Restoring Trust with Mystery Shopping

Avoid harsh penalties by employing bespoke Mystery Shopping solutions

By Mandy Admiraal | 5th October 2018

With the slew of Australian banking scandals that have been uncovered in recent months, many companies in the financial sector are seeking to ensure code compliance across branches—and for good reason. In the wake of investigations by the Hayne Royal Commission, the federal government has enabled ASIC to impose harsher penalties against white-collar violators, with punishments including up to ten years in prison for individuals, corporate fines of at least $9.45 million or triple the profits gained or 10 per cent of annual company turnover. These new penalties send a strong message to the banking world that greed and negligence will no longer be tolerated by regulators. The potential outcomes could prove devastating for well-established institutions nationwide.

Apart from these legal and financial consequences, the banking industry is grappling with a shattered reputation in the eyes of consumers. Australian citizens have watched from their living rooms as hearings and headlines have revealed the years-long betrayal of the banking industry. Consumers now fear being taken advantage of by being duped into purchasing useless products, having direct debit cancellations unjustifiably denied, or being offered loans regardless of risk assessment results. With scepticism from the public bearing down on them, banks face an uphill battle to restore the faith of the people.

One way for financial institutions to press forward and build trust is by implementing visibly honest business practices. That is why it is of utmost importance that banks put forth conspicuous efforts to sniff out, halt, and amend any areas of non-compliance in as little time as possible. The first step in correcting code violations is, of course, identification. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to identify problematic aspects of the service process, especially when seeking across-the-board results at locations throughout the country. Nonetheless, collecting accurate data regarding on-the-ground execution of company policy is of utmost importance. This is where mystery shopping proves immeasurably valuable.

Face-to-face and call-in mystery shoppers offer a unique, inside perspective on day-to-day operations. They are equipped to ask specific questions to elicit particular responses from frontline representatives. These responses can then be evaluated for technical compliance based on pre-established protocol standards. Once problem areas are pinpointed, leaders can draft solution strategies and put them into action. This data-driven technique leads to increased compliance even in large corporations with diverse locations. Companies that have opted for multiple rounds of mystery shoppers over a 9-year span have reported more than a 50% increase in frontline service compliance.

In the contemporary climate, this increased compliance can translate into revived trust from consumers. Visible efforts to diagnose and address compliance issues can work to restore the financial industry’s tattered reputation, by reassuring citizens that banks are responding appropriately to the current national debacle. More specifically, by hiring mystery shoppers and publishing report findings, banks can show their clients that they are serious about conducting business in an ethical, code-compliant manner. Transparency plays a powerful role in rebuilding good faith, and mystery shopping offers banking professionals a way to bridge the trust gap they helped create.


Mandy Admiraal

General Manager
TKW Research

Mandy is a social research, compliance and customer engagement specialist with over 15 years’ experience in customer experience research program management, as well as designing and building highly innovative, bespoke research programs for high profile clients in Australia and internationally.Mandy specialises in mystery shopping with a strong emphasis on code compliance auditing in the banking and finance sector.Mandy may be contacted by email on or by phone on 03 8789 4444.