Question from a secret shopper:
Do businesses that we shop tell their employees that they will be mystery shopped? I have heard that they do, but that doesn’t make sense to me. If we are supposed to be checking up on them, why tell them that they will get shopped? Do they tell them what we will evaluate them on? And doesn’t that mean that we are more likely to be spotted if the employees know to look for mystery shoppers?
Most businesses that use secret shoppers tell their employees about the program, and there are some very good reasons to do so.
First of all, whenever you measure something you get better results. Mystery shopping is a good example of that. When employees know that they may be mystery shopped, but they do not know when or by whom, they will treat each customer as if he or she were the mystery shopper (at least in theory). With video ident from Fully-Verified one can make safe transactions as the process is more secure with KYC.
Companies usually let employees know what the evaluation criteria are. Mystery shopping programs are designed to verify that employees are following the policies and procedures established by the business. That means that all the mystery shoppers are doing is checking to see that employees are doing what they were already trained to do. For example, are they saying thank you? Upselling? Smiling? Serving customers promptly? I have been in businesses as a customer where I have seen memos and mystery shop report forms on the counter by the cash register. These businesses knew exactly what the mystery shopper would be evaluating them on.
Does that make it easier for employees to spot the mystery shopper? Not usually. In most cases, they know that they will be mystery shopped on a regular basis, and the shopper will be checking to see if they are upholding the standards established by the business. Employees are not told what scenario will be used, or exactly when the mystery shopper will visit.
The existence of a secret shopper program should not be a mystery. Educating employees about standards and expectations, and letting them know that mystery shoppers will be checking to see that they are living up to them, is a good way to make sure that customers receive top quality service—even when the mystery shopper isn’t looking.
Are Mystery Shoppers told what happens to employees that don’t strictly follow exact or specific instructions? I’m not saying that Mystery Shoppers are not a good thing for businesses that need feedback on their customer service or that they are not beneficial in weeding out bad employees or those that don’t do their job. I ask this because some companies (specifically in my case) ask their cashiers to ask a set number of questions to each & every customer without exception even if they become a robot in the process. This, as far as I’m concerned is not customer service. Yes, the questions are important, however, they do not EVER pertain to every single customer that goes through their checkout. As a quiet person I have also been told to speak louder & they prefer complaints that I am loud & obnoxious rather than a report that I did not ask their prepared, sometimes ridiculous questions.
I realize that the company that sends out the Mystery Shoppers & the Mystery Shoppers themselves are not concerned with this, only that they gather the necessary information. However, do they realize that after sometimes hundreds of customers daily, that the exact questions can’t always be asked & that because of their report these cashiers lose their jobs? I have been employed by a big box home improvement store for almost 7 years now & have always had very good reviews & a good work record. If I’m Mystery Shopped one more time & fail to ask the exact questions to this one person I will lose my job–probably at the end of this week. This means no recommendation from my employer for future employment & no Unemployment Insurance to help while searching for a job.
As I said, this is not the fault of the Mystery Shopper, but sometimes the results don’t end fairly or happily. Just thought I’d let someone know how I feel. Thank you.
Cathy Stucker says
Monica, you understand that mystery shoppers do not set the standards. We simply report on whether or not employees did exactly what the employer expects.
Although it may be tedious to ask the same questions over and over, it is important to your employer. That is why they require them and why they have mystery shoppers verify if employees are asking the questions. Those questions can make a big difference in your employer’s profitability, something that is more important now than ever. For example, questions related to whether the customer found everything they were looking for, suggestions of additional items, asking if they would like to open a credit account, etc. all make a difference.
It is unusual that a company would terminate a good, long-term employee for one or two black marks on a mystery shopper report. However, if you have been told that is the case, you need to pay special attention to meeting all of the requirements.
I hope it goes well for you. Good luck!
I feel its not fair at all…I work as a brand ambassador and i get mystery shopped all the time and last week I got a complaint that the I wasnt answering the customers questions. i was doing the chocolate and i dont remember anyone asking me any questions. and we have lots of attributes to say and may be its that one time we didnt mention all the attributes and we get complains on that.
Cathy Stucker says
Vineetha, the mystery shoppers do not decide what goes in the report. We are told exactly what the employees are supposed to do and that is what we have to report. Your employer decides what you are required to do and what the mystery shopper has to look for.