Mystery Shopper – Secret shopping can be a profession

job as mystery shopper

Hey Mystery Shopper, Be ready!

We all need to shop. It might be for clothes, shoes, books, food, electronics and the list never ends. But there are people who do not really like shopping and do it because they need to do it. Then there are people who like doing it and enjoy the process. But then, there are people who just love doing it and cannot live without it. This is when you can choose “Mystery Shopper” as a job for yourself. Let’s discuss various aspects of this exciting shopaholic job and how you can start working.

If you absolutely love shopping, you may as well like our article on Career as a Personal Shopper

Mystery Shopper as a Job

The first thing you will have to understand is that is you will be an independent professional. But, nowadays there are agencies and companies which are called Mystery Shopping Agencies or Mystery Shopping Companies, which may hire you and you can work for them if you like it the other way around. 

Now, that we have understood who a mystery shopper is, we need to understand what mystery shopping is? Let us hop straight into that.

What it is all about?

In this profession, you get hired by individual contractors of various retails, malls, restaurants, brand outlets, Spas, and other service providers. That’s it. Then you need to go there and shop. No, it is not that simple though.

The sole reason you get hired by them is that you need to go in as a normal customer and then file in your experience based on various parameters, which we would further discuss in the article. But why do they do so? Simple, they want to measure the quality of customer experience and customer satisfaction. They want and ensure that their customers get the best of treatment and experience. 

So now you know why this profession is popularly also referred to as a “Secret Shopper.”

Advantages of being a Mystery Shopper

Well, this interesting job has so many things to offer. Let’s talk about some of them:

  • You get paid while you are doing shopping or having an exquisite dish in a restaurant. Most of the tasks you do on any assignments, you would do normally when purchasing a product or consuming a service Although the money you earn is not a big amount still you are earning. We will talk about the pay later in this article.
  • You are gaining valuable consumer insights which later might help you in other jobs or when you open your own business. You see numerous sales skills when you visit places. In the future, this knowledge will help you to improve customer satisfaction and conversions.
  • You get a flexible work schedule without putting too much time into work. So it would be a good choice when you are studying and looking for a part-time income. So maintaining work-life balance would be easier.
  • One exciting benefit would be to buy things and the bill will be reimbursed later by your client. So free stuff. Now, who would not like that?
  • For different assignments, you need to visit different places. It will keep you excited and you can learn a lot. Also, you can choose the assignments which suit your interest areas.
  • At the end of the day, you get a satisfaction that you helped an organization to give better service to people just like you. That would be a good motivation to work further as a secret shopper.

Mystery Shopping Skills

Observational skill: You need to have excellent observation skills to shine in this job. You will not be only shopping, but you will evaluate each parameter given by your client.

Memory skill: You won’t be able to note down everything while doing the mystery audit. So remembering little things like the name of a salesperson, service given in a particular touchpoint, behavior of a doorkeeper, etc can make a big difference in your report for the overall quality analysis.

Honesty: A mystery shopper needs to be truthful while writing the report. He should not be biased or get influenced by any bribe being offered. Clients are hiring you to find the areas where they have issues or scope of improvement. So your integrity should be intact.

Probing Skills: You have to ask the right questions so that you get the overall image of the areas to be examined. Asking questions is an art that you will learn with experience.

Writing skill: You must possess good writing skills to document your findings effectively. You need to write with a proper flow with facts taken during the assignment. Your report writing should be organized, precise and should not produce any further doubts on key areas you have examined.

Friendly attitude and communication skills: You need to mingle with staff and other customers well to get insights into the place to be audited. So more jovial and friendly you can be, the better information you will extract for the project. Your communication skills also play an important role in this job.

Here is a detailed article on how you can improve your communication skill

Roles and Responsibilities

Going down further, let us now discuss the responsibilities and tasks you will have to follow and do in this profession:

  • Understanding the requirements of your client: Once you take up an assignment, find out the exact parameters your client wants you to examine.
  • Visiting various retail stores and outlets as instructed: This one is the most basic of all the others. This is what you have to do, and we believe you already knew this one. But you will have to take care of a few things. You will have to buy a specifically instructed product, or you could buy random products too. You need to keep taking notes secretly, for making the report. Also, remember, you are using their money, so don’t go over the budget. Always keep the receipts.  We will soon discuss some guidelines on it.
  • Your checklist: But it cannot be that simple. There are a few more to-dos which you will have to follow. You need to keep interacting with the employees as a normal customer would. Ask about the products of the establishment you are visiting. Keep an eye on their behavior and try to remember their names. This would be useful for you while you will be making the report.
  • You need to make a report or questionnaire after your visit: This would be the last of all responsibilities. Also, this is very important. All mystery shoppers need to be careful with this part. Draft the report carefully, taking all details into considerations and submit the receipt of payment to with it. You may mail your employer on demand. This is when you will be paid.

You can find more information here

Yes, that is so interesting and cool. And guess what- you will be paid for this job. Now let’s discuss some other factors to start your career as a mystery shopper.

Training and Certification

Certification in this field is not mandatory but it certainly gives an extra edge over other applicants. MSPA or Mystery Shopping Providers Association is one of the renowned trade organization which issues silver and gold certifications. This certification is accepted by many mystery shopping agencies. You may read it in detail in this article.

Also, each country has its own rules and regulation while hiring a mystery shopper. Many agencies have their own certification and training programs to equip candidates with knowledge and skills.

What Do I Need To Have For Mystery Shopping?

It may sound like a detective or a spy movie but you need to use some gadgets to capture the insight in a given place. Let’s list down some equipment you need to carry:

  • A good quality voice recorder to record the tone and speech of service staff. Audio is also helpful when you are writing the final report.
  • A cell phone with a camera and note-taking apps. Sometimes you need to take photos as you do the secret shopping.
  • Carry a manual notepad and a pen as well. Right after you come out of the place, you can write important notes on it.

Things to focus during your visit

Followings are some questions you need to focus upon in general:

  • Are the customers being greeted well?
  • Is the waiting time acceptable and genuine?
  • Are the products on display sufficient or more than enough?
  • Whether the place’s temperature comforting for customers?
  • Are the employees giving proper answers to the customers?
  • Are salespeople trying to promote new products or doing cross-selling? etc

How to Become a Mystery Shopper?

Start learning about this profession and the best practices going on in the present scenario.

It’s always good to have a certification in secret shopping. It may help you get more contracts in the future. But as we discussed earlier its not absolute necessity.

Do your research before you get into this profession. The more homework you can do, the better it is. There are many scams going on so try to figure out which companies are genuine and which are not. Also when you are searching for jobs you should not pay any money to companies or agencies which are offering you such jobs. You may need to pay for the purchase sometimes but that’s a different thing.

Register yourself with legit mystery shopper jobs. It may take a while to get your first call so please be patient. Find and submit more mystery shopper application. It can increase your chances to bag more contracts.

Know your responsibilities according to the needs of your client before starting an assignment. Each employer is different and wants to know different things from the mystery audit. So work in tune with heir demand and criteria.

Build your mystery shopping portfolio updating all the clients you have recently served. Take their testimonials as well after you finish the assignments. It will increase your credibility and help you get more clients.

A valid mail ID and a Paypal account you should have before you start your job. Almost 99% of companies communicate through Emails and they prefer online transactions for paying your fee.

Maintain a good relationship with your agency and clients. A positive word of mouth or a reference may fetch you more contracts than you ever imagine.

Different Types of Mystery Shopping

Followings are some of the most common mystery shopping jobs

In-person mystery shopping: Its the most traditional and popular mystery shopping technique where you visit physically and evaluate a shop or a cafe.

Mystery shopping by phone: Here you give a call to the place and ask questions. You then write your feedback based on the telephonic conversation.

Online Mystery Shopping jobs: Under this, you may need to perform a different kind of tasks like taking a survey, asking questions through emails or chatting with the online support person.

Things you should avoid at all cost

Don’t be late on the day of your assignment. Better you arrive a few minutes earlier. It will win the heart of your employer.

Don’t be rude to the staff where you have gone for mystery shopping under any circumstances. Your agency sent you there as they anticipated some issues. Just do your job in a calm manner and submit your report.

Don’t write your opinionated answer or biased response. Be objective and write the honest report keeping your emotions aside. You have to be impartial.

Don’t let the staff know that you are a mystery shopper. Else it’s pointless. Act natural.

Don’t do mystery shopping when the shop is empty(confirm it once with the agency as in some special cases they may need you to go to places when they are empty). You should conduct this activity in the rush hour. It will show the right picture of the customer service when the place is full and service staffs are already occupied.

Mystery Shopper Salary

Payment is an important part of every job and the scenario is no different in the case of Mystery Shoppers. How much will you be paid? How much could you expect? Are there any benefits? Are there perks? You will be an hourly or monthly basis? How and when will you be paid?  All these questions must be popping up in your head right now. Do not worry; we are here to clear them all out.

The interesting thing here is that the amount of money you will be making highly depends on various factors. Most mystery shoppers consider it a Part Time Job and therefore are paid hourly. It also depends on factors like which company you are working for. You could be working for a company that pays you on the basis of an assignment. So it does not matter how many hours you are putting in, you would be paid the same.

There are instances where mystery shoppers are paid on a monthly basis. These are the cases of mostly experienced mystery shoppers. So, by now, you must have understood that your payment highly depends on the mystery shopper’s relationship with his company or agency.

Now here is the important part. Let us talk about the figures now. Hold tight, but do not worry, it is a pretty decent amount for this fun job.

Experienced mystery shoppers, in today’s date, are making around $20 – $25 an hour. On the other hand, newly joined are earning around $5 – $10 an hour. Sometimes the clients pay you for the assignment and not the hours spent at the shop as we discussed before. The range could be $20 – $100. Some agencies don’t pay fees but they reimburse expenses up to a certain limit for your shopping. That’s not bad either huh!

In India, one can earn around Rs 200 – Rs 500 per assignment. You may also get free products and other benefits. Once you gather a good amount of exposure in this job you may earn even higher.

Mystery Shopper Jobs in India

When you are working inside India, mystery shopping jobs are mostly available in tier1 and tier2 cities. There are certain companies like Floorwalk and Marconix in India providing their audit services pan India. Many organizations are realizing the importance of this practice and in the near future, we hope to see more companies hiring secret shoppers throughout the country.

So do you have to pay from your own pocket?

Many mystery shopping assignments involve purchasing certain products or services. One question is often asked, that is “Do we have to pay for the purchases during the assignment?” Well, most agencies reimburse all your expenses incurred. So you don’t need to worry about that. But please follow the guidelines given below to avoid any hassle related to reimbursement:

  • If you think your assignment is going to cost you money or you need to buy certain products, inform this to your agency in advance and get their approval.
  • In case you have been given a budget for your purchases, don’t go beyond that limit.
  • Keep all your money receipts and other documents carefully.
  • Take pictures of the products that you purchased. Audit images should be taken with a timestamp.

One final advice

So with this, we would like to close for today. To be honest, do not look at Mystery Shopping as an income generator. Practically, it won’t be a wise choice. But what you can look at it is as a way of reducing your expenses or covering them for you. For example, there are people, working part-time as mystery shoppers and need to visit restaurants and movies for the sake.

In that way, they do not need to pay for availing of these services they are using. You can cover your entertainment expenses every month. Yes, of course, you can join companies, as we have discussed above working as a mystery shopper there. It is completely your choice. But be careful while taking such decisions. Thank you. 

Related Article: The Insightful Journey Of A Reviewer

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