By Aabiya Baqai
Ghaida Fatany gives us insight into what mystery shopping is all about and how she got into this field.
Tell us about what you do.
I am and always will be a market researcher; helping clients by arming them with the knowledge they need to achieve their goals (increase sales, understand the market, improve service or even know how people perceive them). We are the voice of the public communicated to companies and governments. After 17 years of experience in social and market research, in 2013 Research Corner was established, with two brands under its umbrella, InLight Consultancy focusing on Social and Market Research consultancy and WeCritique specializing in Mystery Shopping.
What exactly is mystery shopping?
Although mystery shopping has been around for more than 70 years, many people have never heard of this type of service. Mystery shopping is an area of work which is rapidly growing in popularity for organizations.
Every mystery shopping project have the same goals working covertly to increase an entity’s sales, reduce risk of liability, making employees more aware of their customers, and improving customer experience and satisfaction. All of this is done using a special process in which the mystery visitor/shopper would take on an assignment, go to the business anonymously, and note very specific elements of their entire experience, be it about products or services.
All visit data/information is then gathered, analyzed and reported back to the client with a plan or recommendations on improving and/or maintaining their performance.
How did Research Corner (WeCritique and Inlight Consultancy) come about?
Market research has always been my passion. I started my career at Savola research unit then joined Synovate International for 14 years (a UK based research firm). In 2013, I decided to go solo and open my own entity after identifying specific market gaps. Mystery Shopping can work for any business, it’s a strong tool used to assist clients improve their business in various ways. The consumer is becoming more and more demanding and there is higher competition in all fields of sales increasing by the day.
“As a Saudi, I aim to promote the importance of market research in our society from small business to government entities to improve and upgrade the services and offerings around us.” – Ghaida Fatany
How is WeCritique different from other mystery shopper companies?
I would say our local knowledge and expertise combined with the international standards we apply is where we stand out. We take pride in the service we offer our clients, we work closely with them until the implementation phase and monitoring its effect over time, so we witness first hand their success stories.
What is the key to becoming a successful mystery shopper?
Being an anonymous visitor requires full awareness of the objectives in hand and paying attention to details so their feedback form serves the analysis phase effectively. That is why all our mystery shoppers/visitors go under tailored training for each project separately.
Is mystery shopping a common service around the GCC?
Many governments, like the UAE for example, conduct on-going mystery visits to improve and maintain the service they offer. This is not uncommon for many countries around the world. We hope that this culture is fully adapted in our country on various levels. We take pride in assisting governments and the private sector in improving what they have to offer creating a better customer experience.
Word of advice for businesses looking to improve their sales and customer loyalty?
It is all about your customer experience and building your customer loyalty. They can become your ambassadors to moving forward or your enemy in pushing you back. Word of mouth is a very strong tool in Saudi Arabia.
Although in many countries this culture is very popular, here not so much. We work together with many clients in different industries and sectors to reflect the knowledge we gain into doable solutions. We believe we make a big impact on the businesses we touch. I really hope we are able to increase awareness on this amazing method of research across many more entities.
“Any recommendation we provide needs to be solid for implementation and will play a role in the company’s future success.” – Ghaida Fatany