Snapshots (Mystery Shoppers)

Sat, 07/16/2005 - 6:56pm -- haydeegomez
Starbucks Forum: 

Okay, as retail employees at Starbucks know, about once a month a mystery shopper will come into a Starbucks undercover. This "customer" evaluates many parts of the "Starbucks experience", including courtesy/customer service, temperature of drink, speed of service, cleanliness of store.

This "customer" (mystery shopper) then gives descriptions (height and hair color) of the employees observed. The report is then traced to who was working during that shift.

Partners can be written up for performing poorly on a Snapshot. Rumor has it that the store manager gets a bonus for having a perfect Snapshot report.

Of course, the mystery shopper will hardly ever shop the store during a morning rush or during "Frappy hour."

Does anyone think that the Snapshots are unfair?

Submitted by southbux on

It is no rumor that Starbucks managers get bonuses for getting good snapshots. How it actually works I'm not too sure because I don't really care because I never see a lick of the bonus money.

All I know is that getting good snapshots is a requirement for baristas and shifts if they want to keep their jobs and getting good snapshots is an incentive for managers to get more money.

Why can't we all get a bonus if we get a good snapshots since we are "partners?" Don't tell me that tips are our compensation for good customer service because tips are a reflection of kindness not hard work.

In a company where accountability is often shifted to the low man/woman and managers are not just more valued employees but also more valued human beings I see the snapshot as another tool to single out workers who management doesn't want working in their store for whatever reason.

Arbitrary action doesn't need reasoning I would argue. If you want to fire me just do it. Don't talk to me about how many little green stars you got or your bonus.

Submitted by DontFormAUnion on

Almost every company that serves people has a secret shopper. Don't like it, then get a job where you don't interact with people or don't screw up. Why would a manager get the bonus? Could it be that since s/he is in charge of everything at the store (training, scheduling, everything that pertains to the runnings) that s/he should get a bonus for proving that s/he can do that properly. A well trained staff is proof of a good manager.

Submitted by cheapwh0re on

My little brother works at Regal Cinemas and just last week he was talking about how his staff got a bad review and now they don't get free soda. Secret shoppers are nothing new, and definately not isolated to Starbucks.

You [as a barista or supervisor] don't get a bonus when you attain a good snapshot because it's your job to serve every customer in a way that they feel welcomed and enjoy their visit. The manager and assistant manager get bonuses because it's their job to coach you into doing your job efficiently [which is far more difficult than pressing a button on a machine and learning the correct way of calling out a drink]. The snapshot isn't designed to be difficult, if you're doing your job correctly. Why would they give you a bonus for that? I think they do, they just call it your salary.

That's what's wrong with America, today. We celebrate and endorse mediocracy. You think that you should be given a cookie because you're average. Suddenly, less than average doesn't seem so bad. Not because we intentionally lower our standards, but in an effort for acceptance, we also allow in failure.

Tips are not a reflection of kindness, or sympathy. If you serve people shittily they are going to tip shittily. Do you always expect something for free?

A snapshot only singles out the unwanted employees because the ones that appear on the bad snapshots are bad partners. [ for the most part ]. If you get a good snapshot, your description is still recorded. How does that single out only the bad employee? There's nothing Arbitrary about a snapshot.

The kicker of my confusion, though, is this. You say that if I want to fire you then I should just do it. No documented reason, just do it. Then you say you want a union to prevent unjust termination. Is my whim enough to determine your career? Make up your mind, and then try to organize.

Submitted by leslee613 on

I agree with you, particularly with your comments about tips. I feel more and more people feel they are owed a tip regårdless of the service or hospitality they give the customer. you are in a service industry, i am a teacher and believe me if I spoke and treated my students the way some workers have done, I'd be written up imediately. We also have snapshots. The principal or any other administrator, coach etc... can enter my classroom at any time without notifying me and see if i am ståying on task, actively engaging the children in an appropriate lesson and speaking in a manner that reflects respect and kindness. Why should I spend my hard earned money and be treå†ed by a rude, obnoxious worker??? Thank goodness I have not experienced this at Stårbucks, whatever they are doing is working. My local Starbucks are the sweetest people ever, keep up the good work. If you do not feel you can work this wå¥ then don't work for Stårbucks or the service industry. Not everyone is a people person.

Submitted by bat_ball on

Secret shoppers are a combination of snakes and rats.

First of all, they lie. That's right, they flat-out LIE sometimes. If they come in and things are going hunky-dorey, they will make something up in order to not give you the 5-star and/or the 100%. It's that simple. I know this because some idiot shopper wrote on our form once " handed me my drink with a napkin." This is a total lie because where do we keep the napkins? Underneath the condiment bar. Don't know about other stores, but napkins certainly are not kept near the espresso bar station. So unless the idiot secret shopper thought the cardboard sleeve was a napkin, they LIED.

Sniffing out a secret shopper is easy as pie. They'll enter the store and go directly to one of the following places: the condiment bar, the retail area/wall, or the bathrooms. They will never, and I mean, NEVER go directly to the register station and order. They have to sneak around and inspect before they order. Second, they'll ask a mystery question to the register partner. If you don't answer the question properly, *buzzer* you're out. If you have to ask another partner for the answer, you'll lose points, but won't fail that area altogether. Talk with fellow employees about what type of questions the secret shopper may ask. And you had better know everything their is to know about what beverage you are currently promoting and/or what coffee beans you are featuring (i.e. Gazebo/Rift Valley). Third, watch what they do when you call out the drink. They WON'T immediately drink it because they have to go to their car and weigh the drink and check the temperature which, by the way, will be altered if they have the A/C or heat on in their car and/or what time of year it is. If it is wintertime and very cold out, it wouldn't hurt you to make the drink a TAD bit extra hot. They'll walk to their car in the freezing cold outside and that weather will chill the beverage a little. If the drink goes below steaming standards, might as well bend over. Fourth, watch their hands. The secret shopper has a timer in their pocket and watch to see if they put their hands (briefly) in their pocket to stop the stopwatch as they leave. Fifth, the only drinks they'll order are tall sizes. It'll be a tall latte, tall white mocha or tall mocha. It will never be a cappuccino unless they change the rules. Watch out if a customer orders a "tall latte" and not what the average customer would get --"Triple grande 3 splenda 4 pump hazelnut, 1 pump raspberry, extra whip, NONFAT, latte". If they order just a plain ol' tall latte, it may be a shopper. PUT A SLEEVE ON THE DRINK WHILE CALLING IT CORRECTLY.

Whoooooo, that was long winded, but needed to be said. Lastly, make sure you say "Thank You" and not "Thanks." I am 100% serious--you'll lose points for saying "Thanks" instead of "Thank you" or "thank you very much" because if you just say "Thanks," it makes it sound like you're trying to get rid of the customer and be short with them. Stupid, I know, but it's just how it goes.

There are probably 100 other pointers, but these are the basics. Hope I helped a bit.

Submitted by cheapwh0re on

A few things; they usually go straight to the bathrooms... I've only seen once when this was not the case, and that's because the bathrooms were occupied. The secret shopper is told to make one modifier to the drink. Usually the modifier is non-fat milk.

The weather will not affect the beverage temperature unless their is a 3,000 mile walk to their car in subzero temperatures. There's a large range that the temperature can lie within.

You will actually recieve points marked down if you sleeve a drink that's not water based [ coffee or an americano ] or a venti [ all hot venti drinks get a sleeve ] without asking.

The question they ask before ordering has always been relatively simple. How many shots go in a tall latte? How many pumps go into a white mocha? It doesn't get too complex.

Your best bet is to pay attention to the people that seem to be somewhat knowledgable, and still ask you the simple questions. If they are calling them pumps, instead of shots of a syrup then pay special attention.

The main thing is eye contact when you're working with a secret shopper. If you don't look the customer in the eye when you say "thanks" [and yes, thanks is acceptable] then you will be marked down. Another big portion of the secret shopper agenda is how well you are interacting with the other customers. If you dismiss everyone else without a second thought, and focus on just the secret shopper, they take notice.

Remember, these people are just making sure you're doing your job... they aren't out to get you fired. It is definately not hard to follow all of the standards and keep every customer happy.

Submitted by Johnzig on

At my store there has been a recent development that has me quite worried about the safety of my job. The DM gave my boss some hell for the store being a mess (which was the assistant manager's fault), along with having a snap shot below "standards", and has resulted in some new bullshit rules.

1) Shifts must coach Baristas who aren't being "legendary."
2) If a bad snap shot is received then the shift in charge and barista will be written a corrective.
3) Bussing must be even more thorough, including dusting off all wooden fixtures and merchandise display shelves.

My store is not that small and it is extremely busy. We cannot always be "legendary" especially when most of our rushes go all the way to the door. I will not sign any corrective action form for such an unfair abuse of power.

By law after 2 hours we're supposed to have 10 minute breaks yes? Well I've had days where my break wasn't until 4 hours after I began work and they want me to be even more maticulous about the busses? HELL NO! This is where I put my foot down.

"He who fights monsters should look into it that he himself does not become a monster. When you gaze long into the Abyss, the Abyss also gazes into you."- Nietzsche

Submitted by cheapwh0re on

After two hours, or near as two hours as reasonable, every employee should be allowed a 10 minute rest period, by law. Unfortunately, reasonable is the managers discression.

If you think you can form a case out of it [ as in, this happens nearly every shift ] I would definately suggest you do so.

Submitted by Organize on

[quote=DontFormAUnion]Almost every company that serves people has a secret shopper. Don't like it, then get a job where you don't interact with people or don't screw up. Why would a manager get the bonus? Could it be that since s/he is in charge of everything at the store (training, scheduling, everything that pertains to the runnings) that s/he should get a bonus for proving that s/he can do that properly. A well trained staff is proof of a good manager.[/quote]

For Best Results, Forget the Bonus

by Alfie Kohn

"Do this and you'll get that." These six words sum up the most popular way in which American business strives to improve performance in the workplace.

And it is very popular. At least three of four American corporations rely on some sort of incentive program. Piecework pay for factory workers, stock options for top executives, banquets and plaques for Employees of the Month, commissions for salespeople -- the variations go on and on. The average company now resembles a television game show: "Tell our employees about the fabulous prizes we have for them if productivity improves!"

Most of us, accustomed to similar tactics at home and school, take for granted that incentives in the workplace are successful. After all, such incentives are basically rewards, and rewards work, don't they?

The answer, surprisingly, is mostly no. While rewards are effective at producing temporary compliance, they are strikingly ineffective at producing lasting changes in attitudes or behavior. The news gets worse. About two dozen studies from the field of social psychology conclusively show that people who expect to receive a reward do not perform as well as those who expect nothing. This result, which holds for all sorts of rewards, people and tasks, is most dramatic when creativity is involved.

Are rewards as ineffective inside the workplace as they are outside it? Apparently so. Despite decades of widespread reliance on pay-for-performance schemes, I know of no controlled study demonstrating that rewards improve the quality of workplace performance on a long-term basis.

At a Midwestern manufacturing company, for example, an incentive system that had been in place for years was removed at the request of the welders' union. Now, if a financial incentive motivates people, its absence should drive down production. And that is exactly what happened -- at first. But after the initial slump, the welders' production rose and eventually reached a level as high as or higher than before.

Of course, these studies -- no matter how numerous -- are hard for most of us to accept. After all, "Do this and you'll get that" is part of the fabric of American life. From gold stars to candy bars, we have faith in rewards' redemptive power.

A closer look, though explains why incentive plans not only do not succeed, but cannot succeed:
Rewards punish. Even executives who understand that coercion and threats destroy motivation may fail to recognize that the same is true of rewards. Punishments and rewards are not really opposites. They are two sides of the same coin, and the coin does not buy very much.

Like punishments, rewards are manipulative. "Do this and you'll get that" is not very different from "Do this or here's what will happen to you." The reward itself -- a bonus, say -- may be desired, but it is contingent on satisfying terms someone has imposed. Sooner or later, this sense of being controlled feels punitive.

Rewarding people is similar to punishment for another reason. When people do not get the rewards they were hoping for, they feel punished. And the more desirable the reward, the more demoralizing it is to miss out.
Rewards rupture relations. Research and experience show that excellence depends on teamwork, both because of the exchange of ideas it fosters and the climate of social support it creates. But the scramble for rewards -- particularly when they are made scarce, creating competition -- destroys this valuable cooperation.

Relationships between supervisors and workers, too, can collapse under the weight of incentives. If a supervisor wields sanctions, of course, employees will be about as glad to see that person coming as they would be to glimpse a police car in their rear-view mirror. But even if the supervisor is a rewarder, the effect is essentially the same. Incentive-driven employees will not ask for help when they need it. Instead, they will conceal problems to appear infinitely competent, or they will resort to flattery.
Rewards ignore reasons. To solve productivity problems, executives must understand the causes. Are workers unable to collaborate effectively? Is long-term growth being sacrificed for short-term gain? Each situation calls for a different response. But incentive plans offer a one-size-fits-all answer that ignores what lies behind the questions.

Rewards deter risk-taking. When people are offered incentives they are less inclined to take risks, explore possibilities, play hunches or attend to anything whose relevance to the problem at hand is not immediately evident. In a word, the No. 1 casualty of rewards is creativity. The proof: a dozen psychological studies showing that the more people are led to think about rewards, the more they prefer easy tasks. Why? Not because of laziness, but because incentives encourage concern about what one is going to get.

In short, "Do this and you'll get that" makes people focus on the "that," not the "this." Do rewards motivate people? Absolutely. They motivate people to get rewards.
Rewards undermine interest. Loving what you do is a more powerful motivator than money or any other goody. No surprise there. What is surprising is that goodies actually undermine personal motivation. The more an executive gets employees to think about what they will earn for doing their jobs well, the less interested they will be in what they are doing. Edward Deci, a University of Rochester psychologist, did pioneering studies on this effect in the early 1970's; his findings have been corroborated many times since then.

How does this happen? One explanation is that rewards are controlling. If people are led to think about getting a bonus, they start to feel their work is no longer freely chosen and directed by them. And to feel controlled is to lose interest. Another explanation is that the reward makes the work seem distasteful. "If they have to bribe me to do it," a person might figure, "it must be something I don't want to do."

Whatever the reason, rewards turn play into work and work into drudgery. Worse, when rewards corrode intrinsic motivation, workers have no other reason to put out an effort. This pattern, in turn, confirms supervisors' beliefs in the need for incentives. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Small wonder, then, that a growing number of executives are scratching their heads over the failure of their reward programs. Typical is an August article in a leading human resources journal: "Why No One Likes Your Incentive Plan."

Unfortunately, most executives believe the problem lies in the particulars of their program, and so they devise new variations on the same behaviorist theme. Countless consultants live handsomely from devising yet more ways to compute bonuses, for instance. Others persuade employers that team incentives are the way to go, or that they need to reward quality, not quantity.

But all these fixes miss the point. Trying to correct the trouble by revising a pay-for-performance program makes as much sense as treating alcoholism by switching from vodka to gin.

The problem is not with compensation, per se, but with pushing money into people's faces by offering more of it for this or that. The more closely pay is linked to achievement, the more damage is done.

If rewards do not work, what does? I recommend that employers pay workers well and fairly and then do everything possible to help them forget about money. A preoccupation with money distracts everyone -- employers and employees -- from the issues that really matter.

Those issues might be abbreviated as the three C's of quality: choice, collaboration and content. Choice means workers should participate in making decisions about what they do. Collaboration means they should be able to work together in effective teams. Content refers to the job's tasks. To do a good job, people need a good job to do.

Doing these things is much more difficult than dangling goodies in front of workers. But manipulating behavior by offering rewards, while a sound approach for training the family pet, can never bring quality to the workplace.

Submitted by TorryLA310 on

Check it out... The Mystery Shoppers are chatting about this very discusion: