A Guide to Beginning Mystery Shopping
Written by Paul Lanham
What is a Mystery Shopper?
Mystery shoppers are hired to eat at restaurants, shop at stores, visit attractions, theatres and more. A shopper will have to make enquiries or a purchase (like any normal customer). While there, the mystery shopper will evaluate the establishment, taking note of things like cleanliness, how employees treat customers, how fast or slow the service is, and more depending on the type of visit. The mystery shopping company pays you to make one of these visits. Then, the mystery shopper reports back to the company about their experience, usually via the web or sometimes by telephone.
Companies can use this feedback to see how and where they can improve their customer service. The service a customer receives can have a large impact on the sales of a business, which is why companies pay people to act as customers, to ensure the staff are providing good customer service, which in turn helps to increase sales.
Shoppers are paid for each assignment they take on. Additionally, they are reimbursed for the food they ate, the clothes they bought, and possibly even mileage (there is usually a limit on the amount of the reimbursement available with each assignment, however).
What does the job involve?
You can accept/apply for any assignments offered to you. Most mystery shopping companies will e-mail you when there are new assignments in your area. You can then choose whether you want to accept the assignment or not.
You will be sent a brief and about the assignment, which will include the time and date it has to be carried out on. The brief will also tell you what to purchase (if necessary) and what questions/products you will need to ask/enquire about. It is entirely up to the shopper to decide which assignments to take on.
What do you need?
Personally, you need:
- Free time
- An observant nature
- To be meticulous
To successfully carry out your assignments, you will need the following:
- Printer (and preferably a scanner)
- A computer with internet connection
Where to start?
There are literally dozens of mystery shopping companies out there. To have the best chance of picking up assignments it pays to sign up with as many as possible.
Each company will give you instructions on how they inform you of a new assignment, details of reimbursements and pay, and how you should report your feedback.