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Mystery Shopping Is A Big Business

Monday, January 18th

Mystery Shopping Is a Big Business

In this decade, mystery shopping is one of the hottest trends found in any store. In the United States alone, the industry is valued at over $600 million with no signs of slowing down. Although practically every industry enlists the services of mystery shopping, the top companies known to hire secret shoppers, including retail, banking/financial, fast food and gas station/convenience store outlets.

Mystery shopping allows for individuals to pose as regular customers while they are, in fact, actually evaluating a business, product or service. Secret shoppers, also known as mystery shoppers, work on their own schedule and enjoy all of the conveniences that go along with being self-employed. In addition, secret shoppers often get to enjoy a host of products and/or services free of charge.

Although being a secret shopper can certainly be fun, much like any other job, the work is very serious. The goal of mystery shopping is to provide an unbiased evaluation regarding a company's customer service, product quality and/or availability and overall shopping experience. Generally, businesses use mystery shopping reports as a way of improving their company.

If you are searching for a mystery shopping job, it's a good idea to work with more than one company. This is especially true if you hope to receive a steady workflow. When you sign up with a mystery shopping company, you may be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement and/or permit the company to perform a background check.

When you receive an assignment as a secret shopper, you will be given a set of guidelines to follow during your evaluation. In most cases, you will also be given a questionnaire to complete that will serve as your evaluation. Most questions require standard, one word answers. Others, however, may require that you elaborate on a certain experience or explain your take on one or more business policies.

If you plan to make mystery shopping either a part or full-time career, you will need to act professionally, uphold every aspect of any/all contracts, remain motivated to work hard and take pride in each evaluation. Every secret shopper needs to possess an eye for detail, which means you will notice even the smallest of points that others may overlook. Because your evaluation will be in written form, you must also have the ability to write clearly and effectively.

Mystery shopping is one of the best and most effective ways for companies to learn what works and what does not. If you have ever walked into a store and noticed a comment box, then you have already experienced a company who values opinions and is looking for ways to improve the overall experience of their customers. A secret shopper is the live version of a comment box and, in exchange for financial compensation, will produce a well-written evaluation that can be used to improve every aspect of a business. Although they work in secret, there really is no mystery as to why every industry values the work of a secret shopper and the valuable information that only they can provide.

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Mystery Shopping Company FAQ

Mystery shopping, sometimes referred to as "secret shopping" , is the way that many businesses get information about how their stores, offices or locations are doing with respect to customer service. Are the employees friendly? Are the proper signs displayed for a holiday promotion? Companies contract with mystery shopping providers that send in "secret shoppers" , who pretend to be there as a regular customer but are actually taking notes on their experience. Does that sound like fun? It is!
There's really no limit to the types of "mystery shops" you might have the chance to complete. You could visit a restaurant and place a specific order, go to a movie theater and see how clean the restrooms are, or even ship a package at the post office. Some mystery shops require you to buy a product and return it later, to evaluate how well the employee handles the transaction on both ends.
You'll get a lengthy series of instructions for each mystery shop assigned to you. In order to get paid, you'll need to follow those details to the letter. Common requirements are noting the time it takes to be approached by a salesperson, how long you wait in line to ring up your purchase, or the number of customers present at a particular time of day. You might also be asked to take photos or video (as surreptitiously as possible!).
It shouldn't! Reputable mystery shopping services allow you to register as an independent contractor at no cost to you. If you see a website that asks you to pay to become a secret shopper, you'll know it's not on the up-and-up. In fact, they're probably just going to give you a list of the real mystery shopping companies that you could have signed up for without their help!
That varies widely. Some shops only pay you a small amount of money, because you get to keep the product (or eat the meal, or see the movie, etc.). If a shop is high-priority - because it's time-sensitive, or maybe another shopper cancelled at the last minute - you could get a bonus payment. It's unlikely you'll make a living as a mystery shopper, but it could put some spending money in your pockets, give you a free date night, or provide you with some fun merchandise at no cost.
Yes, most of the time. Mystery shopping is always done on a 1099 (independent contractor) basis, and most providers understand that their secret shoppers will be working with more than one service at a time. But, during the sign-up process, be sure to read all of the requirements of the company where you're applying, just to make sure there aren't any non-compete clauses that would prohibit you from working for a rival service.
You want to avoid that happening at all costs! Think of mystery shopping as an acting role: you're not really "you" , but rather someone that could be an everyday customer at the store. If you're outed as a mystery shopper before you've finished gathering the required information, it could invalidate the entire job - and you won't get paid.
While there are absolutely some scammy services and sites out there, who just want to get your money in exchange for a list of mystery shopping opportunities, the industry itself is absolutely legitimate - and used by most of the big-name corporations you know to gather insights on their many locations nationwide. There's even a certification process you can participate in, which may boost your chances of being accepted by a mystery shopping provider and then landing more shops. Check to see if a mystery shopping company is a member of the MSPA (Mystery Shopping Professionals Association) before you register: it's a good sign that you've chosen a trustworthy, established service to start your adventure as a secret shopper!
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