When A Good Mystery Shop Goes Bad

The day started off so well.  I got up on time, had my coffee, showered, got dressed, and started my mystery shopper phone calls.  One was to be recorded for one of the two apartment shop contracts I had to complete, so I started off with that one.

I dial; the phone rings.  And rings.  And rings.  And then gets picked up by a recorded answering service.   I decide to try again, to the same result.  Okay, let’s try the 2nd call, 2nd shop.  This one isn’t recorded so I’ll surely have better luck.  I dial; the phone rings.  And rings.  And rings.  And then rings some more.  It’s picked up and not even answered, but set back down in the cradle, as if the person on the other end was just shutting the phone – and me – up.

Hmmmm.  Suddenly that coffee is working against me and Mr. Pleasant on the phone is already punching the numbers with force as we start over with the first call.  Fortunately, we get our target right away.

Probably because I was a trainer and an experienced manager of my own leasing staff in the day, I expect sales calls to be perfect.  There is of course the typical “how’d you hear about us”, and “what size/when/pets/how many” qualifying questions that have to be asked (and if those things are not being asked in the sales portion, you should notate them!) but it’s a real skill that a good leasing agent will master, and master it well.  The mystery shop phone call should flow like general conversation with a good friend, not someone reading off a menu at a restaurant.

This particular call, however, well let’s just say that their menu wasn’t typed out with clear words and it might have been the first time the leasing agent had ever answered the phone.  But I digress.  After all, it was only one cup of coffee.

Unfortunately, the onsite portion of that apartment shop did not go well either, but it was more due to things outside the immediate control of the leasing agent.  The potpourri used in the office smelled like someone had spilled a bucket of Pine-Sol into the dish – my friends thought I was dating a car freshener for about a week afterwards.

The rest of the tour was just “sloppy”, with things like runoff from the landscaping littering the sidewalk, trash not picked up from someone’s missed throw at the dumpster, pizza coupons posted by a restaurant just up the road that had blown off doors.

All of these things were annoying even as a mystery shopper, but the agent did a decent job of showing the property, giving me information, and demonstrating the apartment.  Those are the things you are grading as part of your mystery shop contract.

While you are given a chance to answer if the grounds were clean, etc. – keep in mind the minor irritations that can make a shop appear to be unpleasant are things that can be quickly fixed.

Trash can be picked up.  Sidewalks can always be swept.  But bad phone techniques and poor salesmanship are much more difficult to overcome.  So it’s important to make sure that you are emphasizing those aspects in your mystery shop report when filling it out.  It can make a huge difference in rewards, recognition, or redirection if needed.

Tell me about some of your “good shops gone bad”.

-Kenny P