Human beings seem to have an aversion to quiet. Too often, we rush to fill up any silence with a stream of words. When you are mystery shopping, that can be a mistake.
As mystery shoppers, we are there to observe and report, not to influence the outcome of the shop. One of the best ways to do that is by talking no more than is necessary.
Obviously, we need to speak on mystery shops. There are questions that need to be asked or answered, and appropriate conversations to hold. Saying too little is almost as bad as saying too much. But saying too much can affect the outcome of the mystery shop.
Here are some ways that talking too much on a mystery shop can make the shop go wrong.
You say too much and cut off questions. Most of the time, salespeople are expected to ask questions to determine a customer’s needs. That may be part of the report. If the mystery shopper starts off by saying, “I need to buy a birthday gift for my nephew. He’s nine and loves soccer. And I don’t want to spend more than $30,” they have eliminated several questions that the employee might ask.
You give too many details. Keep both your questions and answers short and to the point. When you need to ask for a receipt, simply say, “May I have a receipt?” Do not launch in to a long explanation of why you are asking for one. Too often, when secret shoppers think that something they must say or do on a shop will make them look like the shopper, they do something even more attention-getting to try to cover. Just act natural when talking with employees, and remember that real customers do some of the goofy stuff we are asked to do.
You lead the employee. Sometimes employees do not ask the questions or make the recommendations we expect based on the mystery shop guidelines. The temptation is there to ask about those things; however, if the employee is supposed to bring them up, you should wait for the employee to do so. For example, the report may ask if the salesperson told you about this month’s special offer. Asking if they have “any special deals if I buy today,” might lead them to tell you about the special, even if they would not have mentioned it without your question.
You are too knowledgeable. In most shops you are supposed to represent the typical customer. I have a background in life and health insurance. If I were evaluating an insurance agent, I would not let them know that I have years of experience in the industry and that I am a licensed agent. That would influence how they presented to me. Asking questions that a typical customer would not ask also makes you stand out. Be a blank slate, there to learn.
You use their jargon. The shop guidelines may use terminology that is specific to the industry or the client. Tossing around these terms by saying things such as, “I need to talk to a CSR about taking out a GR7 unsecured loan,” instantly marks you as something other than a typical customer. They may suspect that you are the mystery shopper, or they may fail to give you all of the information about the product, assuming that you are already very familiar with it.
You don’t let them talk. If a secret shopper keeps up a steady stream of chatter, the employee may not be able to ask questions, make suggestions, or otherwise say and do the things that are expected of them. Give them a chance to speak.
Remember that as a mystery shopper your job is to listen. Know your guidelines so that you ask the questions you need to ask and give appropriate answers to employees’ questions. Then be quiet and let them speak.