Shop to Earn
Do you dream of getting paid for shopping or eating at a fine dine restaurant? If the answer is yes, then mystery shopping is the thing for you. Usually as customers, we evaluate the services of every place we visit and that’s exactly what a mystery shopper does. Saurabh Bhatia in his book, ‘Mystery Shopping - Mock it and fill your pocket’ says mystery shopping is a unique and common tool used by many company companies to gauge their and, at times the competitors service standards and customer experience. Mystery shopping is fun, rewarding, not too time consuming and the assignments are varied.
As a mystery shopper what you need is an ‘eye and mind for detail’. Mystery shopping isn’t as simple as it sounds, as an evaluator you need to bring out the true and unbiased picture and results for further analysis by the businesses.
In order to get the best results, mystery shopping follows a procedure. Saurabh elaborates on this, "Once you have an assignment, you need to go through the company guidelines. At times evaluators are required to take a test to ensure the understanding of the project."
When the company is sure of your credibility, you are sent for an assignment. Saurabh quotes, “The aim of Mystery Shopping is not only to highlight areas of concern but also to bring out and recognize the star performers in the organization. You pose as a regular customer performing the normal tasks such as purchasing a product, making enquires, creating scenarios and complaining or reacting in a particular way.
Tools of the trade:
Like any other business/freelance job, mystery shopping also requires you to have certain tools. From registering with a Mystery Shopping company to applying for shops and then submitting the report you need a computer and an internet connection.
While on evaluations, according to Mystery Shopping - Mock it and fill your pocket, you might need digital camera, voice recorder or a smart phone. All these devices are used to collect proofs. You need to make sure, the use of these isn’t evident when you are out on an assignment. All this work needs to be done discreetly, ensure you have practiced it before doing the actual job.
A few companies also ask proof(s) of your visit; it can be pictures of the place or bills. Make sure to collect these before leaving the place. You might need a scanner to send all these proofs.
Reports are the most crucial part of an assignment. Once you have been to a place, availed the services and made a judgement you need to send a report. Generally the companies have a form which is to be filled; you just need to fill it in a proper manner.
An evaluation can get rejected on the basis of the report you submit. In case you consistently submit poor reports, chances are that you may not be assigned evaluations at all.
However, writing reports isn’t that colossal a task. Saurabh writes, “You might find report writing a time consuming task initially but later you gain momentum. Most of the reports you would fill would have simple objective type questions for which you have to choose Yes/No or other choice based answers. Few questions might ask you to provide feedback or explanation. In order to write a perfect report, understand what the project is about and what its objectives are.”
Dos and Don’ts
There is no rule-book that you need to follow to be a good mystery shopper but you need to be professional. In order to ensure that you do not miss out on any of the evaluations, communicate your travel schedules, availability and proper communication details.
Be sure, you take the calls or reply e-mails in time. If you fail to do so, the company might blacklist you.
When out on an assignment of evaluation, do not ever reveal the purpose of your visit. There are times when the employees on the location might identify you as a mystery shopper. This could be, if you ask obvious and specific questions, stare at the name tags or repeat information. Learn to manipulate and pretend, practice before going out there.
Where can you apply for Mystery Shopping: