The observation technique is used mostly in qualitative research. It involves overt or covert observation of individual or group behaviour in a specific situation.
Observation is particularly useful in those cases where information collected using survey methods is not sufficient or falls short of reflecting the full nature of a given trend. A researcher (observer) uses a standardised list of relevant information (behaviour), which should be described and explained by means of observation.
Mystery Shopper/ Caller
The mystery shopper or caller research technique is most commonly used when assessing staff behaviour toward customers, examining consumer behaviour in real-life conditions and evaluating the environment in which specific products are sold.
Mystery shopping is used to assess the quality of service provided by stores and customer service points. The person playing the part of the mystery shopper performs pre-determined tasks, such as enquiring about a particular service or offering, buying a product or filing a complaint. Throughout the process, the mystery shopper observes the behaviour of the attending employee and, upon leaving the sales environment, records his or her observations on a specially prepared form.
This technique can also be used to review the quality of customer service provided over the telephone.
The basis for assessing the quality of service should be a defined benchmark of behaviour that has previously been demonstrated or taught to those people involved in providing customer service (i.e. in the form of internal customer service quality standards or training).