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The art of being a secret shopper is, you guessed it, operating in secrecy. Also known as mystery shopping, the industry is designed around a company who needs feedback and looks toward a third-party, independent evaluator for a professional assessment of what works and what does not. Whether it's a product or service, mystery shopping is a valuable tool in helping companies to improve their customer satisfaction and product development.
When you are hired as a mystery shopper, you will either be conducting your evaluation in person, via the telephone or online. If you are hired to assess a physical storefront, you will likely be entering into a store, possibly making a purchase and evaluating customer service. If your assignment involves actually going out and shopping, you will need to dress casually and in a way that you would normally dress for a day of shopping. The basis of secret shopping is to be secretive and to not let others know that they are being evaluated. If you show up in a business suit and look prepared to take notes, there won't be much of a mystery in your mystery shopping excursion. In a nutshell, you should dress according to the assignment. If you are shopping in a retail store, jeans and your favorite shirt will be ideal for casual wear. If you are dining out at a fine restaurant, spice things up with a formal touch.
If you are hired to conduct a mystery shopping evaluation via the internet or over the telephone, your attire will not be important. Instead, your professionalism will come into play greatly as you will be required to ask questions pertaining to your evaluation and in a way that makes you sound like a regular customer. Most companies value customer service and, as such, are looking for ways to improve their policies. If you are placing an order, you will need to determine how fast and convenient the checkout process is, whether or not any aspect was difficult or confusing and how quickly you received your order.
As a secret shopper, whether in person, over the phone or via the internet, you will need to master the combination of professionalism and subtlety. You need to have an eye for detail, which means you will need to be able to notice even the smallest detail that another may miss. Not only that, but you may need to find a way to convey that detail to the company through the form of a written evaluation.
Mystery shopping is designed to promote improvement, recognize achievement and learn from experience. As you become more knowledgeable in the industry and complete more evaluations, you will better realize what a company is looking for and how you can best achieve it. Perhaps you will be evaluating a hotel by staying overnight or a department store by making a small purchase. Whatever your assignment, being a professional mystery shopper can be both fun and financially rewarding. And best of all, you will never find yourself in a work slump when the assignments vary so greatly from one day to the next.
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