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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?

Tips For Scheduling Shops November 25, 2013

Posted by Ann Michaels & Associates in Uncategorized.
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Written by: Kristin Garvey, Independent Account Manager for Ann Michaels & Associates

How many shops should you schedule for yourself?  The answer will depend on your time management skills, your travel time, and of course, your availability.  One thing that many shoppers forget about when scheduling shops is the reporting.  When they get home from performing four shops at the mall – isn’t it GREAT when you can find four shops all in the same mall – they realize that they also need to write four reports by the following day.  Oops.

Shoppers need to remember to allow themselves enough time not only to perform the shop but also to write the reports.  When I say allowing enough time, I mean enough time to write a quality report.  Not just spitting it out to get it done.  Some reports only take a few minutes.  Some can take a half an hour or more depending on the narrative required.  It’s a good idea to allot for more time than you actually need so you don’t wind up in a hectic rush to get the report in on time.

Speaking of timing, don’t you hate it when Sassie times out on you when you are in the middle of the report?  An easy way to avoid the time out race is to write your report in a Word document, or the like.  That way, you can take as much time as you need to write the essay portions of your report.  You can read and re-read  to make sure that all of the information is there.  You can also easily run a spell check using Word too.

So, when you are choosing which shops to accept each month, make sure you not only allow for travel time and your general availability.  Make sure you allow yourself enough time to submit each report by the due date and time so you are not frantically throwing together nuggets of information at 9:59 am when your report is due by 10:00 am.  Doing so will make things easier on you and make your Mystery Shopping experience more enjoyable.

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