There is no doubt that employees work harder when the boss is around. Employees may whisper to one another to be on their best behavior, showing the exemplary performance that they want you to believe happens every second they are at work. One of the ways that companies combat this is to use a mystery shopper program, so that compliance monitoring can be viewed while store staff members do not know that they are being audited for their performance.
Clearly, this is a big benefit to the mystery shopper program because mystery shoppers can see things through the lens of the customer much more easily. It does not give store employees the chance to set up the store to a standard that is above the norm. However, you may want to see store conditions with your own eyes without your staff knowing. How can you achieve this? Play the part of the mystery shopper yourself.
Dress the part.
An unannounced store audit gives you the opportunity to walk into the store just as a customer would, giving you insight into the true day-to-day standards. The word may get out rather quickly that corporate level staff is in the store, but there will be very little time to fix any problems. For many operations executives, being able to see the store conditions is more valuable than the secrecy of the mystery shopper. But you can have the best of both worlds.
Chances are most employees in your company don’t know what the VP of Operations looks like (unless you’re really good at employee relations). If you dress like your customers and do an unannounced store audit, your employees probably won’t recognize you.
Customers don’t walk around with clipboards.
A question that applies to either unannounced store audits or mystery shoppers is whether to use paper checklists or a store audit software application. While paper checklists may cost less upfront, there is a big value to using store audit software on a smartphone. For example, would a secret shopper blend in better walking around with a clipboard or a smartphone? A store audit software would allow you to gather data in a much more secretive manner.
Timing is key.
Store audit software provides more value than just secrecy. The team members conducting the audit never have to print out new paper lists and can quickly get into the store to begin the checks. Those extra minutes can make a big difference in the accuracy of the audit because it allows the auditor or mystery shopper to have more time to focus on the tasks ahead. We all want to believe that company standards are being met in each store. However, it is much better to be proactive by alerting company leaders of issues in your stores right away, rather than be reactive and constantly trying to catch up.
Whether you choose mystery shoppers or unannounced store audits, a software solution will help you achieve secrecy and allow you to utilize the valuable data from these audits more quickly.
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