BARE International Celebrates 25 Years in the Customer Experience Industry

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BARE International, a customer experience measurement consultancy, and one of the top five global mystery shopping companies, celebrates its 25 year anniversary in 2012. Riding the wave of economic troughs and peaks and changing trends in its target industries, BARE International continues to work with client businesses across hospitality, retail, automotive, financial, and other industries to ensure customers receive an excellent customer experience.

“It’s all about our clients. We are there to guide and support them in measuring success and denoting opportunities. Ultimately, it’s about the satisfaction of their customers, clients or guests, satisfaction and achieving this in a profitable context.”

Clients are able to build on a mystery shopping program to a wider evaluation of their customer experience and keep coming back: unlike the client retention rate amongst competitors of two to three years, BARE International averages eight years or more. For Michael Bare, co-founder with wife Dale Bare and current CEO of the company the high-level of customer focus makes their offering unique:

“It’s all about our clients. We are there to guide and support them in measuring success and denoting opportunities. Ultimately, it’s about the satisfaction of their customers, clients or guests, satisfaction and achieving this in a profitable context.”

Known initially as “Restaurant and Hotel Services”, BARE International was founded in 1987 as a mystery shopping provider to restaurants to ensure their service remained impeccable and consistent. Michael Bare (‘Mike’ Bare) had 15 years’ experience in the hospitality industry, including time as a regional director of an international Mexican restaurant chain. The team of husband and wife began sending mystery shoppers to restaurants to evaluate the service and integrity. When asked where his motivation in getting 100% in customer service mystery shopping scores came from, Mike explains: “if you know your customers they will validate your success and challenges.”

This is a motto which has held true for BARE International to this day. From humble beginnings as a start-up with $12 and a used IBM typewriter, the company quickly evolved to covering mystery shopping in 35 US states during its first year. Today, BARE International owns 8 offices globally with operations in 137 countries.

Moreover, BARE International has seen quite some changes in the mystery shopping market in the last quarter of a century: “In the beginning we received all mystery shopping reports by mail. Our next technological leap was a fax machine. Then we developed computer operational software, began building shopper profiles and made our business more efficient.”

In 1997, Mike Bare became co-founder of the Mystery Shopping Providers’ Association (MSPA) that brought together mystery shopping providers in North America. Today, the MSPA is a global trade body covering 4 continents. Mike remains active on the global board.

In 1998, the company launched “Video Eyes”, offering video and audio mystery shopping and made this available to businesses in the US. This involved hidden cameras filming the interaction between employee and customer as a visual training tool to change employee behavior.

The company became known as BARE International in 1999 and the 1st international office in Europe was opened in Antwerp in 2000. International and cross-cultural communication has remained a key component of the business with video trainings being dubbed into different languages for different markets.

What is the plan for the next 25 years? Further industry expansion and increased use of mobile technology building on the company’s current social media analysis. For Mike Bare the objective is clear:

“We thrive in helping businesses make a difference to their customers’ experience”.

BARE International is a customer experience measurement consultancy that has been active in mystery customer research for 25 years. With offices in four continents and half a million independent evaluators around the globe, BARE’s mission is to inspire excellence by helping companies in diverse industries attain a higher level of customer experience. BARE provides companies with analysis and research data, transformed into actionable insights in order to improve customer experiences for its clients.

Today, BARE is a trusted research partner to a number of Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 companies as well as companies more local in nature as well as a fieldwork partner to some of the world’s largest market research companies. Almost 300 full time employees around the globe ensure that the data collected in over 137 countries is transformed into actionable insights and knowledge with a high emphasis on quality and data integrity.

BARE believes that excellent customer experience is achieved by the optimal combination of standards and procedures, committed and engaged employees and a vigorous focus on customer feedback.

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Melanie Blewett
Porter Novelli
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