Mystery Shopping has come a long way in the short 12 years that I’ve been a scheduler for Customer Impact. Everything from contacting shoppers to the reporting methods has changed.

Back in the old days, companies used software such as Microsoft Excel or Access to keep track of their shopper databases. Now we have the ability to store databases on a secure server so that it can be easily shared with all company employees.

Ah, and then there was the scheduling methods. Many new shoppers may not realize this, but we didn’t always have an on-line reporting site. A long, long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away), shoppers were pre-assigned shops. The guidelines and forms were mailed to the pre-selected shoppers and then we would wait to hear back from them, as to whether or not they would accept the assignment. If we didn’t hear from the shopper via email or by phone, we would make a follow-up call to see if they would be accepting their shop. If they could not accept it, the search for a new shopper would begin – manually (phone calls or individual emails). There were no posting shops via mass email. We now allow shoppers to apply for the shops we have available and no long pre-assign shoppers. This way a shopper has control over what shops they want to complete and it enables us to select the best, most qualified shopper for each assignment.

ci_mystery_shopping2Our reporting methods have drastically changed from the past as well. Before the advent of Sassie and other reporting software systems, we created our own forms for our clients using MS Excel or Word. These forms would then be emailed to the assigned shopper, the shopper would save the file on their computer, fill it out after the shop (save it again) and then email it back to us as an attachment. In some cases these forms would have to be mailed via USPS to the shopper and then it would be faxed back to us, filled out by hand. Now imagine getting hundreds of Excel/Word reports every month – it soon became quite clear that in order for the industry to grow the reporting methods (as well as other methods) had to change. Thanks to the advent of systems like Sassie and Athena the scheduling, editing and reporting processes have become much smoother and more efficient.

Stay tuned for my next blog, where I will delve deeper into the past, present and future of mystery shopping!

Have you been mystery shopping so long that you remember the days of snail-mailing your reports?

What innovation has the mystery shopping industry produced that you are most thankful for (personally, mine is Sassie)?

By Barbry Booth, Customer Impact Scheduleing Manager

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