|by Harry Nobles, April 1999
An anonymous service evaluation, commonly called “shopping," is
one more way to assess how well your staff is serving your guests.
When properly used, a mystery shopper can help you identify weaknesses
and flaws in service delivery that never happen when you are watching.
Shoppers can also uncover theft, an unfortunate but real problem that occurs
in all business environments. On the positive side, a shopper
can also identify those employees who provide consistently superior service
to your guests. I always advise my clients to use this knowledge
to recognize and reward employees. Your employees will appreciate
and respond to positive feedback.
I advise clients that shopping a property too frequently can have a
counter-productive effect; employees can develop a defensive attitude when
they perceive they are being scrutinized excessively. In my opinion,
there is already sufficient stress inherent in the daily workload of your
guest contact employees. You can conduct regular anonymous
evaluations without overdoing it. I suggest no more than quarterly
shopping, and I suggest that the property be shopped in both peak and off-peak
Mystery shopping is just one more tool to help management assess
employee performance, assure consistent adherence to standards, and
maximize guest satisfaction.