Working on the other side and being the consultant that presents the data mystery shoppers gather

I've always wondered: what would it take to become the person who analyzes the results of what mystery shoppers have come back with.

As much as I've enjoyed being a mystery shopper, I want to be in a position where I can impact the company in a good way and get the company to implement the changes suggested to permanently improve the state of the business.

I've always liked to be in a consultant role, and I would love to be the person that makes the recommendations!

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It would be interesting to see what is done with the data that is compiled and presented to the clients. But I also think sometimes things are just ignored or deemed insignificant. There is a fast food place where I have pointed out a particular problem with their menu board on at least 10 different occasions within the past year. They even put up new menu board panels (most locations of this brand now have newer ones). However the same issue is still observed at this one particular location even after the new menu boards were put up.

So while maybe they care at the corporate level, the message doesn't make it to the store level or if it's a franchise, they don't care enough to fix it.

I'm thinking of another shop where I visited and the hot water did not work in the restroom and I reported on the shop several times and months later, it still has not been addressed.

I'm not saying all of the things that we report go ignored, but what I am saying is... sometimes as much as we care or they claim to care, the action isn't followed up on and the problem(s) persist.
And what happens if the information we provide becomes something else? What is there to enforce, implement, or change if our information was altered or omitted from a report? I am not saying that this absolutely ever happens. Based upon forum posts, I am wondering it ever happens.

The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off. - Joe Klaas, Twelve Steps to Happiness

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I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born. - Ronald Reagan
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Some shoppers have stated that their reports have been changed after submission. I also wonder how many reports the end client even looks at. Like, do they have a room full of people reading the thousands of results and comments that are submitted nationally? I doubt it. Its probably all stuff and nonsense anyway.

sestrahelena
@sestrahelena wrote:

Some shoppers have stated that their reports have been changed after submission. I also wonder how many reports the end client even looks at. Like, do they have a room full of people reading the thousands of results and comments that are submitted nationally? I doubt it. Its probably all stuff and nonsense anyway.

I have personally seen the answers to my questions in surveys changed. Especially the narratives I've seen 200 word paragraphs (that they insist they need) that I sent in totally erased and replaced with one sentence that I never said.

And I'm pretty sure that at least some shops are designed so that we don't know why or for whom we are shopping.
Way back in the day, I worked as a server at a major chain. We were mystery shopped. We did see the results of the reports, and they were used as coaching, meeting franchise standards and all that. Some of the results were almost comical, but I followed the directions. For example, we were trained to introduce ourselves every time a table was seated. Well and good, but we had a lot of regulars, and some of them would call me out because they said they clearly knew my name by then. However, as soon as I let that little introduction slip, here would come a mystery shop saying that I did not introduce myself. After all that though, with time, I have seen evidence here and there that corporate was indeed listening to the shoppers on the various.
I can't speak for every client but I know that not every client has the data 'analyzed' for them. They look at each survey (after editing of course) and do with it as they please.
Some MSC'S might be contacted to actually make recommendations but not all. (Not saying they don't offer that service, but clients may not want it)
Have completed several gas stations I classify as "disgusting". Many are no longer the brand name shopped/audited. Thinking the brand gave the stations a choice -- shape up or no longer represent XXXX. Some even have shoppers go back to verify the branding has changed. It is amazing what some stations attempt, like using black spray paint over the 2 numbers in the center of the big orange logo that remains. I have seen those signs removed after being reported.

One thing I disliked about Maritz was a gas shop which asked "describe what you observed prior to revealing yourself." That experience might be good, bad, or a combination of both. Anytime I noted something even semi-negative, Martiz would ask me to change my response to 2-3 things "I liked". In this sense, the client was not getting objective feedback and may be under a completely different impression than reality.

While I have no proof, it seems some clients have a scoring tolerance. So if everything in the shop scored well except the sign (like hbbigdaddy mentions), that sign may sit unfixed until a score pushes the location over the intolerance threshold.
I worked for a large medical center as a data analyst. One day in a staff meeting my manager reported that they had been using an outside company to mystery shop the clinic people who took the phone calls. I had actually seen that job advertised at one of the msc I am signed up with and looked at the questionnaire out of curiosity but as an employee of the client never did one of those shops. But my reaction to the questionnaire was that my employer was not going to get any good information out of the results. In fact my manager was reporting that we had had a mystery shop contract and it was cancelled for being worth little to them. I told my boss that next time they decided to do one of those they should ask me what questions should be asked on the form.
But also I think you get what you pay for and some of these shops are too barebones to help. Others are too complex and wordy. Others are franchises that may or may not have wanted to participate at all. And all sorts of other situations.
I do remember tho shopping at a high end restaurant with salad bar plates that were so cold my fingers stuck to them. It had been like that for a while but after I did that shop the next time I went the problem was fixed.
I imagine like anything else, some companies are conscientious about following up and making changes and others may not. I was pleased to see that one of the retailers I had shopped two months ago had implemented at least one of the changes I recommended when I re-shopped them recently. I have no way of knowing how many sources of input had to be made before they made the change but it was nice to see the improvement was made.
I used to do shops for Save-a-Lot supermarkets (they were bought and as far as I know, they are no longer shopped). It began as a mystery shop and then turned into a revealed audit. None of the stores were in upper-tier shopping centers. I had several managers thank me on subsequent visits for helping them get potholes fixed, light bulbs replaced, etc. It usually took two or more months for me to report and photograph the issues. Apparently, the system chose not to believe the managers until I repeatedly reported the problems.

Shopping Southeast Pennsylvania, Delaware above the canal, and southwestern NJ since 2008
MSC delivery of results to clients varies. Many clients only get raw reports and limited analysis delivered to them. The best I have ever seen was with an MSC which was contracted by a concession management company which in turn oversaw numerous concession operations in multiple locations. The project manager would meet face-to-face with the concession manager at each venue along with the managers of those concessions. Each report would be reviewed - these were narrative heavy reports - and the entire group would discuss the shopper's encounter with the concession. I understand that those meetings lasted many days. Clearly, such was not typical of the industry.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/22/2022 07:57PM by Rousseau.
I suspect the locations that make changes based on negative feedback on their mystery shops get some kind of incentive for good reports. Back when I edited shops for several restaurant chains I was told that the local manager's bonuses were partly based on their shop reports so always err in the clients favor.

On the other hand, one c-store chain I shop regularly has so many absolutely filthy, unsanitary locations that never seem to improve that i suspect there is no incentive (and probably little repercussion) for their underpaid and overworked managers to go the extra mile.
@Ideagirl wrote:

On the other hand, one c-store chain I shop regularly has so many absolutely filthy, unsanitary locations that never seem to improve [...]
For some time, I shopped a particular retail location and was required, among things, to provide a narrative on the cleanliness of the parking lot. Month after month, I would report on the same broken watch, degrading banana peel, pile of used syringes, and a used polka-dotted condom. Month after month. Sometimes twice per month. For over two years.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/25/2022 11:09AM by Rousseau.
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