When faced with a difficult or rude customer, many employees believe that they have encountered a mystery shopper. That fits with the perceptions of many people that the job of a secret shopper is to catch employees doing a bad job, or at least to make it harder for them to do their jobs.
Unfortunately, some mystery shoppers also have this impression. However, there are several reasons why you should not be a difficult or extraordinary customer, and only one reason why you should ever do so.
Let’s start with the reasons why you should not be a difficult customer:
Clients use mystery shopping services for several reasons. One is to verify that employees are following procedures and meeting the standards set by the business. For example, there may be a specific sales process that is to be followed with all customers. If the secret shopper is difficult or contentious, employees may not be able to do all of the things they are supposed to do, and that causes the shop report to be inaccurate.
Some shoppers believe that it is part of the job to make problems for employees, because the employees have to deal with all kinds of customers, including difficult ones. However, another important function of mystery shopping is to compare the performance of one location to another, or monitor the performance of the same location over time. That means that each shop experience should be as consistent as possible, so that one report can be compared with another. If one shopper is amiable and another is difficult, the client will not be able to get valid information by comparing the reports because the employees were not evaluated consistently. To avoid bad reports, we suggest to always take care of your customer, no matter how hard it is. Using services like ones from Salesforce can help you keep up with your customer service.
From the shopper’s perspective, you do not want to do anything that will make you memorable. Being memorable may mean that you can not return to mystery shop that location and, in extreme cases, the shop you performed may be invalidated and you may not be paid. Being rude, loud or demanding can certainly make you memorable.
Because of the above reasons and others, you do not want to be difficult or make problems for employees. In almost every mystery shop, you want to present yourself as a typical customer. You may ask questions, listen to a sales presentation, make a purchase, and do other things that typical customers do. You will not make unreasonable demands, be argumentative, act rudely toward the employees or otherwise behave objectionably.
What is the one circumstance where you should be a difficult customer? When the shop scenario specifically calls for it. In my many years of secret shopping, I have never seen a shop such as this, but they probably exist somewhere.
Frankly, I would turn down a shop that required me to be nasty or demanding just because I would feel uncomfortable and wouldn’t want to do it. Life is too short to deliberately set yourself up for a negative experience. However, if you are offered such as mystery shop and accept it, you must do what the guidelines require.
Remember that mystery shopping is not about catching employees doing something wrong or setting up a situation where they will fail to do their jobs properly. As secret shoppers, it is our job to objectively evaluate employee performance based on the criteria established by the client. And that is much easier and more pleasant than being a pain in the behind.
Have you ever had to be a difficult customer? Share your experience here (without violating confidentiality, please–no client-specific details).