Back when I was in high school, my mom got a job as a mystery shopper. A Mystery Shopper is trained by a company to be an ‘incognito shopper’ at their locations in order to ensure standards are being met. My mom traveled all over Oregon and Washington for a grocery chain until her cover was blown and she lost her ability to be anonymous.
That was a loooong time ago, but as I’ve thought about this job I realize how important and effective it is: It’s a gift for businesses to see themselves from the outside and gain an authentic understanding of who they really are…to get a quick test of their integrity. It’s valuable to see how things really are when there’s no time to increase attention to customer service. No time to give the floors an extra shine or clean up the dust bunnies before the District Manager visit. You are who you are when the Mystery Shopper walks in and this honesty gives you the real picture.
I’ve worked with close to 100 small businesses over the past few years and have seen first-hand how outside perspective helps businesses grow in new and healthy ways.
Here are 3 benefits of having your own ‘Mystery Shopper’ experience:
1. Gain outside perspective on your business.
I have to shave my head with clippers at least two times a week and I try to do it by myself most of the time. How hard can it be, right? No matter how many times I go over my head with the clippers I, without a doubt, miss places on the back of my head and my wife has to help me out.
Running a business can be like me shaving my head…you don’t have the ability to see what you’re missing without different perspective. Looking at your business from the outside can be a game changer…otherwise, you may not have any idea what you’re missing.
2. Clarify your message.
I was recently meeting with a client who said to me, “I never would have described my business like that!” The insight gained from my interviews with their past customers is helping them create a relevant (and true) message for their future customers. Having an outsider help you with messaging will free your messaging from the box it’s been in. It can also help you think about your message in terms of how your clients will understand it…not just in ways that make sense internally.
3. Learn the true health of your team.
When my mom used to talk to the butcher in the deli, they would have no idea who she was. This provided the store’s manager (and corporate) the opportunity to get authentic feedback on their employees (and the success of their training).
Honest feedback is often hard for managers and leaders to come by. Many leaders don’t want to hear it. Other leaders are too busy to get feedback. And employees are often fearful of sharing their true opinions because they want to keep their jobs! Our process includes anonymous surveys which allow team members to give honest feedback. Our process help leaders interpret the feedback and turn it into action.
(Let’s be honest though, if you’re the type of leader who’s not inclined to face hard truths, this probably isn’t good news to you! But if you’re the type of leader who wants to grow and learn no matter the pain of the process, then you’ll love this!)
We love helping business owners, companies, and non-profits discover new ways to grow. We care about more than your bottom line; we care about you and the people on your team and we want to see you all succeed. We don’t simply give you feedback and leave you on your own to figure it out. We understand the difficulties and nuances of leadership and help you navigate your complex growth challenges.
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