What Is Mystery Shopping?

Mystery shopping is used by many retail stores to help determine how their customer service is doing. From the person that takes your order at the drive through to the person that answers your call when you call to inquire about a price or item that is in stock, mystery shoppers are verifying how the customer service representative did.

Mystery shoppers are hired by independent agencies and screened to see how they will respond to questions. From there, the mystery shopper will be assigned shops. These shops will be done during specific time frames and days of the week. The company that they are shopping won’t know who they are or when they will be shopping so they have no way to control how they treat the customers.

The theory in this is that the customer service representatives shouldn’t be serving one customer better than another so hopefully, they will serve all customers equally.

The mystery shopper will go out on their assigned day and time frame and go to the store that they are assigned to. From the moment they arrive in the parking area until the moment that they leave the parking area, the shop is in progress.

The mystery shopper will look for a variety of details as they go through their shop. They may have a pre-assigned scenario or they may simply be required to go through each section of the store and get names of associates and ask a few questions.

Mystery Shopping in Belfast, Northern Ireland

They have been taught how to discreetly record names and information in their notes or on their phones so that they can keep track of these names and the information for their reports.

Typically they will have to make a small purchase that depending on the company that they were hired by they may or may not be reimbursed for.

Upon completion of their shop they will move on to their next shop if they have more than one that particular day, or they will simply go home and record their shop experience on the questionnaire. Today, thanks to modern technology, the questionnaires are usually online and easy to complete.

The mystery shopper will record their receipt with their digital camera, cell phone, or a scanner and upload it to the questionnaire.

At no time will the mystery shopper reveal who they are to the store that they are shopping unless they are given a “reveal” shop wherein they are to ask for the manager and reveal their identity after they have completed the shop. Each company works slightly differently and the mystery shopper will know the policy for their company and follow it to the letter.

A few weeks after the shop the employer will get the results of the mystery shop. He or she will see the names of their associates and be able to help their employees improve on their customer service skills, or reward those employee’s that have given excellent service.

Mystery shoppers typically only shop the same store every three to six months to help protect their identity. This way, they can do the same shop multiple times and won’t be identified by the stores that they are shopping.

If the mystery shopper is identified by accident, they will no longer be able to shop for that particular store and sometimes for the company that they worked for. Every effort is made by mystery shoppers to protect and keep their identity a secret from the stores that they are shopping to report on.

Just about every major corporation that has a brick and mortar store hires a company to send mystery shoppers in and check on how they are doing for their customer service. They don’t all work the same. Some require extensive training and others do not.

Mystery shoppers in may be required to be licensed in some areas as a Private Investigator. Each company and area or region is slightly different so it’s important to know and understand the laws regarding this for the particular region that you’ll be working in.

Mystery shoppers can make a decent wage if they’ve been with the same company for several years and have many shops that they do each and every day.