What If My Employee Spots a Shopper?

April 7, 2017

When I worked in the wireless industry, our parent company used to send mystery shoppers into our stores to measure how well we followed their prescribed customer experience (a literal flowchart we had posted in our backroom), as well as to test our promotion and product knowledge.  We had to remember to explain everything from our network advantages to our local business discounts.

Despite the volume of people we saw every day, we would sometimes correctly identify if someone were a mystery shopper.  When this happened, I remember distinctly going into a kind of mental checklist mode where I made sure I covered every point our parent company wanted.  In other words, I got good at getting high scores that way.

You might think that’s a bad thing, right?  An employee trying to game the mystery shopping system, making it hard to get a sense of how good he or she really is.  But it’s more complicated than that, and maybe it’s not as bad as you think.

First, you’d be surprised how employees still manage to not earn perfect scores, despite their suspicions.  (I know this was true for me!)  Second, the awareness that a mystery shopper could come in at any time should make employees obsess about always doing their best.  In fact, this concern will cause employees to often mistake normal customers for mystery shoppers as they become increasingly invested in trying to get great scores.  Mystery shoppers make for great practice, and employees who strive to hit all their points and deliver A+ work with mystery shoppers will get really good at delivering A+ work with all their real customers, too.

This was absolutely the case for me.  I sometimes saw mystery shoppers where there were none.  The net effect of this was that I started becoming more and more thorough in my sales pitch, essentially becoming that A+ employee that the scores often showed.  After awhile, this level of effort become routine to me — a habit.  And that’s ultimately what you should want for your employees, too.

Our founder, John Brandt Jr., likens sales and service to a kind of theatre performance, and that the employees should always look to act their best, whether they know there’s a critic in the house or not.  When they suspect a critic is there, any performer worth anything will make every effort to deliver great work.  Anything less should clue an employer in to a different problem.  And pretty soon, that repetition will make all your employees better performers overall.

So while we prefer that employees not guess that a visitor is actually a mystery shopper, on the occasions that they’re right, there’s still a great opportunity for development and growth.

To learn more about how to best implement Mystery Shopping into your business, contact us at The Brandt Group and we’ll help your employees turn in great performances every day.

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