Anita Kornegay is making strides to ensure the downtown stores and shops exhibit the best customer skills possible - even if she has to go about it in a mysterious way.

Kornegay, the downtown development director for Waxahachie, is involved in a “Mystery Shopper” project.

This project is the collaboration of the Downtown Merchants Association and Waxahachie Partnership Inc. and is an attempt to instill the best quality of customer service.

The Downtown Merchants Association is a group of business owners mostly from the downtown area. The partnership has 10 members who are in charge of the master plan for the downtown area that was developed in 2000.

The initial idea for the use of a mystery shopper came from an association member during a meeting about a month ago.

“One of the members, Mark Singleton (president of Citizens National Bank of Texas), uses the mystery shopper to help build up customer service skills,” Kornegay said. “He offered the company he uses for a no charge trial run.”

Before the trial run could start, the association had to decide if this is something it wanted to pursue.

“The members of the DMA voted to adopt the program and raised $2,000 to do so,” Kornegay said. “At the next Waxahachie Partnership meeting, they agreed with the DMA and wanted to show their support of the idea by donating $2,000 for the mystery shopper program also.”

Around 29 stores and restaurants agreed to be part of the program.

Shoppers Inc. is the company that provides the mystery shoppers as well as evaluations for both stores and restaurants. It is based out of Broken Arrow, Okla., and has been in business for more than 21 years. It is also familiar with the area, as it has active clients with CNB and Braums.

“We allow the stores to see through the customer’s point of view,” said a spokesman for Shoppers Inc. “People want to go where they are treated best. We hope to provide them a place like that through our service.”

With everything in place, a trial run was held in June with six stores included as part of the evaluation process. The scores were less than what Kornegay expected.

“Our June visit scored a total of 71.6 percent,” she said. “However, in October, our scores jumped up to 91.33 after our first official run with the shoppers.”

The 20-point increase was proof the program works, Kornegay believes.

“Just them knowing we are doing this is already improving the stores in customer satisfaction,” Kornegay said.

E-mail Anthony at anthony.davila@wninews.com