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To Reveal or Not Reveal…That is the Question November 29, 2013

Posted by Ann Michaels & Associates in Uncategorized.
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Written by: Jennifer O’Malley, Independent Account Manager for Ann Michaels & Associates

I cut my teeth on what I would call the regular mystery shops. I went into a lot of businesses, evaluated their products, services, employees anonymously and then went home to fill out a report online. It wasn’t until I was a little more secure in my secret shopper saddle that I dove into the world of reveal shops. And of course, to be clear, I’m only speaking about shops where you are supposed to reveal that you are mystery shopping. You’re not very mysterious after a reveal.

The first thing I didn’t even consider was the fact that I would have to be home or have a representative around to accept the envelope full of goodies when they arrived. It took a little planning as well as some creative thinking, but I managed to get over that hurdle three times. And of course, there was always the monstrous demonstration of self-control in not opening a package ahead of schedule.

So yes, I have completed three reveal shops. It wasn’t quite as liberating as I expected it to be and I had mixed results. For one project I visited two separate locations and followed the prescribed routine. I unfortunately had to reveal to both managers that I was the mystery shopper, that they had missed whatever mark it was that was being measured and that I was sending the envelope back to the corporate office unopened. As I recall one manager was disappointed and the other was flat out mad at me, complete with screaming and yelling. I did what I had to do and left as soon as possible.

However, the third one was indeed the charm. I was allowed to bring a guest on my third revealed shop and the whole thing based on an employee asking me one question. I was nervous going into the situation and part of me was hoping this would not be another screaming match. I was rooting for the employee in my head the day before I even went on the assignment.

My guest and I went on the shop, the big question was near the very beginning of our interaction and when the employee hit the mark I remember how hard it was to just go on as if nothing spectacular had just happened. But I did. We continued acting in the manner of regular patrons and only revealed ourselves per the instructions.

Having to reveal when an employee hits all their marks is really a lot of fun. It is like winning the lottery even though you don’t get a prize. I remember asking for the manager, stating who I was and why I was ultimately at their place of business. The manager was allowed to open the envelope and there were goodies in there not only for the manager but the employee that was following the workplace guidelines. I really enjoyed being able to be there on the spot and in a way say, “Yes, you did it! You did what they’ve trained you to do and here’s your pat on the back! Hooray for you!”

So, to this day, I’ve only completed three. I’m still a little divided on whether to reveal or not reveal. I didn’t like being the bearer of bad news, but then again that quick feedback has to be invaluable to make improvements and adjustments. I of course liked being the happy messenger, as I imagine most people would, but it easily could have gone the other way. I’d be curious to know how other shoppers feel about revealed shops. Do you like them, fear them, love them?

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