Mystery Shopping Reports: How To Make The Most Impact


I’ve had a few conversations this week that made me ponder this topic….each company utilizes mystery shop reports very differently, with each having their own goals in mind for making the most of the program.


The most popular uses I’ve seen include:


* The report goes to the location manager, who reviews the report with the staff involved. Everyone is aware of when the shop took place, where the employees did well, and what areas need improvement.


* The report is shared with managers and staff, but the date and time are removed from the report. Their thinking (which I am a HUGE fan of) is “it’s not the when and where that matters, it’s the “how can we improve?” I’ve seen this especially in cases where there is not a strong employee buy in to the mystery shopping program, and employees tend to try to argue low scoring reports, saying they knew it was the shopper, the shopper was wrong, etc.


* Mystery shopping reports for all locations are publicly posted for all to see – these clients see the data as a learning tool and somewhat of a “competitive” tool. Employees don’t want reports where they’re not doing well to be displayed, so they work extra hard to make sure that they consistently provide good service so their high scoring reports will be what their coworkers see.


* Similar to the above, companies will post monthly scores for all locations in a public space. This creates a sense of competition, which can be fun and motivating.


The last one is a bit more concerning..a friend shared with me that her company is mystery shopped. While not providing me with specific details, she did say she was a bit bothered with the way the results are shared with them.  There are multiple shops conducted on a monthly basis, and each month her manager will talk with each employee who was shopped and simply give them their performance percentage.


There was one time where her score was fairly low and she asked for more information on what it was that she did wrong, hoping to improve on the next shop. The manager simply said, “I can’t tell you that. I wasn’t given the actual report, and I don’t think the shoppers comment on what was wrong. Just do better next time.”


She was upset since she didn’t know what it was she needed to improve on, and I was upset for her. The point of mystery shopping is to learn what is good and what needs improvement – if that’s not shared with the staff, it can create a sense of defeat and low morale.


From my vantage point, I was bothered by the fact that something went awry in her interaction and, according to their manager, the shopper didn’t provide commentary. I realize that the days of heavy narrative based reports are fading away – people are too busy to read lengthy reports – but narrative detail IS important, especially for the questions that are rated less than excellent.


It’s human nature to want to do well and succeed. Mystery shopping reports can help achieve that goal if they are set up properly. If your company chooses not to show the entire report to the employees, that is perfectly fine; however, do share information that will help them improve. And, if you’re a company that is using a simple checklist based or quantitative only questions with no comments, it may be time to rethink your program.




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