Mystery Shop or Secret Shopper programs certainly serve a valuable purpose in measuring customer experiences. Surprisingly, many companies and their operators view these results only in terms of the customer experience. In truth, however, these shopper reports are a gold mine of loss prevention information. Better yet, we don’t even need to reword, redress or rework the questions to gain insight - we just need to read between the lines a bit.
The point here is that while some companies design two programs of shops - a customer service version and a loss prevention integrity version it really is not required. Like I said, you just need to read between the lines a little. That is we focus on the questions whose answers don’t just tell us one thing, but tells us a couple of things. Here are the 5 things that you may not be paying attention to, but are directly related to a store’s loss prevention success.
1. Nobody is Home: An effective shopper always comments on the local of employees upon her entry to the store. From a service perspective, low scores on this questions or comments such as “the employees were all in the stock room” tend to drive operators to sanities edge. But this isn’t just about customer service. If “no one” is on the floor, the first question is “what are we all doing in the back?” and the second is “how our we deterring shoplifting if we aren’t on the selling floor?” Visibility is the foundation to shoplifting reductions. As a key LP indicator compare these scores and comments to the overall losses in the locations - chances are you’ll see some correlations.
2. Invisible Customers: The follow up to an empty selling floor is whether the shopper was greeted. It’s kind of like “you’re listening, but you’re not hearing me.” Low points or comments such as “the associate was on the phone, updating her Facebook status, or having a little group pity party are a big red flag. Since good customer engagement is the key to shoplifting deterrence, this issue tells you that you aren’t getting a lot of deterrence.
3. Kick Those Tires - The Built In Integrity Review: Your mystery shopper is going to make a purchase, so why conduct an additional integrity shop? Use the record of the purchase and later return to evaluate how the transaction was processed
4. Chaos Is Our Business: A chaotic, messy location is an excellent way to ensure losses and errors. The “state” of the location tells loss prevention professionals whether there is a high probability of error…and the likelihood that anyone will notice missing or stolen items.
5. Let’s Make a Deal: Ultimately the shopper will interact with associates at the selection (hopefully) or check out process. The content of that conversation can tell us what kind of potential “deals” are being offered. Here you can even add some simple, non-entrapment type language to your shop such as “is there any discount for cash?” “Do I get a better price if I purchase two of these?”
Mystery shops do not have to be an either/or event. In fact, most of the questions on these shops from service to safety relate to our loss prevention efforts. All we need to do is look beyond the obvious intent of our questions and listen to what these answers are.