer experience, and can pinpoint areas where they might be lacking against the competition. According to the MSPA poll, the most important element in the total customer experience is polite employees.

Swinburn suggested that to forge strong connections with shoppers and boost sales, businesses should take the time to discover their customers' needs and use that information to bring in more items or create new programs.

The MSPA is the largest professional trade association dedicated to improving service quality through the use of mystery shoppers. The conference hosted mystery shoppers from across the United States who specialize in everything from restaurant to retail stores, banks, and hotels.
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