By Daniel Price, Customer Impact Project Manager

One of the biggest personal benefits to mystery shopping, aside from the extra spending money or a nice meal, is the awareness and perspective it instills in shoppers about quality customer service. Once you complete a handful of mystery shops, your entire shopping experience begins to change. Even when you go out and are not performing a secret shop evaluation, you start to recognize all of the little things that go into providing quality customer service at retail and restaurant establishments. Now that I work here, I almost become obsessed at times with making mental checks and evaluations at random places to see just how well an employee is doing at their job.

I mention this because as the month of October ends, the Holiday Season will officially be upon us. Yes, that means stressful nights shopping for that one family member who only wears a certain brand of shirt, or finding the perfect piece of jewelry for a significant other. More time out shopping and on the go means more time eating in restaurants, so customer traffic increases across the board. This obviously causes a bit of a regression in overall service among establishments. It’s natural. More customers in stores, more purchases, more lines, more potential problems. The business and stress of frantic shoppers and never-ending lines can really take a toll on employees at stores and restaurants. It’s hard to watch an employee be shouted at or berated, even if they aren’t doing a fantastic job. The holiday season is exactly when your mystery shopping experience tells you to take a step back, understand the scope of the situation, and maybe give a little slack to employees.

Working for a mystery shopping company and seeing what goes into the shops has taught me to really respect and appreciate the service I am getting, and this respect is greatly increased during the holiday shopping madness. Sometimes it’s too easy to forget that the folks at these establishments are there to help us as much as possible. They don’t deserve the vitriol and disrespect that comes from our own personal stresses during the holiday season. So this year, when you are standing in line to buy something that’s too expensive, while you are being called by family wondering why you are late for dinner, all while you still haven’t made travel plans for the following week, take a deep breath and appreciate the work these employees are doing to help us at least complete a few of the tasks that are on that endless to-do list over the Holidays. “Please” and “thank you” go a long way for those employees.