Mystery shoppers Rye grads rate customer service

The Ryersonian, April 12, 1995. Dana Bornstein

David Lipton and Craig Henry earn their living by complaining.

Lipton, 27, and Henry, 31, are mystery shoppers, paid to monitor customer service and employee performance.

Lipton and Henry are co-owners of Sensors Quality Management, a company that helps other companies maintain a high level of quality service by measuring quality, service, cleanliness and value.

“We do quality insurance work and the bulk of our work is mystery shopping,” said Lipton.

“I guess in a way it's consumer advocacy.”

The company monitors a range of industries, from restaurants and bars to hotels and resorts.

“We don't tell anybody how to run their business,” Lipton said. “We just let them know if their business is being run the way they want it to be run.”

Often, however, what Lipton and Henry do is misinterpreted as spying on employees and blowing the whistle.

Said Lipton: “We don't want to be perceived as big brother looking over the employees. We don't want to be spies.

“We want to monitor ongoing development.”

The aim of Sensors Quality Management is to help businesses provide good customer service, while increasing company sales and employee morale.

But Lipton said Canadian consumers are too lackadaisical about getting good service and are reluctant to complain about poor treatment.

One of Lipton's earlier experiences with the commercial world exemplifies the need for Sensors Quality Management.

While a student at Ryerson, Lipton was assigned a project to collect information on a certain product.

He contacted four companies, three of which could not be bothered to return his calls or give him the time of day.

One, however, spent half a day presenting a sales pitch, even though the sales representative knew there was no chance of any sale being made.

“Because he did this, if I was going into the restaurant business when I finished school, I don't think it's rocket science to figure out they would be the first company I would go to,” said Lipton.

“If they're going to treat me well as a student, they should be able to do a good job if I'm a client.”

Students, like all consumers, have the option to take their business elsewhere.

But students should be aware that companies should treat them better because of the potential to become regular customers.

If students have complaints about the way they were treated, they should not hesitate to call the company, Lipton says.

“If you could make a logical argument to the right people, you have a higher chance of succeeding in getting what you want.

“Don't get mad and start screaming and ranting and raving. You have to do things in a calm orderly approach.”

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