Have you ever looked at something on a mystery shop report form and wondered, “Who comes up with this stuff?” Most of us have, at one time or another, seen report questions, scenarios and other shop requirements that seemed unrealistic or just plain weird.
Although they may seem strange to us, those things are in the report for a reason: The client wants them there. The mystery shopping company may make recommendations or provide suggested guidelines and report forms, but the client decides what information they want from shops.
Businesses have service standards, and many of the questions on mystery shop reports relate to those standards. When you see a question about how long it took to get your food, or how much time passed before you were greeted, that is because that client has standards about how long those things should take. The same goes for things such as saying thank you, using your name or other shop details.
Suggestive selling is important to clients, so there will often be questions about whether the salesperson or cashier suggested an additional item, or the server recommended dessert. Those small questions can add a lot to the client’s bottom line, so they matter.
But what about the strange stuff? Do they want the employees to figure out who the shopper is? No, they don’t. First of all, what you or I think is weird may not be. I felt silly when I had to go to a store and try to buy a pair of mismatched shoes (two different sizes), but customers really do that. When they do, they leave the store with two shoes that can not be sold. It is the same as stealing from the store, and that is why they want cashiers to catch it.
And those weird questions we have to ask? They may not expect employees to know some obscure bit of information about a product, but want to know what they will do when asked. Will they look up the answer in their training manual? Ask another employee? Guess? Shrug their shoulders and say, “I dunno”?
Ask yourself this: When I have had to do things that I was sure would make it obvious that I was the mystery shopper, how did employees do on the shop? If they suddenly switched from being inattentive to Employee of the Month mode, it may be that they figured out that you were the mystery shopper. But how often does that happen?
Many employees still (wrongly) assume that the customer giving them a hard time, being demanding and obnoxious, is the mystery shopper. Not the customer asking dumb questions.
Never change the scenario or substitute other questions for what you are instructed to ask. Those questions are there for a reason, and failing to follow the guidelines could invalidate your shop.
Even when you are certain that the scenario will give you away as the secret shopper, remember that real customers do weirder things than we are asked to do.