Watson's has had its own mystery shoppers' programme since 1994 and, according to Agnes Chan, human resources manager, it has helped to get an objective appraisal of the effectiveness of employee training programmes. The company employs five full-time mystery shoppers who visit each store on a weekly basis. Ms Chan said: 'We have designed a questionnaire which they follow. In our shops there is not much personal selling, the way there is in fashion, for example, so our mystery shoppers ask for the location of certain products. 'We expect the staff to take them to the location, not just say, 'It's over there'.' She said the mystery shoppers should always buy something because the most important contact between customers and staff was at the cashier's desk. 'We expect cashiers to be courteous, say goodbye and so forth.' When the HKRMA launched its programme, Watson's was only too happy to take part. 'We have been assessing ourselves according to our own requirements. With the HKRMA programme, we are able to compare ourselves to others in our field,' she said. Watson's scored the highest percentage in the HKRMA Mystery Shopper programme in the supermarket/convenience store category. 'The HKRMA programme did not vary much from ours. What we saw was confirmation and verification of our own results. We utilise the data results from both programmes in a very positive way,' Ms Chan said. 'We use results to identify areas of strengths and weaknesses. We try to recognise and reward good performance and we retrain those who don't perform too well.' The Watson's Mystery Shopper programme forms part of the Watson's Group Customer Care Programme. 'It is very important for us to be able to assess whether we are meeting company requirements for service standards,' she said. 'We link the programme with incentives, awarding customer care bonuses to individuals and stores who perform well because we don't want them to perceive the programme in a negative way.'