As mystery shoppers, we are paid to observe and offer unbiased reporting of our observations during a site visit. Yet we are all human, and there are times when we feel compassion for the store staff. Compassion sometimes make it difficult to write an unbiased report about our observations on a site visit. Certainly many reports can be written with that purely “black and white” vision that we are instructed to provide. Yet other assignments are far more complicated, and our own humanity can add in a gray-scale that really complicates matters. There are times when we as mystery shoppers feel compelled to be more lenient with store staff than a simply “black and white” reporting would allow. However, how lenient should you really be with store staff?
What Happens With Your Report? There are times when we as mystery shoppers are concerned that our comments in a report will reflect negatively on store staff. Of course, there are times when store staff probably should be fired, such as when they are grossly rude or negligent. Yet other times we can tell that they are just having a bad day. Perhaps you over hear them talking on the phone or to a co-worker about some drama they are going through, and your heart just bleeds. Yet this person is not doing their job up to par that day, and you are required to report on your observations on that particular day. Should you kick someone when they are really down and out?
In most cases, a report will be reviewed by store management, and store management likely has a clue what’s been going on in the lives of their employees. The management typically will not fire an employee outright based on one bad report, but instead will use the information you provide for training purposes. It does help the store management to provide every customer with better service if you provide them with accurate details about your experience in the store.
When and Where You Should Sugar Coat It. If you truly feel that there may be negative consequences for the employee for providing accurate details of your report, you can add a sentence or two about your beliefs. Typically, you want to stick to the facts, but if you feel that something truly needs to be added to the report, such as if you overheard the employee saying they just experienced a loss in the family or something of the sort, you may want to add this as a footnote in a section that asks for your overall opinion. Most reports will allow you to add an opinion or some type of commentary about your site visit, and this is the best place to do include information such as this. Keep in mind that you never want to just outright lie to protect an employee. Instead, you should write down your observations as well as the reason why you believe your experience was less than fabulous.
Each and every assignment you do as a mystery shopper is different. Some assignments are truly bad for really no reason at all except poor service while other assignments are bad for reasons that you may find to be reasonable and that you may even feel some compassion about. We all have bad days. Your job as a mystery shopper is to report the facts, but there are times when it may be OK to show that you have compassion for the employee, too.