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Spying on the mystery shopper : a study of the reliability concerns with respect to the method

Render, D.J. (2014) Spying on the mystery shopper : a study of the reliability concerns with respect to the method.

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Abstract:Aim. Based on literature regarding service quality measurement, service quality has been classified into four distinctive levels: the physical environment, the employee, policies & proficiencies and the overall service quality evaluation. Level 1 includes attributes regarding physical aspects around and in the store, Level 2 refers to the employee behavior and the employee‐customer interaction, Level 3 consists of policies and proficiencies and Level 4 is the combining level for an overall impression of the service quality based on Level 1, 2 and 3. A known phenomenon from psychology is the Halo Effect which states that individuals do not evaluate single object attributes, but tend to evaluate them as a whole in order to maintain cognitive consistency. The aim of this study was to approach the question whether this effect applies in case of mystery shopping evaluations. Therefore hypotheses regarding the possible effects of Level 1 on other levels, Level 2 on other levels and the composition of Level 4 have been developed and tested. Method. In order to test whether the Halo Effect has consequences for the reliability of mystery shopping, a 2 (Level 1) x 2 (Level 2) experiment was performed in a Dutch supermarket. Sixty four mystery shoppers were instructed to perform a mystery shopping visit and were not aware of the fact that their behavior was actually the object of investigation. Due to the fact that the Levels 1 and 2 have repeatedly been found to be important dimensions in the evaluation of service quality, they were chosen as variables to be manipulated. Results. A SPSS analysis of the data revealed that Level 1 had no significant effect on any of the other service levels. Level 2 evaluations had a marginally significant effect on Level 3, while no significant effects on Level 1 could be found. Furthermore it has been proven that the overall service evaluation is based on the other three service levels, with Level 2 as strongest predictor. Discussion. Based on the results, it can be stated that mystery shoppings’ reliability is not undermined by the Halo Effect, due to the fact that mystery shoppers are able to evaluate Level 1 and Level 2 independently, despite the fact that the Halo Effect suggests otherwise. Finally some valuable suggestions for further research, focusing on the pressing questions on the reliability of mystery shopping are made.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/65019
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