What If We Treat All Customers Like They Were The Secret Shopper?


While flipping through channels last week, I came across this NBC Show called Superstore. At first glance, it seems to be a rather cheesy sitcom that is dangerously close to the look and feel of Walmart.


I could not help but notice when they started talking about “secret shoppers” – take a listen to the first two minutes of the episode:



A few points made me laugh out loud, mostly because these are things we’ve heard from clients’ employees over the last 17 years. This show highlights many of the misconceptions around mystery shopping:


1. Mystery shopping isn’t used to ‘clean house’  – on the contrary, mystery shopping programs help companies improve. In fact, most use them in a positive manner, whether it’s offering bonuses when scores come in high and key service points are hit, or factored into performance reviews.


2. One shop makes or breaks a location – mystery shopping programs are run best when shops are consistently performed each and every month. The frequency depends on the size of the business, so your company may conduct shops once per month, once per week, or even multiple times per week. It’s not about one shop report, but rather the trends that are shown over time.


And my favorite….


3. “Let’s spend our time figuring out who the shopper is and slather them with good service.” As you’ll see in this video, the manager says, “What if we were to treat every customer as the secret shopper?” That’s exactly the point! The goal of mystery shopping programs is to make staff aware of customer service expectations and make sure they happen on each and every customer interaction.


This was a fun way to highlight employee views of mystery shopping in a fun, exaggerated manner, but also drives home the misperceptions in the industry. If your staff are feeling this way, it might be a good idea to review how you are portraying the program to your staff and reminding them of the overall objective of the program.


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