Mystery Shopping: Helping Retailers Stand In Their Truth

Does this scenario sound familiar to you?


Lisa purchases a car and at the end of the buying experience the salesperson states: “You are going to get a survey on how I performed.  If you don’t rate me a 10 out of 10, I will not get my bonus.  Please rate me a 10” … or something similar. Without apology or hesitation this request is being spoken daily, as though the phrase is a component of the selling process. I know you’re shaking your head in the affirmative because it has happened to you.

Retailers are now telling consumers how to rate them at the end of their visit. This obviously skews the rating and creates an ineffective measure of how well service is being delivered. Mystery shopping, with a Human eXperience (HX) focus, can help solve for that by providing an overview of how the actual experience is, while identifying if staff is telling customers how to rate them. If team members in leadership roles are driving this behavior in your organization, it must cease immediately to deliver unbiased data. The mystery shopping question that must be answered is: Can you handle the truth?

The market research industry is fully aware of the huge differences between consumers’ reported behavior and the reality of how they did behave. Same logic applies when consumers report their retail buying experiences. Within the automobile industry, surveys are flawed due to the pervasive behavior described in the scenario above. Pressure to receive a perfect score is so intense at auto dealerships that a score of 8 out of 10 might as well be zero.

We are left with very extreme camps

  1. Leaders who encourage bad behavior, report their great survey scores and look the other way.
  2. Business decision makers who believe all surveys should die a quick death.
  3. Researchers and business leadership who know that listening to the voice of the customer, through unbiased surveys, yields great value to companies, across all areas of customer engagement.

Handling the Truth

Do you want to understand your customers’ concerns? Are you truly ready to take all concerns seriously? Once equipped with truthful data, will you commit to creating better buying experiences? Building the right survey tool and structuring the questions correctly is a key factor. It is equally important that the length of the survey and the difficulty of the questions align with the audience being surveyed. Lastly, the behavior at the sales level (pressure, follow up guilt tactics, even changing scores) can be exposed with the correct mystery shopping program. The big benefit will be obtaining true customer feedback. In most cases, identifying and implementing a few changes will yield big results. Learn more about uncovering the actions of your operations teams and seeing at the level of your customers. 

Lisa van Kesteren
SeeLevel HX
Driving a Human Experience That Exceeds All Others