What Is Mystery Shopping? Everything You Need to Know
Mystery shopping is when an organization hires you to go into some sort of company’s or organization’s physical location to complete certain tasks.
It’s called “mystery” shopping because the company/organization doesn’t know you’ve been hired to do this — they just think you’re another customer.
Companies hire mystery shoppers for many different reasons, but they all boil down to one thing — the customer experience. No matter where you’re sent to mystery shop or what you’re asked to do, you’ll be gathering data on your experience as a consumer.
Some places that you might be sent as a mystery shopper include:
- Big-box stores
- Movie theaters
- Hospitals and doctor’s offices
- Car dealerships
- Government buildings
That’s right — even the government hires mystery shoppers!
The benefits of hiring a mystery shopper for companies is that they get to find out if their employees are acting the way they’re supposed to act and doing the things they’re supposed to do.
Sure, management could send someone into the store to do an inspection — and most companies do this regularly — but they’re only going to see their employees on their best behavior.
Your job as a mystery shopper is to find out what they’re really like. The same applies to government institutions and hospitals. They want to make sure the patient experience or the experience of the average citizen is meeting the expectations of the organization.
Depending on the state or country you live in, you might have to get certified to become a mystery shopper, or you might have to work with only specific certified companies that provide mystery shopping services to other companies and government institutions.
Because there are so many different types of mystery shopping opportunities, there are a lot of different things that mystery shoppers can potentially do.
Your Job As a Mystery Shopper
There are many things you might be asked to do as a mystery shopper, all depending on the company that hires you, their goals, and what they’re allowed to do under the law.
In most cases, your goal is simply to observe and report. You’ll be asked to complete specific tasks. This might include:
- Returning an item
- Making an appointment
- Going to an appointment (like a sales or doctor’s appointment)
- Purchasing a specific item on the menu
- Asking about, finding, and then purchasing an item
- Signing up for a membership
- Asking for help with a specific problem
You’ll have a detailed list of all the things you have to accomplish. This can be quite extensive in some cases, but you’ll have time beforehand to look over the questions and plan out how you’re going to complete your task. You’ll also be able to take this list with you — you just have to hide it well.
You might even be asked to act like a “difficult customer,” but this is rare. In most cases, the goal of the company that hired you is to see how employees are acting when they’re not being watched and are just going about their regular duties.
Mystery shopping isn’t just about performing these tasks — you’re also going to need to collect some data. This can be difficult when you’re trying to act like a normal customer, so it will help if you have a good memory.
However, many mystery shoppers have found ways of taking notes without being obvious, and when you get hired, you can ask for tips and tricks to get the information required without blowing your cover.
You can be asked to collect all kinds of data on the customer experience, including:
- If dress codes were being followed
- If a receipt was offered
- If the store was in good condition/clean
- If employees completed certain tasks (like asking you to sign up for a rewards account or offering you a discount on your first purchase)
- If you had to wait around for a while to be seated
- If you had to wait more than a certain length of time to be served
- If anyone was rude or disrespectful
- If you were offered other products/services/food items in addition to what you purchased
- If the employee tried different methods of selling you the product/service after you declined their first attempt
- If more than one employee was required to help you complete the task
There will also be other types of data that you’ll need to collect that are specific to the company you’re working for.
Why You Should Become a Mystery Shopper
The main reason to become a mystery shopper is the obvious one — you get paid!
However, you should keep in mind that mystery shopping doesn’t always pay a ton. In fact, in many cases, the big benefit is that you get a product or service for “free.”
“Free” means that you get reimbursed for your purchase. For example, if you go to a restaurant as a mystery shopper, you’ll have to pay for your own food, but then you’ll get refunded up to a certain amount after your mystery shopping experience.
You might also get a free stay at a hotel, or you might get some free tickets to a movie or a theme park.
Basically, you get to do something you’d probably want to do anyway, and you get to do it for free.
When you do get paid, it might only be ten bucks, but it might be up to $100, or even more, depending on the assignment.
So you get to do something fun for free, and you get some cash on top. Depending on the task, you might even be able to bring friends or family along.
Sounds like a pretty good deal, right? If it does, then mystery shopping might just be for you!
Interested in Becoming a Mystery Shopper? Find Opportunities in Your Area
If you’re interested in becoming a mystery shopper, we can help.
Click here to learn more about mystery shopping opportunities near you.