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Shhhhh!

Have you ever gotten a customer complaint that just didn’t make sense? “Oh, John?” you think. “But I’ve never seen him so much as frown at a patron, much less throw a spoon at one!” Well, right. Your workers put their best foot forward when you set foot in their presence. When their job is so visibly at stake, they’re going to give that extra effort to look good for you. What a bonus for your customers at that time…they’ll never have better customer service than when the owner is in the house!

Short of installing hidden cameras and creating a Big Brother police state, it can be tough to know how your employees act when you’re not around. There will be employees that really are on their best behavior all the time — lucky you! — and there will be problem employees. That’s where mystery shoppers come in, of course.

But just as your employees straighten their ties, smile a little brighter and compete harder than usual for Employee of the Month when you make your presence known at your place of business, so it goes when you say those two little words: mystery shopper. When you tell them they may encounter a mystery shopper anytime in the next X number of days, you can rest assured they’ll be on their best behavior for every shift during that period.

It’s fantastic for the mystery shopper — they’ll have the best, most painless experience to report on! And you’ll hand out gold stars all around to your employees for impressing that one person. But your customers will lose out in the end if you do, in fact, have trouble spots and customer service issues that your employees were covering up. So don’t tell them.

Keep your employees on their toes!

Yes, you should prepare your employees for the eventuality of being mystery shopped. But not in the way you think: You should do it by training them to be the best employees they can be at all times — because that’s what you expect, and how they should be acting all the time.