Mystery shopping, also called secret shopping has become a very popular subject for both retailers and consumers. Often, companies will hire a mystery shopper to act as a customer and monitor such aspects of their businesses as, customer service, customer experience, and atmosphere and pay them for their findings. During mystery shopping, the mystery shopper is taking mental notes, or physical notes, so that they can record their findings and report them to the company that hired them.
Mystery shopping has certainly evolved over the years, but if you are a new mystery shopper, you may be unintentionally advertising your status as a mystery shopper without you even knowing it! New mystery shoppers are often not very discreet and this can easily take the 'mystery' out of the picture. This will alert the workers in the business to your presence and may give your mystery shopping report less surprise because the worker saw you coming.
How Can I Become a More Discreet Mystery Shopper?
Below are 3 tips you can use while mystery shopping to not alert the business to your presence.
1. Act Natural - Mystery shoppers have a tendency to act as if they are on a mission. The mystery shopper's body language will very often alert the sales clerk to their mission. Act natural and if you are looking around the store, try not to appear as though you are analyzing everything. Try looking out of the corner of your eye and averting your eyes while reading a product label. If you are talking to a store clerk, engage them as you would if you weren't a mystery shopper. Secret shopping can make a mystery shopper feel more important with their mission, and this can be easily seen in the mannerisms and method of speaking. Be aware of yourself and your surroundings when mystery shopping. Don't act mechanical!
2. Don't Carry a Large Notepad - If you have to record the data and take notes from your mystery shopping experience, do not use a large notepad. This is like broadcasting suspicious activity to the retailers. As a mystery shopper you need to be discreet. Your note taking has to be equally as discreet in order to get real results. When you do take notes, do so quickly and amidst other shoppers if possible. This will help you blend in and avoid being seen as a mystery shopper. Also, when you are writing, try to make it look like you are referring to a shopping list. Cross items off as you go, this will aid you greatly as a mystery shopper.
3. Use the Bathrooms - This is a great way to add secrecy and discretion while mystery shopping. As a directive, you may be required to report on the cleanliness of the restrooms, but even if you are not, use it! The reason for this is that the restrooms can offer you the opportunity to take notes away from the prying eyes of alert workers. Go into one of the stalls and record your findings. This will require you to be a good mental note taker until you can write it down. Mystery shopping takes creativity. One creative tool to the mystery shopper is the use of the common restroom.
If you are a veteran in the mystery shopping business, then you may already employ some of these tactics and be aware of some of the best methods. If you are a new mystery shopper, then I encourage you to brief over the list above both now and before you embark on your mystery shopping career. Remember, the key word in mystery shopping is the word, "mystery"! If you can master your ability to be mysterious, it will make for a more fun and productive mystery shopping experience.