We always like hearing about our client success stories. It just gives us a warm feeling all over, and lets us know we’re doing a good job with our mystery/secret shopping program. (But we especially like the warm feeling.)
We have a gas station client that, when we brought them on, said one of their hot button issues was how much time they were spending ensuring the mystery shoppers were doing their job. The shopper’s agenda included making sure the store was stocked, the bathrooms were clean, and to purchase a pack of cigarettes to see if they were carded.
To be a good subject relative to checking age compliance, the mystery shoppers needed to be between the ages of 21 and 27. This was critically important because the counter staff were supposed to ask for ID, so as not to risk non-compliance with Federal government regulations. Companies know it is much better to catch themselves and take corrective action, than to have the government catch and fine them, or worse, risk losing a business license.
The problem was, the shoppers were all reporting that they were never asked for ID when they tried to purchase cigarettes. To figure out what the problem was, this client went back and reviewed their surveillance videos only to learn that the shoppers were actually 47 years old, not 27.
We wanted to be able to save them time and money, so we put a safeguard in place where potential shoppers had to upload their driver’s license so we could confirm their birthdate. But, we also put an additional safeguard in place, so the shopper had to manually type their age into the system when they first registered. Then, when the form was filled in with the driver’s license, the system automatically populated with the birthday they entered and stored this information. This way, the shoppers couldn’t change their age in order to trick the system into giving them a shop.
Shoppers were also required to upload proof of purchases (receipts) and photographs of the restroom. This way, we could know the shopper was doing exactly what they were supposed to, and that they were doing it at the right time. With the ability to compare photographs on a month-to-month basis, we had protection against the reuse of the same snapshot. The system itself helped enforce validation far more efficiently than the previous processes allowed.
Now, the client is no longer having issues with what was between 30 and 40 percent of their stores. They’re not only getting better results in their stores, but the process of validating the shopper’s efforts is far more efficient. With the proof built into the process, our client has greater peace of mind, more time to spend on other issues, and a great ROI.
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