Mystery shoppers to keep a check on Indian Railways services! Soon, Indian Railways services will be tracked by “mystery shoppers”, who will pose as regular train passengers in order to secretly check the standards of services being provided by the national transporter, including food, staff behaviour, amenities for passengers, quality of trains and of railway stations. According to an IE report, these mystery shoppers will be part of a quality audit system that is mainly used by the hospitality as well as retail sectors in market research. Once these mystery shoppers track the services, they will report their findings to the Indian Railways for follow-up action. This step is a first-of-its-kind by Indian Railways. At present, the Railway Board is still giving finishing touches to the policy, the report stated.
Some official sources were quoted in the report as saying that these mystery shoppers deployed by Indian Railways will also interact with the transporter’s passenger interface at various levels from trains to railway stations. Not only that, they will also rate them against pre-determined parameters. The sources further stated that the move will help to ascertain compliance with rules and regulations on the ground level. Also, for policy intervention, the assessment of the railway services will be updated live on a web-based dashboard. The sources also said that in order to engage human resources for the job, the Quality Council of India could also be nominated for a fee. The sources added, that there are also plans to supplement this mechanism with scouts, guides, and voluntary organisations. Moreover, the identities of these shoppers will be kept secret and will not be revealed to any railway employee on the field.
The monetary value of the contract has not been decided yet. Also, there are discussions on whether to start the drive on a small scale with around 50 mystery shoppers. At present, every day, the national transporter conducts more than 40,000 inspections at all levels to complement policy intervention, which also includes surprise checks. However, the policymakers believe that the mystery shopping will differ from surprise checks.