It may sound rather like something out of a James Bond espionage thriller, but in fact 'mystery shoopping' is a recognised market research tool which can be used to test and improve customer satisfaction and also as a tool for training and developing staff. To do this, companies need part time 'mystery shoppers' to carry out the underlying market research work.
for details of current 'vacancies' for mystery shoppers see also:
These were Julian Nokes’ experiences when he tried a bankers version of ‘mystery shopping’:
The Head Office of a major Continental Bank asked me to visit their private bank subsidiary on Guernsey. The objective was to determine how the Guernsey staff treated potential investment clients.
The brief was to pose as a UK person who had sold his business in America for US$ 60 million. Although now based in Hawaii, I was planning to move back to the UK for two years to study for a Masters Degree at London University. I checked their website to confirm that my choice of European History was offered there.
In order to support myself during this period, I was looking for a bank outside the jurisdiction of the UK tax authorities to provide a regular income during my time in the UK from capital of £3,000,000.
I telephoned the bank to speak to the manager of the investment department. I was told he was in a ‘management meeting’ and he would call me back. I pointed out that although £3,000,000 might not be a large sum for the telephonist it was a significant sum to me adding that there were at least a hundred other banks on the island which might be interested in my business.
About half a minute later, the elusive but friendly investment manager was on the line. We made an appointment for the next day.
As I am not rich, I was anxious throughout our meeting that my flimsy cover might be blown and that I would be thrown out as a time waster. However, that did not happen though I shall never know whether or not my story convinced them.
I explained more or less my circumstances as dictated to me by Head Office. I did not mention residence in Hawaii because, after looking at a detailed map of the islands I could see that I might easily be caught out if I was too closely interrogated about the place, which I have never visited. We discussed various investment options. Their basic investment strategies, model portfolios etc. were explained with details of their performance for the past year or two. Eventually we agreed a strategy which, in theory, would provide my target income for two years without eroding the initial capital.
I was mildly thrown to find that the gentleman interviewing me had been a partner in the firm of chartered accountants which used to look after my personal income tax affairs but, much water had passed under to bridge since then and he was probably unaware of the connection.
He asked if I had a Green Card entitling me to residence in the USA to which I had to say ‘yes’. I am a poor liar at the best of times but, having spent by now nearly an hour with this man I could hardly stop there!
We parted on the basis that I would also be visiting one or two of his competitors on the Island and would revert when I had made up my mind. He was most anxious to know which other banks. I indicated one of the big Swiss or something like that.
Back home, I completed a questionnaire for all of which I was paid a fee, all travelling and incidental expenses.