Article: “Who might be the next mystery shopper?” (Apr.2006)

excerpt:
"The 58-year-old woman is one of an estimated 50,000 to 75,000 "mystery shoppers" that work for Corporate Research International, an Ohio-based firm that serves a variety of businesses, including convenience stores, retail and restaurant outlets.

CiCi's Pizza uses shoppers like Lyn to assess how customers rate their food items and service.

"Mystery shoppers provide an unbiased way for a company to find out how a store is doing," said Brad Holdgreve, CRI spokesman.

There are more than 400 mystery shopping companies in North America.

The concept has been around for at least 30 years but it has taken off in the last decade thanks to the advent of the Internet. Before shoppers had to file written reports which could take weeks to evaluate by those at the corporate level. Now, they can file reports online, allowing companies such as CRI, one of the larger firms involved in the industry, to get the data back to clients more quickly."

source: "Who might be the next mystery shopper?" by Valerie Whitney (Daytona Beach News-Journal, Apr.20,2006)

WaiterBell Angle: This article provides some interesting statistics on the mystery shopping industry. In a competitive sector such as full-service restaurants, combined with customers' reluctance to give critical feedback, businesses use proactive measures such as "mystery shoppers" to get objective feedback.

The only drawback to this feedback mechanism is that it only gives you a snapshot for that day and time in the restaurant. While random sampling may be good enough for quality assurance in manufacturing, it would be hard to believe that a few experiences would speak for all customers.  

For restaurants, there was always the potential that a customer may be a restaurant reviewer who could publish a poor review. However due to the internet, now every restaurant customer has the potential to be a published restaurant reviewer, whether it is posting on their blog, in a restaurant review site, or online forums.

WaiterBell is a system that provides constant protection against service gaps by empowering to the customers. It is as if you had a waiter available at every table. It is possible, a customer may not have a reason to use the WaiterBell, however if a service gap does develop, can you take the chance that it will not leave a bad first impression? Why take the chance at all? You don't have to with the WaiterBell system.

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