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(2017-10-05) SCMP Interview 2

Here is what a mystery shopper’s job is like

Pinky Lee Ngan-ming, is an actor with one role to play – a shopper.

As a full-time mystery shopper, she would drop in at a restaurant for a meal, inquire about the services at a beauty salon, go to a bank to open an investment account and check out wedding ring options at a jewellery shop. And all for the purpose of picking out any of the businesses’ sore points and assessing the quality of service.

“I think I look like a regular female customer in a restaurant or a fashion shop, so I could easily pass off as a customer,” said Lee, who is also the assistant operating manager at Mansfield Consulting, a mystery shopping service provider.

Lee joined Mansfield five years ago when the start-up was set up to offer the service to help businesses improve their service quality.

The firm said its business had been growing annually as a rising number of companies in Hong Kong – from banks to different types of retailers and restaurants – are engaging mystery shoppers to test out their service standards to make improvements.

Lee’s shopping trips are scripted, and can sometimes be a double act.

‘I’d need to prepare a script with my boyfriend about our pretend wedding plan, when I need to be a mystery shopper at a jewellery shop and pretend to buy our wedding rings,” she said.

In most of the cases that she has handled, the major weakness of many retailers or restaurants was that the staff were not polite enough, and some salespeople were overly aggressive in trying to sell their products.

“Sometimes the staff are very smart and might have figured out that I am a mystery shopper. That’s when your empty plate is cleared quickly at a fast-food restaurant and the staff offers you a tooth pick, where the service is similar to that at a five-star hotel,” Lee said.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: What it’s like to play role of a shopper

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