What Makes for a Great Mystery Shopper

August 4, 2017

If you spend some time researching mystery shopping, you could be forgiven for thinking that becoming a good shopper means taking online courses and earning certifications. While those endeavors don’t hurt, they aren’t necessary either. Truth be told, mystery-shopping companies like The Brandt Group want real people with honest opinions—because that’s what client companies expect, because that kind of input is the most genuine. Nevertheless, there are some qualities that separate good shoppers from great ones:

Attention to Detail

Most of the time, a mystery shop will involve you visiting a location (a retail store, restaurant, auto dealership, hotel, or any of a myriad of other places) under the guise of being a customer. After you’ve completed your visit, you’ll be asked to complete a digital audit detailing your experiences. While these surveys are mostly filled with Yes and No questions, the real meat of your audit will be in the commentary you write. You’ll be expected to describe how your visit went, what you liked and didn’t, and what your thoughts for improvement.

Being observant goes a long way to bringing your written audits to life, and using those specific observations to bring your descriptions to life. Describing a hot tub showroom as “claustrophobic but with large signs over each area” is okay, but this is much better: “The showroom was divided up into four areas separated by tight, narrow pathways. Three of the areas were for different brands of hot tubs while the fourth was for an array of supplies. Large yellow signs with bold, black lettering hung over each section indicating what was located where.”

While clients aren’t looking for you to write a book, using concrete detail will make your descriptions much easier to read and understand. Characterizing the above showroom as claustrophobic is fine, but explaining why you feel that way is even better. Peppering specifics into your descriptions will make it stand out and ensure you receive more assignments.

Love of Role-Playing

You might find yourself in a store you wouldn’t normally shop in; for example, perhaps you live in an apartment, so you wouldn’t be able to really buy a hot tub from this hypothetical store. To be an effective mystery shopper, however, you must be able to jump into the role of such a customer. You needn’t invent an elaborate backstory or an all-new persona (though you can if you really want to); instead, you can just imagine yourself in a different place in life. What would you care about in choosing a hot tub if you did live in a house instead of an apartment? If you were in the market, what could you imagine using one for? Relaxation? Therapy? Connecting socially with family and friends? What features would matter the most? Size? Warranty? Jet types?

While you might be role-playing, it’s best to remember that you’re playacting a different version of yourself. Be honest. The less you have to make up, the more comfortable and natural you’ll be, and the more fun you’re likely to have.

A Passion for Customer Service

Let’s face it: no one gets rich off of being a mystery shopper. While it is a great secondary source of income, easy and fun, it’s unlikely to ever be your primary vocation. So why do it?

Aside from the spare cash, you should do it because you care about good customer service. We all know that more and more of business is moving online, to the impersonal space of webpages and apps. In a world where products and services are all becoming commodities, and even the customers themselves are commodified into email addresses and account names, you know that it’s more important than ever for the local store to differentiate itself with great customer service. The business that mystery shops is the one that really cares about your experience and about improving—that really wants to foster customer loyalty.

So yes, you should want to mystery shop for the money, but you should also want to shop because you believe in the idea of helping businesses self improve and better train their employees. Mystery shoppers who care like this write better audits, are more comfortable role-playing, and are the ones who really help clients identify where they’re strongest—and where they need improvement. A better customer experience is a boon for everyone: for the customers, obviously, but also for the employees who will enjoy less stressful work environments and for the businesses themselves that will continue to be successful.

There are many mystery-shopping companies out there, to be sure. We’d love it if you considered joining us at The Brandt Group and helping us in our mission to improve the customer experience for all our clients. We can’t wait to read your first audit! Visit us at http://www.thebrandtgroup.com/become-a-shopper to get started today!

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