Question Stacking in Mystery Shopping: Are Your Questions Doing Too Much Work?

When coming up with your mystery shopping questions, you will need to be careful not to fall into what is known as question stacking. Question stacking is when a single question actually houses three or more smaller questions within it. The mystery shopper may be hard-pressed to adequately answer the overall question if they have two yeses and a no. What should the answer be? Yes or no?

An example of question stacking would be a question like: are all refund slips present and signed by the manager? That is actually two different questions: are they present, and are they signed. If the receipts were all present, but the manager did not sign some of them, how would you answer the complete question? Conversely, if the manager signed all of the receipts present, but some of them were missing, you would still be unable to answer the above question.

These types of questions are doing too much work. Each question needs only to ask one question, or it will affect the feedback that you receive. You need to choose smart questions that really use the measurements you decided on and exactly what the answers would tell you. If you separated the example question above into two questions, you would be learning more, and the answers would tell you vastly different things. If you learned that the receipts were present, but the manager did not sign all of them, that would be an issue with the manager. The other question would tell you that the process of collecting receipts was somehow flawed because some of the receipts had gone missing. Understanding what kind of information you need to optimize your customer service is the first step, but formatting the questions to dig deep into the matter’s heart is an important second.

No Means What Again?

Another way to clarify the question process is to format your questions so that a “no” is always a negative and a “yes” is always a positive. For example, asking a question like: did you have to wait in line for more than ten minutes? This would be counterintuitive. The ideal answer is no, because that means the mystery shopper made their way to the counter in less than ten minutes. However, when you are dealing with lots of questions and evaluating your brand experience, it can be confusing to remember when no is a good thing or a bad thing. Instead, you could word the question differently: was your wait time less than ten minutes? Then, you would want the answer to be yes, which is a good thing.

You want to ensure that your questions are clear in all ways. The answers need to make sense, and you can’t ask for more than one idea or answer within a single overarching question. If you have multiple ideas, break them down into questions that work smarter, not harder. After all, you want your questions to give you actionable data to improve your operations, not just pat yourself on the back.

At HS Brands Global, we are experts at helping you shape your questions and collect data that truly helps build your brand through an efficient and effective Mystery Shopper experience. For more information, contact our team today.

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