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Now of course, we at BARE International -and everyone else who doesn’t work here – do not condone lying as a reliable (no pun intended) or virtuous way of living; indeed, you can get into very serious trouble, should you knowingly tell untruths (you can go to jail for lying in a court of law, for example). So lying is not okay… typically, but we’re all so good at it! Moreover, we begin doing it very early on, some researchers say as early as 6 months old.
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The title itself might be somewhat misleading, if not an outright porky pie. But much in the same way this piece will illustrate, it is in no way harmful, and can be in fact beneficial to both parties (the writer and the reader). The kind of slight-of-hand I’m talking about is utilized by Mystery Shopping, an intriguing, interesting and ultimately fib-fueled world, in which lying helps everybody concerned.
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As children we are all taught – and rightly so – that lying is unequivocally a ‘Bad Thing’, discouraged at all levels by any parent/teacher worth their salt. But here’s the kicker: sometimes it can actually be used for good, and I’m not talking about the little white lies that occur from day to day (”that was delicious!”), nor the big-time (”the moon landing was faked”) kind of lie, but rather a type of lying that can help improve the situations for all involved.
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Don’t believe me? Then I’d say fair enough, considering the above paragraph’s content (and that it’s healthy to have a good dose of cynicism when it comes to reading things on the internet).
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But please, allow me to convince you…
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1 – NO ONE GETS HURT
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To the uninitiated, Mystery Shopping might seem like some clandestine, covert black market; a situation where unsuspecting staff are duped by officious, clip board-wielding telltales clad in beige trenchcoats while wearing sunglasses. shutterstock_369099806-copy2That’s only partly true (they don’t really wield a clipboard, though the “I Spy” attire is optional); certainly, the employees of our clients are never mislead or tricked into something untoward, and aren’t in any danger of immediate negative repercussions. The closest it can come to, for example, is a project in which our Evaluators (a fancy word for Mystery Shopper) will appear overtly suspicious during a shop, asking odd questions and generally trying to set off alarm bells in the employee they’re auditing; such signaling might be picked up and acted upon, though even if it is missed, that’s important and useful data too.
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But the key thing to remember is that it’s a completely safe situation – there’s never been an instance of someone losing their job due to a Mystery Shop, and there never will be. Our Evaluators pose as regular shoppers to aid the actual regular shoppers, and help sharpen the staff of whichever business they have chosen to evaluate.
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2 – ALL-INCLUSIVE IMPROVEMENT
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Of course, humans aren’t the only animals that lie: a few years ago Koko the Gorilla (celebrated for her 1,000+ sign language vocabulary) asked for a kitten to have as a pet, such is her affinity toward felines. Like many, Koko likes to take the credit for her good behavior and blames the bad on someone else. After ripping out a sink from the wall of her habitat, her humans asked what happened.
Koko signed, “The cat did it.”
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Setting aside any ethical concerns, the truth is that when you do a spot of Mystery Shopping, therefore inherently not telling the whole truth, it is good for everybody: good for us (the company on whose behalf you’re Mystery Shopping ); good for the market (as it keeps the ecosystem strong); good for the store (provides useful analytics with which they can improve themselves and their staff); good for the customer (better quality staff & store means better quality shopping & service); and of course, good for you (you stand to make that bit extra at the end of an otherwise predictable month)!
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Customer Experience Research is the name of the game – there’s a formula we use that is as follows: ECX = OE + EC + CS, which stands for Excellent Customer Experience = Operational Excellence + Employee Commitment + Customer Satisfaction. Instead of seeing lies in a single category of selfish and wrongheaded behavior, it’s possible to think critically of lying and to consider instances where it can be productive and healthy. As a first step, you can allow yourself to not feel guilty about what you’re talking about during your Mystery Shop: in fact, a great many of our Evaluators thoroughly enjoy the role-playing aspect of the visits, performing the scenarios confidently and coming up with added details to embellish their backstories. We all like to pretend to be someone else, especially if we’re permitted – and paid!
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Speaking of which…
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3 – YOU GET PAID FOR SERVICES RENDERED
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Either in the form of a shop fee or as a reimbursement, you’ll be able to rack up considerable extra cash come the end of the month. That means you’re able to boost your income by doing a test drive for one of our automotive projects, while also picking up a pair of new shoes effectively gratis (as amount you paid can be remunerated). Fancy a stay in a hotel, on the house? Be my guest. There’s nothing quite like waltzing through the door and giving a false name at the reception; and who doesn’t like knowing they’ve got away with even the simplest bluff (most people are better at it that they’d probably like to think: in a 10 minute conversation with a stranger, we humans will tell an average of 3 lies, though the majority rarely even realize they’re doing it). In addition to the well-known bassline of Mystery Visits, there are several ways in which to make it work best suited your own routine; if you don’t feel like leaving the house there’s Mystery Calling & E-Mailing, used for checking customer service, response time and ease of use.
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Okay, so the previous sentence might sound like it came off the back of one of our recruitment flyers (it didn’t), but the point I’m making is that you needn’t be Lance Armstrong to be one of our Mystery Evaluators. It’s a simple job, and can easily be done well. What’s more, you’ll never have to pay for the privilege of Mystery Shopping, and never should.
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BONUS 4th REASON! – THE MORE THE MERRIER
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In short: we’ll pay you a bonus for every friend you recommend, and the cherry on top is that it won’t negatively affect you in any way at all – many of our projects have a mandatory “cool down” period between shops, so even if you wanted to perform visits week-in-week-out, there’s no guarantee you’d be able to. Introducing someone you know to us is the easiest way in which to keep a healthy cycle time ticking over, meaning that even when you’re unable to do a shop, your friend will be.
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So, to conclude: there are times when not telling the truth is a good thing. Lying to help another person or their business is and should be perceived as good, while lying which has no effect – or actually harms others – is of course wrong. The thing to remember is that, done properly, Mystery Shopping reveals a bevy of benefits, by enticing businesses to up their game (perhaps if a rival seems to be pulling ahead), or even to practice new policies (if their previous form isn’t up to scratch), and that is a benefit to us all as customers. If the boss is evaluating an employee, they’re bound to be on their best behavior: a Mystery Shopper ensures a realistic evaluation based on how employees interact with real customers and not just their supervisors.
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Apologies for such a clickbait-y title, though I suppose you could even consider it as something of a white lie: yes, I’ve slightly exploited your curiosity, but now both of us have benefited – with you learning a little bit about something you (presumably) didn’t really know much about before, and me getting to spread the word. You can’t say we don’t practice what we preach. I mean, would I lie to you?


Author: Richard

Richard is a real community builder, involved in various activities within the office, helps charities and has a degree in filmmaking and screenwriting. He’s a ”Creative”, interested in telling stories, making connections and helping generate ideas. An avid reader, he is passionate about gaming, food (don’t feed him after midnight) and history. He has plans for the future, and you -the one reading this sentence- are part of them.


Interested in becoming an Evaluator with BARE International?

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Want to be a guest blogger for BARE’s Mystery Evaluator’s Community?

Apply to: akocsis@bareinternational.com