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Based on the Mystery Shopping methodology which is used in German Sparkassen (Savings Banks), Sparkassenstiftung has developed a similar tool in Eastern Africa. It allows Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) and Savings and Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) to recognize their deficiencies in customer care and provide them with customized trainings to enhance the quality of their services.
Through trained observers, so-called mystery shoppers, who act as normal customers, the service quality of a MFI or a SACCO is ascertained in real customer situations. In Eastern Africa employees of other MFIs/SACCOs or external people from the microfinance sector like customers are trained as mystery shoppers. Therefore, the tested service employees does not notice that these are test purchases.
The service activities are evaluated through to a catalog of criteria which make an objective evaluation of quality aspects possible.
In addition to the quality of the service (e.g. purchase advice), general factors such as friendliness and independency of the service as well as order and cleanliness of the MFI or SACCO are tested.
After the test, the results are evaluated and presented to the management of the tested MFI/SACCO. Gaps show training needs and fields for possible improvement. In that sense Mystery Shopping is contributing to capacity development in the microfinance sector and to improved service quality which allows better access to financial products for MFI/SACCO clients and consequently contributes to financial inclusion.
Several Mystery Shopping training has been provided through our partner organisations supported by Sparkassenstiftung in Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. The microfinance sector has welcomed this program with enthusiasm.