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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Using a "Secret Shopper"

Is it a good idea for you?

I had an interesting experience recently, in which I got to play the role of a "secret shopper". My wife's friend is the manager of a store (I won't say what store or what type of store in the interest of anonymity), and she asked us if we would go to the store and evaluate the employees working that particular shift.

She gave us a checklist that was several pages long, which consisted of all of the things that employees are expected to do regarding customers - greeting us at the door, wearing name tags, proper assistance, and things of that nature. Naturally I thought the experience would make for a good article.

As a business owner, particularly if you are in some form of retail business, you may not always be around. Your employees might be at the top of their game when you're there, but how can you be sure that this continues when you're not?

Getting someone to participate as a secret shopper could give you the insight you need for evaluating employee performance. There are programs out there that will connect businesses with secret shoppers, or you can just get someone you know to do it if they are willing.

Breach of Trust?

One downside to this approach is the possibility of losing the respect of your employees. If you do engage in a secret shopper situation, it is probably best that the employees never find out about it. They will not appreciate being spied on, and no longer trust you. If your employees can't trust you and/or respect you, they're not going to be happy working for you, and will quite possibly begin looking for another job.

You're Running a Business

Still, you're running a business. While the employees who know they are doing a good job would be peeved at the idea of a secret shopper, the ones who know they've been slacking may take the results as a needed wake-up call. The secret shopper project should be kept secret, but let the problem-employees know that you know what is going on. The amount of subtlety you apply is up to you.

If you do use a secret shopper and all of your employees pass the test with flying colors, reward them. Even if they don't know why you're rewarding them, you can show them that you appreciate the work they've been doing, and they will surely respect that.

About the author:
Chris is a content coordinator and staff writer for SmallBusinessNewz and the iEntry Network. Subscribe to SmallBusinessNewz RSS Feeds.

Article source : Using a "Secret Shopper"

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