I read recently where Indian Railways are going to begin using mystery shoppers as a way to check on the quality of their services.
In a “first-of-its-kind step,” mystery shoppers will pose as regular train passengers in order to check the service standards provided by the national railway.
Since train travel is a major source of transportation — many countries have more extensive and usable public transportation than the United States — and because they provide so many other services like food and beverages, Indian Railways is setting up the mystery shopper program.
According to an article in the Financial Express, the shoppers will “. . . secretly check the standards of services being provided by the national transporter, including food, staff behaviour, amenities for passengers, quality of trains and of railway stations.”
The passengers will also check the railway’s passenger interface, including the trains and railway stations, plus I imagine, the ticket sales. They’ll be rated on predetermined parameters, and those results will be uploaded to the Railway Board’s web-based dashboard for review and any corrective action.
The Railway Board is still hammering out a lot of the policy details, including how many mystery shoppers they will use (right now, they’re discussing whether to start with 50), although there are currently more than 40,000 daily inspections at all levels, including surprise checks.
But — and this is where using mystery shoppers are important — people behave differently when there are known inspections taking place. Just like store and restaurant employees will be on their best behavior when the manager is around, but may slack off a bit when the manager is gone, I’m sure these railway employees will behave differently when they know a regular inspection is occurring.
Since the identities of these mystery shoppers will be kept a secret — that’s why it’s a mystery, folks! — the Indian Railways employees can never be sure whether they’re being checked. As a result, the staff will hopefully practice better behavior since they can never be sure whether they’re being watched or not.
Measure CP provides mystery shopping services for all kinds of businesses, from restaurants to retail stores, from gas and service stations to car dealers. If you ever need mystery shoppers for your own transportation agency, please visit our website. You can also speak to one of our experts to help you develop your own mystery shopper program for your own business.