Blurring the Truth: When Mystery Shoppers Go Too Far

As a mystery shopper, you are being paid via provides by a client to make unbiased observations that have been outlined for you in the mystery shopping requirements. Further, you are being paid to repair back to the client what those observations were by submitting a mystery shopping report. Your report is often used for employee training purposes, managerial development, store improvements and more. It is easy to think that the comments you provide in a report don’t matter, but the fact is that they do. Unfortunately, however, many mystery shoppers often feel the need to blur the truth when writing their reports.

What Happens

Some mystery shoppers believe their truthful responses may cause an employee to get fired or reprimanded. There may be times when you may have observed something that you believed was a one-time event rather than an event that commonly takes place, and you don’t want anyone to get in trouble for it. Other times, a mystery shopping provider may pressure you to make changes to your report or to bias your report, often in a positive light. Of course, by making these changes or by blurring the truth, you are not reporting accurate events.

The Effects of a Report

Before you consider filing a false or misleading report to a mystery shopping provider, consider what may happen as a result of your report. Will an employee get fired based on one bad mystery shopping report? Most likely, that will not happen unless that employee had other marks against him. If anything, the employee may get written up, have to undergo more on-the-job training or development and more. The result is that the employee may actually grow and develop. This is one of the points of mystery shopping reports. In other cases, a company may make decisions about where to allocate money for store improvement projects, staff development and more based in part of your feedback. By reporting everything in a glowing and positive way, you are not providing the store’s owners or management with realistic information that is needed to improve the customer experience.

Should You Do It?

The fact is that if you are experiencing certain things by walking through a store chances are that other customers are, too. It may seem like a safe bet to err on the side of positivity and to keep all negative observations to yourself. However, in the end, you are hurting the employees and the store itself. Other customers may be turned off from visiting the store again if these issues are not corrected, and your report can help upper management to become aware of the issues.

When mystery shoppers blur the truth, the short term and long term effects can be significant for all parties involved. By providing accurate and truthful information on your mystery shopping report, you are simply stating observations. These are not usually opinions, but rather they are factual observations that any other person visiting the store may experience. If you had a bad experience, the store owners want to know about it. Because of this, you need to be truthful and honest when completing a mystery shopping report.