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Demystifying the Mystery Shop

Posted on 10/7/14 10:43 AM

Some refer to themselves as mystery shoppers, secret shoppers bigstock-portrait-of-a-young-man-lookin-29525693or even undercover agents. The fact of the matter is, “mystery shopping” is about monitoring the quality of employee interaction through the eyes of the customer. The results provide a snapshot in time to give retailers/grocers/restaurant owners an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.

An estimated 2.5 million mystery shoppers serve as the eyes and ears for those clients in an effort to enhance the customer experience and in some instances determine adherence to the client’s policies and procedures. Many times, the information collected during mystery shopping programs is used to help the client improve training programs, better articulate expectations they have of their staff, and otherwise improve the ways in which the client serves its customers.

Ever wonder what a mystery shopper’s day looks like? Mystery shoppers are assigned to go to specific stores or restaurants and pose as typical customers. After their store visit, they complete surveys or questionnaires that have been designed in partnership with the mystery shopping company's clients to test various aspects of the customer experience. The length of time a mystery shop takes depends on the type of assignment, but usually a shop is likely to take considerably less than an hour (exclusive of travel time). The fees a mystery shopper earns from a specific shop vary just as greatly as the time required, but often a shopper is paid between $8 and $20 for the "typical" shopping scenario. In some cases the shopper might also receive free meals, discounts and savings on merchandise, or may be paid in kind with the client’s merchandise.

There are many misconceptions about mystery shopping; many believe it to be a quick and easy way earn cash, others believe it’s a way to "get paid to shop."  Mystery shopping is a serious responsibility intended to gather information about the customer experience in a specific environment.  It requires time, attention and effort.  Mystery shoppers do pose as shoppers but they are not paid to shop. They are in stores to gather data and report back their findings to assist the client to improve its customer service

There you have it, mystery unveiled. Now, do you have what it takes to become a mystery shopper?

Topics: Mystery Shopping

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