What do Mystery Shoppers Do?

A mystery shopper is a person who poses as a real buyer/patron while assessing customer service levels provided by an organization or business. While posing as a customer you will make observations on very specific elements of your visit.

Businesses work with mystery shopping companies to create programs that evaluate aspects of their business, such as customer service and product knowledge. They may also need programs that check on employee integrity and manager operations.

As a mystery shopper, you would receive notice of available assignments from your registered shopping companies.  An assignment can be a telephone call, sending emails, taking a survey, shopping on a website, visiting a business, or having someone visit your home. The possibilities are endless.

The notice that an assignment is available will come from a scheduler hired by the mystery shopping company. The scheduler is responsible for finding mystery shoppers to complete the shopping assignments. The scheduler has to make sure the jobs are filled by shoppers who will complete the job according to the guidelines, and on time.

After you receive a notice that an assignment is available, you must read over the information to see if the assignment is something that appeals to you. The assignment notice will likely have the location, the amount to be paid upon completion, the amount the shop will provide for reimbursement, the date that it has to be completed, and a number of details about the assignment.

If you would like to complete the assignment, you can request the job. The job might be assigned to you right away or you may have to wait for the scheduler to approve the assignment (especially if you are new and do not have a history with the mystery shopping company.)

Once the job is assigned to you, you must read over the guidelines right away. If there is anything in the guidelines that would prevent you from completing the assignment, you must notify your scheduler right away. Perhaps it is a dining assignment and you were going to bring your family – once you read the guidelines, you realized that no children are allowed on this particular shop. To keep a good shopper rating, you must notify your scheduler immediately that you cannot complete the shop and tell them why. You could also decide to get a babysitter and complete the job anyway. J

For this example, we are going to assume that you are visiting a business in person as part of the assignment. Depending on the shop guidelines, you may be expected to observe and note the following items:

  • arrival time
  • time until greeted
  • names of the staff members who assisted you
  • were certain items in stock
  • how did the staff member respond to a specific question
  • did the staff member inform you of any specials or clubs
  • was the location clean
  • was a restroom available, clean, and stocked with supplies
  • were you thanked by a staff member and invited to return?
  • what time did you exit

During the shop, you must never reveal that you are a mystery shopper. You cannot take notes in the open during your shop (you can take notes secretly). You cannot bring the shop form with you during the shop.

Each shop will have different types of details that must be noted for that client so you must read the guidelines.

Once you have left the shop location, you need to complete the report. Most mystery shopping assignments will have a deadline. Sometimes your report needs to be completed within 24 hours, sometimes before midnight the day of your shop.

Some mystery shopping reports do not require any narrative, but most of the time some narrative is required. Narrative is the part of your report that requires you to tell the story of your visit. This requires using your writing and grammar skills.

Using poor grammar and incorrect spelling in your report will result in a bad shop review. Usually shop reports are rated on a scale of 1-10. A perfect shop report is a score of 10. Points will be subtracted for poor grammar, spelling, and failure to follow guidelines. A score of 7 or greater will usually still be accepted. If you score lower than a 7, your shop may  not be accepted and you will not be paid or reimbursed.

After your report is accepted and you receive your grade, you need to wait for your shop to be paid. Each mystery shopping company has their own payment schedule. Be sure to familiarize yourself with it so you know when to expect your payment and reimbursement. For many companies, a shop completed this month will be paid at the end of next month. Ex: a shop completed on February 7th would receive payment on March 30th.

I hope this explains in better detail what mystery shoppers do. If you are ready to get started go to the list of the Best Mystery Shopping Companies and start registering with all of them. The more you register with, the more chance you have of finding your dream shop. Good Luck and Happy Shopping!