Last week we covered RedQuanta, a rather interesting startup from the Morpheus portfolio into the mystery shopping space. Here’s an interview with Pankaj Guglani, founder of RedQuanta, on how the model is being received in the market.
1. How difficult is it to convince Indian business owners to try out mystery shopping, given that this is a pretty new concept and not very popular in India?
In India due to various factors the use of Mystery Shopping is still very low and service providers have to take up the role of generating awareness. In many discussions with the management to pitch for Mystery shopping services I am told that the organization is still in the process of formulating processes and documenting SOP’s. Since there are no standards the measurement cant be done to check the adherence to them. Other reason for not using this technique is lack of training for the frontline staff. There are other similar reasons and all of them point to a notion of first achieving operational excellence and then measuring it. What is needed is a practical approach that works i.e. of continuous measurement and improvement. Gradual steps to improve the customer experience along with measurement to get actionable insights is what is required to build a culture of delivering superior customer experience.
2. Do you think there could be other “social incentives” apart from paying cash to mystery shoppers? Has RedQuanta experimented any?
As a consumer who does mystery shopping you get a chance to use your observation and intelligence to help improve the experience. You also play a part in increasing service standards in general. In India consumers are not very demanding in terms of service, we play a part in raising their expectations from the retail service experience.
Since a good percentage of our shoppers are from good economic background money is not the only incentive for them to work with us. One of the initiatives we have in pipeline is to give shoppers a option of instead of taking cash we can sponsor a child in CRY etc. on behalf of the shopper when he has done certain number of shops with us etc.
3. Have you ever had to reject a submission from a Mystery Shopper and under what conditions?
We reject around 1% of reports. Lack of proof of visit, insufficient details, enough time not being spent in the outlet etc. are some of the reasons for this.
4. Do you offer consultancy services also and integrate Mystery Shopping as a part of it?
To maximize the use of a mystery shopping program there is a need to continuously analyze data from different perspectives. This requires time and we recognize that management don’t have hours to spend interpreting data. So we provide our clients with an expert analysis service of the reports to give them actionable insights. Recommendations are also part of this analysis.
We provide niche consultancy where the main aim is to increase the ROI on mystery audits by understanding and acting on the findings.
5. Have you had customers wanting to do a mystery shopping on a competition?
Yes we have done it for couple of clients. Once a client wanted to enter a new city and we gave him a complete analysis of customer experience at two major competitors, which helped him plan the entry strategy. Otherwise clients also approach us to do competition shopping to benchmark their standards against industry.
6. Do you think with rise of tools like twitter where people generally tend to share negative experiences, business would rather monitor those and get real time feedback from a larger set of audience rather than a small set that could have experienced one negative instance or missed that the negative experience for that one time.
Mystery audit is for diagnosis and not broad feedback on experience. A typical audit questionnaire has 50-100 questions which the auditor reads and understands before doing the audit. Anyone who has not gone for the purpose of audit can’t recall so many details.
Also the objective of audits is not only to bring out negatives but also to find best practices. We strongly encourage our clients to use it for reward purposes also.
7. Have you had business owners willing to iterate on the feedback and then get someone to mystery shop again? As in really use the feedback?
Most of our clients do mystery shopping on monthly basis. They have tied up incentives and promotions of their staff with our reports. HR and marketing departments also use the reports. Still there is a lot more that can be done using the reports but is currently not done because of various reasons.
8. What is RedQuanta doing different from its competitors like ShopMax or GrassRoots?
a. Attracting and retaining good quality shoppers:We treat shoppers as our other set of clients in terms of importance for our business. We are very responsive to them and understand that they dont just work for money and need to be treated as a partner not just a field worker.
We strictly avoid professional shoppers who approach us and are working for number of other companies as they dont match the income and lifestyle segment of most of our clients. Their feedback is mechanical and they can’t relate to the experience to comment on it.
b. Partnering Clients and not just dumping data on them: Our complete approach is based on getting clients to act on the findings and help them derive maximum ROI. For this we give a crisp monthly/quarterly analysis to our clients which is actionable. Also we continuously work on evolving the observation parameters and shopping scenarios to reflect the customer needs.
9. Any plans to launch or integrate a social media tool or forum like MouthShut to get collective experience?
We are planning some social media initiatives to raise awareness on mystery shopping among people(not clients). But there are no plans for a review site.
Do share your take on Mystery Shopping in India.
[Naman is a startup enthusiast and has worked with couple of Indian startups as Product Manager. He is the founder of FindYogi]