Implementing a Mystery Shopping Program: Where Did It Go Wrong?


This case invites students to put themselves in the shoes of Delia, the company HR specialist responsible for the implementation of mystery shopping at Salsa, a chain restaurant. Students will have the opportunity to discuss the negative impact of this new performance appraisal system on employee morale. Salsa, located in the state of Florida, USA, decided to improve the quality of its customer service by implementing mystery shopping. Six months after this practice was implemented, the quality of customer service has slightly increased. At the same time, employees have grown increasingly unhappy with the practice. First, employees feel the company implemented mystery shopping to spy on them, so their trust in the restaurant management and corporate leadership has decreased. Second, employees of three service areas, kitchen, cashiers, and dining, do not like being evaluated as one big team and thought the old system that used separate criteria for each service area was fair. Third, the company did not provide a formal process for employees to appeal the results, ask questions, or provide suggestions related to the new practice. Observing the situation from Delia’s perspective, students will search for possible solutions to improve this situation.

This case was prepared for inclusion in SAGE Business Cases primarily as a basis for classroom discussion or self-study, and is not meant to illustrate either effective or ineffective management styles. Nothing herein shall be deemed to be an endorsement of any kind. This case is for scholarly, educational, or personal use only within your university, and cannot be forwarded outside the university or used for other commercial purposes.

2023 Sage Publications, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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