Thinking of Becoming a Mystery Shopper: dispelling the myths

Thinking of Becoming a Mystery Shopper: dispelling the myths

Mystery Shopping is often portrayed in the media as an exciting undercover mission, or a quick way to earn extra cash, but in reality, it is a professional service utilised by many different businesses to evaluate the quality and consistency of their services. And, although Mystery Shopping does offer opportunities for people to earn money while providing valuable feedback, there are misconceptions surrounding the industry.

Myth: Mystery Shopping Guarantees Free Products or Services

Mystery Shopping is about providing feedback to businesses rather than receiving freebies. Whether you need to make (and keep) a purchase as part of your assignment will depend upon the specific customer mission you are being asked to complete. Some projects require a necessary purchase, whereas others may require a first-line enquiry only, or it may be that you are required to return your purchase to provide feedback on the returns process. Make sure you take time to read the requirements for each assignment and do not assume that a purchase is always needed.

At ABa, we work in partnership with our clients to determine if a purchase is a necessary part of the assignment and provide clear instructions to our Mystery Shoppers regarding purchase reimbursement and any next steps (e.g. return to store).

Myth: Mystery Shopping is a Get-Rich-Quick Scheme

Mystery Shopping is not a guaranteed way to get rich quickly. Financial recompense does vary, with each Mystery Shopping company setting their own payment structure. Some companies will offer a contribution to towards a purchase or cover the cost of the purchase in full, some will pay a fee for your time, and some will do both.

At ABa, we don’t believe it is enough to simply offer a token gesture of recompense, but instead we consider both time and expenses as part of the payment equation. (To find out more, read our Director of CX’s article on Social Responsibility and Mystery Shopping)

One of the many benefits of Mystery Shopping is its flexibility. Mystery Shoppers can choose which assignments they accept, and control both the frequency and volume of work allowing them to flex this around other commitments such as employment or family responsibilities. This flexibility makes Mystery Shopping an attractive option for those seeking a supplementary income, wishing to work part-time or pursue a full-time career as a Mystery Shopper.

We recommend registering with several different Mystery Shopping companies, allowing you the opportunity to maximise your earning potential. Through careful diary management – and whilst still adhering to individual project deadlines – you can pick up several different project assignments from several companies in the same location.

Myth: Mystery Shopping is a scam

Unfortunately, we do know that this industry is not immune to scams but understanding the facts vs. the fiction can help you make informed decisions about whether Mystery Shopping, or even specific assignments, are right for you. With the right skills, mindset, and commitment to providing accurate and constructive feedback, Mystery Shopping can be a rewarding endeavour. To ensure you engage with legitimate Mystery Shopping companies, we recommend using the Mystery Shopping Professional Association website, and also read their advice on how to spot and avoid any illegitimate companies or offers of work

Myth: Mystery Shopping is all About Fault Finding

We will often receive applications from prospective Mystery Shoppers celebrating their ‘pickiness’ and ‘ability to focus on what is wrong’. However, these are not desirable traits for professional Mystery Shoppers.

The key characteristic of all Mystery Shoppers is the ability to remain impartial and provide analytical and unbiased feedback. It’s not about finding fault but providing a detailed overview of your experience. Mystery Shopping should not be seen as a negative tool, but as a feedback mechanism that shines a spotlight on great service, rewards and recognises colleagues who ‘do it right’ and provides constructive feedback on how to improve the customer experience.

As part of the ABa recruitment process, we will take you through a short training session where we cover the key skills and behaviours we expect from our Mystery Shoppers. We also provide regular verbal and written feedback to ensure both fairness and consistency in technique in every assignment.

Myth: We know our Mystery Shopper, it is always the same (type of) person

We often hear that colleagues believe they have spotted the Mystery Shopper, as there is an erroneous belief the Mystery Shopper is a stay-at-home parent picking up visits in between the school run. In fact, Mystery Shoppers come from all walks of life which allows Mystery Shopping companies to use the most suitable demographic for each individual business.

At ABa, we have a wide range of Mystery Shopper profiles, and we take the time to know our team, so that we can be sure you fit our client’s desired customer demographic – not just your profile on paper, but your suitability in each different environment.

So, what do we look for in our Mystery Shoppers?

Although there is no specialised training or qualifications required to become a Mystery Shopper, not everyone is suited to the role. Effective Mystery Shoppers have excellent verbal and written communication skills, can follow instructions meticulously, are reliable, pragmatic, and are able to blend in with their surroundings. The most successful Mystery Shoppers possess keen observation skills and have excellent organisation and time management skills, allowing them to effectively manage individual project requirements and deadlines.

At ABa, we work hard to create long-lasting, professional, rewarding relationships with our Mystery Shoppers, offering support in-the field, and working together to provide accurate, insightful, and detailed reports that allow businesses to fully understand and improve their customer experience.

If you are interested in finding out more about becoming an ABa Mystery Shopper, you’ll find more information and our application form here