When I was a student flipping burgers, we were told from day one to always be at our best, because once a month, a mystery shopper would come over and write a report about the service received, the quality of the food, and the cleanliness of the amenities. While most of my colleagues were only talking about the score received and what they thought we deserved, the only thing I was thinking was “wow, that is such a cool gig!”. That person was getting paid to eat! Other mystery shoppers got paid to spend nights at lovely hotels, or shop at their favourite stores! How much better could this be?
After a little research, I found out that mystery shoppers usually register via companies like Market Force Information, who coordinate the mystery shopping efforts on behalf of several firms. It wouldn’t make sense for a company to have their own mystery shopper on hold, and after a few visits, all the staff would be aware of the identity of that person.
You fill a little questionnaire with your age, gender and address, as well as the maximum distance you are willing to travel for an assignment.
You have to be over 18 to become a mystery shopper, have email access to receive your assignments and to a camera to upload your receipts. You must remain anonymous, so the staff is unaware of your role.
You have a specific period to complete your visit, and have to submit your report within 24 hours of the visit.
Probably one of the hardest parts of the mystery shopping role is you have to remain objective and professional. While you might be getting paid to have dinner, you are on a job before anything else, and you need to pay attention to details, as well as keeping your emotions in check so you can tell your experience objectively.
You can take notes, provided the staff doesn’t notice it.
Before going on assignment, you will be provided with guidelines about what the company wants feedback on. It can be their customer service, staff knowledge, time taken to make a sell or a refund, etc. You need to be able to observe everything in detail and then write down your report, conveying your experience back to the client in the clearest way possible.
Now, for as cool as it looks, mystery shopping can’t be your full time job. Usually you only get a few assignments here and there, and when assessing a restaurant, a free meal, or a haircut in a salon. Sometimes you can also buy something and keep it, which will only make it worth your while if you would shop at that place anyway, or enjoy their products. It is a fun way to make some extra cash, but because clients require specific profiles to give feedback about their companies, it could be that you rarely get called over. So consider it as bonus money, and have fun when you get the chance to do it!