“Mystery shoppers” sounds like a new reality television series, but it is actually one of the tools the U.S. Postal Service uses to gauge customer service. Mystery shoppers are customers unknown to the retail staff and who fill out evaluations on their shopping experience, which helps determine how well retail units are performing.
The Postal Service’s Retail Customer Experience (RCE) program uses mystery shoppers to objectively collect data on retail customer experiences. This information is used to drive behaviors for improving customer service, increasing retail revenues, and correcting unfavorable conditions. What kinds of things are these mystery shoppers evaluating?
- How long did they wait in line? Was it over 5 minutes? This makes up 40 percent of the RCE score.
- Were forms and supplies available? Were promotional messages neatly displayed? This makes up 25 percent of the score.
- Was the Postal Service employee attentive and did he or she interact pleasantly with the mystery shopper? Was the retail area neat, clean, and well maintained? This “image” part of the survey makes up 20 percent of the score.
- Did the Postal Service employee ask the mystery shopper if the package being shipped contained hazardous materials? This represents 15 percent of the score.
Although not factored into the overall score, mystery shoppers also record their experience in these categories:
- Product offering – To what extent were mystery shoppers offered certain products and services?
- Product explanations – To what extent were benefits and features of products and services explained?
- Overall experience – Mystery shoppers provide their view on the overall experience, including whether their expectations were met and their likelihood to return.