One thing many shoppers wonder about is what happens to their reports after they press “submit.” Who looks at the reports? What do they do with them?
Of course, every company and client may be a little different, but here is what happens in a typical situation.
First, the report goes to an editor or quality control reviewer. The job of the editor is to make sure that the report meets all of the client requirements. They look at things such as:
- Did the shopper go to the right location?
- Did they visit on the correct day, and at the right time?
- Was the report submitted by the report deadline?
- Did the shopper include all necessary scans and photos (e.g., receipt, photo of building exterior, photos of entrees, whatever the client has asked for)?
- Are all questions answered?
- Are all required comments and narratives present?
- Are there comments for every No or N/A answer?
- Is the spelling, grammar and punctuation correct?
- Do the comments make sense or are they confusing?
- Do the comments match the Yes/No answers?
If there are any problems with the report, or clarification is needed, the editor will contact the shopper. Once the report has been finalized, it will be sent to the client.
Clients want their data as soon as they can get it, so there is urgency in getting report data to clients. The fresher the data, the more valuable it is to clients. Reports are made available online so clients can drill into the raw data and get exactly what they need. They may want to see results company-wide, or within a region or division, or they may want to see how a specific location or even an employee is doing. They can run reports in a variety of ways to get exactly what they need to run their business more effectively. Systems used by the mystery shopping companies enable clients to slice-and-dice report data so they can see broad patterns or very specific information about one visit to one location.
Reports also may go back to the location that was evaluated, so they can see the results. I have been in stores where mystery shop reports were posted on the bulletin board in a public area. (They were there for the employees, but they were visible to anyone.) I have heard from many employees that the mystery shop results were shared with the employees who were named in the report, or shared at employee meetings. One person told me that she worked for a company where the mystery shop report was blown up to poster size and hung in the employee break room! Showing the reports to the employees lets them see how they performed on the shop, and it reinforces the importance the company puts on the service standards they have in place.
So what do they do with all of this data? The results of mystery shopper reports may be used to identify training needs. Are employees failing to upsell? That hurts the bottom line. Are they not thanking customers? Are there other problems that need to be addressed? Mystery shopping identifies them.
Mystery shopping also identifies the superstars. Who are the employees who are doing a great job? Did someone really stand out and go above and beyond what is expected? These employees may be recognized with awards and bonuses, and the report may be a part of their performance appraisal. Some companies use mystery shop reports as part of the employee evaluations or as a factor when determining bonuses.
Reports identify specific issues that need action. Some locations pay more attention to this than others. I used to shop a chain of supermarkets. I visited the same location over the course of months and found that same block of products and ice in the frozen food section, and the same burrito with a two-year-old freshness date. Nothing ever changed there. But at another location, I mentioned that storing the carts in the entry made it difficult for customers to get in and out of the store. The next time I was there, all of the carts had been moved! That is a fairly small thing, but it shows that our reports are read and they do make a difference.
Reports from mystery shoppers give businesses information they need to verify that their service standards are being met. In today’s competitive environment, this information is more important than ever.