One of the things many people believe about mystery shopping is that reports are often used to fire employees. In fact, employees may believe that secret shoppers have it as their goal to find bad things to put in their reports, and they arbitrarily add negative comments to mystery shop reports in order to “get” employees.
Employees may fear or resent secret shoppers because they think that if the shopper is in a bad mood and gives them a poor report, they could lose their jobs. You can see these ideas and attitudes on many of the employee sites that discuss mystery shopping.
So are employees correct? Are shoppers out to get them, and could they lose their jobs as a result?
First of all, let’s do away with a couple of myths:
Mystery shoppers are not looking for the bad. We are there to provide an objective report of what happened. We do not look for negatives, but record the good and the bad. Most shoppers prefer writing positive reports for two reasons: we want employees to look good, and good reports are easier to write. (The more ‘no’ answers on the report, the more comments we have to write.)
Mystery shoppers do not decide what makes good or poor performance. We are simply evaluating whether employees meet the standards set by their employers. Secret shopping is not opinion research, it is the reporting of facts. And the types of facts we report are based on the questions asked by the client/employer.
Once clients receive our reports, they decide how to use the information. Does that mean they will fire employees who receive reports showing they performed poorly? Probably not. Although mystery shop reports may be used as one factor in employee evaluations, it is unlikely that one poor report would result in an employee being terminated. That would have to be one really bad report.
What is more typical is that the report would be used to counsel the employee to help them do a better job in the future. Most employers use some sort of progressive discipline, involving several steps before termination. If the employee has a history of poor performance, the mystery shop report would be one piece of documentation in the employee’s file, but it would not be the one thing that causes termination.
Most mystery shopping companies advise clients that mystery shopping should not be used as a stick with which they club employees. It is a tool to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of a business, and to determine the adjustments needed to improve as well as recognizing the people who are doing well