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Evaluation Of The Role Of Mystery Shoppers In Delivering Quality Service In Hospitality And Tourism

Introduction

Hospitality is a major global industry and a very complex one at that. The future of the industry depends upon satisfying experiences of customers, hence it is important to understand the concept of service quality and the processes associated with it. Customer satisfaction plays a central role in the long-term success of all organisations, whether goods or services. In simple terms any tangible products are referred to as goods and intangible products as services. Service has been defined as "any activity or benefit one party can offer to another that is essentially intangible and does not result in the ownership of anything. Production may or may not be tied to a physical product" (Kotler, et al, 1998). The service process or the encounter has been defined by Shostack (1985) as that period where the customer interacts with a service provider, and assesses the quality of the services provided and consequently, the satisfaction achieved (Kandampully, 2001). Service quality is concerned with the process of satisfying the customer so as to develop positive perception regarding the service provided (Ostrowski et al, 1993). But because services are characterised by intangibility, perishability, inseparability of production and consumption, and heterogeneity, it is very difficult to evaluate them. Various organisations have different methods to continuously monitor and analyse customer satisfaction levels, like complaints, surveys, feedback forms, suggestion boxes or formal written complaints, etc (Milakovich, 1995). One of the tools used for feedback from an unbiased perspective is Shoppers Studies, also referred to as mystery shopping or shopping surveys.

 

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