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Housewives playing mystery shoppers

MNCs are employing housewives to play mystery shoppers for their retail chains and outlets to measure the quality of service and give feedback about their products, prices and services.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAY 25, 2008 06:46 PM IST

Housewives can now earn up to Rs one lakh a year by playing mystery shoppers for multinationals and retail chains giving feedback about their products, prices and services which will be used for overall improvement of the same.

Gurgaon-based Grass Roots India is one of the companies that provides services to telecom, banking companies and food chains on their products and staff, using mystery shopping as a tool to measure the quality of retail service or gather specific information.

Armed with real time feedback, it also helps retailers improve their performance by providing a range of tools, training and professional advice.

Apart from housewives and young girls, male customers can also join the league of 'mystery shoppers' -- a concept popular in the US -- that has entered India recently. Once you register online with the agencies, you are paid to try out services and offers according to your profile and preferences.

"In a country like ours, where lot of women are home-makers, mystery shopping will help them in providing a helping hand in the home income," Grass Roots India Managing Director Samhita Rao told PTI.

"What we pay to our mystery shoppers varies on the nature of the assignment. They can easily earn from Rs 25,000 to Rs 1,00,000 annually by meticulously evaluating the business and filling an online feedback," she said.

There are, in fact, many big companies especially retail chains, malls which hire the services of companies which could provide feedback relating to their sales staff and product ranges, price and quality of items from "genuine buyers" especially housewives.

"One may be asked to do grocery shopping at a particular outlet or inquire at a consumer goods store and fill up an online feedback form. Your cheque at the end of the month usually includes an assignment fee plus reimbursement for shopping to a certain limit," Rao said.

In fact, mystery shopping is an emerging concept in India where people are paid on behalf of retailers to visit their establishments as normal customers, perform specific tasks -- such as purchasing a product, asking questions, registering complaints or behaving in a certain way -- and then provide detailed reports or feedback about their experiences.

It helps the organisations to evaluate products on offer and service levels of staff as well as to help improve their business in today's competitive environment.

"More importantly companies get to know the customers perception about their organisation," said a marketing head of a retail chain, which is hiring the service to train his employees and even to provide annual increments.

He said through mystery shopping the retail chains also evaluate customer service, cleanliness of an establishment, how helpful a salesperson is.

"We use mystery shopping as a means to generate actionable information -- that can be used to address gaps and would be incorporated into the organisational learning programmes," Rao said.

Sectors like retail, hospitality, banking, telecom and automotive sectors are keen to tie-up with companies to evaluate their employees' performance and behaviour, she said.

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