Get Better Results as a Mystery Shopper
While it is generally true that you don’t need any special training to become a mystery shopper, you will find that some people excel and get better results than others. These seeming super shoppers score multiple gigs at a time, write about their premium experiences, generate consistent income – and you wonder, “How do they do it?!”
Consider this: companies utilize mystery shoppers to gather essential customer service intel, which they use to make better business decisions that will ultimately affect the bottom line. It goes without saying, then, that the firms that offer mystery shopping opportunities give preference to secret shoppers who consistently deliver valuable information and insights from their mystery shopping experiences.
So what is it that these mavens do differently? How can you position yourself to get better results as a mystery shopper?
There is no magic formula, but there are certain habits and skills you can develop that will help you be more effective on every opportunity that presents itself – and improve your chances of getting high paying, repeat opportunities.
Be observant and take good notes
It is unlikely that you need to be taught how to shop – you’ve had plenty of practice being a customer in different scenarios. However, being an observant shopper who can clearly communicate observations does take some extra skill. You have to be intentional to adequately capture and retain relevant details/highlights of your experience so you can later share your findings accurately with the company you evaluated.
As a mystery shopper, you may be asked to comment on the disposition of the salesperson(s) you encountered, the state in which you found the store, and your checkout experience. It’s important to make mental notes – and where possible, written notes – cataloging your experience as you go. If you are not deliberate about this, you may forget important details later on when you’re putting together an outline of your findings.
Of course, taking notes while a customer service agent is attending to you could prove a little tricky. It would set off alarm bells for the agent if you whipped out a notepad mid-sentence. For a secret shopper, discretion is the name of the game, and you can successfully accomplish this with a few tactics. For one, you could fashion out moments alone (hey, bathroom breaks are allowed) during or right after your mystery shopping experience to quickly write down a few points you don’t want to forget. You may also consider jotting down points on your phone with a notes app – which would not be quite as conspicuous as pen and paper.
In a few cases, some mystery shoppers have been known to use an undetectable body camera. The stuff of which sleuthing adventures are made!
Ultimately, you want to devise a method that works for you, allowing you to effectively and discreetly document your shopping experience.
Write accurate, complete reports
Every secret shopper gig will require that you present your observations and respond to specific questions in relation to the experience – whether by filling out an online template or typing out a comprehensive outline of your findings. It is important that you share your observations as soon as you can after you have completed the shop, while the experience is still fresh on your mind.
Be sure to completely fill out the form or questionnaire that came with the project objectives provided by the client. An incomplete questionnaire could be taken as an indication that you are not thorough, and in many cases, a complete questionnaire is a requirement for getting paid and/or reimbursed for your purchases of the company’s products or services.
Present facts alongside opinions
As best you can, be objective in your findings. Your perceptions as the customer are important, but it also helps the company to have context since you are their “eyes” on the field. Descriptive statements that point out actual behaviors lend more clarity and depth of insight than general adjectives. For instance, consider the difference between saying, “The salesperson was nice” and, “The salesperson was nice; she greeted me with a smile and asked if she could be of assistance.”
It’s kind of tough to measure “nice”, but the latter statement goes a bit further and provides indicators (“greet,” “smile”, “ask”) that can be objectively measured.
Rounding up, anyone could be a secret shopper, but with a few deliberate practices, you can set yourself apart, establish a good reputation and increase your chances for more frequent, better-paying shopping opportunities. Mystery shoppers can affect their profitability by being a top performer and carefully selecting the opportunities they perform.