What Is It Like to Be a Mystery Shopper?
Ever wondered what it’s like to be a mystery shopper? When I say to people that I work for a mystery shopping company, I am always asked what my job really entails. They are curious to know which places I go to, what the hours are like and the general ins and outs of being an Assessor. I asked some of our core Assessors about their experience of mystery shopping and how they incorporate visits into their daily lives.
Why become a mystery shopper?
‘Before becoming a mystery shopper, I used to travel to various places doing market research. Through talking to other researchers, I discovered it was possible to get into the world of mystery shopping. I have had previous careers in banking and retail, so I thought this would be an ideal job for me.’
‘I’ve always wanted and expected to receive a high level of customer service but was so often disappointed, often by things which would have been so easy to put right. When I had more time on my hands, I realised that by becoming a mystery shopper, I could do something constructive to improve things.’
‘It gives me flexibility and I can choose how much or little work I do, allowing this to fit in with family life and other day to day pressures.’
What sort of skills or experience do you need?
‘You have to be independent and use your own initiative and people skills. You will occasionally have to adapt to tricky situations such as traffic delaying your visit. You must always try to remain calm and focused on the task in hand. The job demands an ability to work alone, making important decisions on the spot, using, and developing your people skills and building up accurate and impartial reporting techniques.’
‘On each assessment always be aware of your mindset and any subconscious prejudice you may have. Even a minor issue like poor weather, an issue at home or a traffic hold up can cause varying degrees of negative thinking which you have to avoid at all costs. Be objective not subjective. Impartiality is the key to a successful report and being a valued and professional Mystery Shopper.’
What is the most interesting assessment you have done for ABa?
‘One of the most exciting was visiting the Isles of Scilly for an assessment and travelling by helicopter. [Other] interesting assessments have been the designer shopping centres…learning about a wide range of business types, clothing, non-food, restaurants, cinemas, and casinos as well as accommodation.'
‘It’s flattering to be asked to carry out pilot assessments for new or prospective clients where a new programme could be based on your initial visits. It’s so gratifying that I know that my report can be used to improve the way that business operates in the future.’
Can you do mystery shopping as a full time job?
‘As a full-time mystery shopper, every day is different. [Mystery shopping] can throw up a variety of challenges which makes the work interesting. As long as I keep to deadlines, I can organise my work schedule as I wish to be able to achieve a good work-life balance.’
‘I choose to work with several different companies and maximise my earnings by completing visits that are located near to one another on the same day. This does take planning as you have to meet the individual deadlines and specific requirements for each visit but with careful planning and organisation, I can make the most out of each day.’
What advice would you give to people interested in mystery shopping?
‘If you don’t know anyone that can recommend a mystery shopping company from their personal experience, do as much research as you can online to find out who is recruiting. See which clients mystery shopper companies work for and ask about the type of assignments available. The better companies will want to meet you before giving you work and several also offer training.’
‘Do your research and work with companies that are easy (and willing!) to communicate with you. The best companies are supportive and fair and will give regular feedback to help you improve your assessment and reporting technique.’
‘Allow enough time to read all the instructions carefully before you complete your assessment, and to write up the report afterwards. Completing a successful assessment is not just the visit itself but preparing well and submitting an accurate and detailed report.’
What made you decide to work with ABa?
‘After applying on multiple websites, I was contacted by ABa and went for an interview which went well. I passed my test assessments and haven’t looked back since.’
‘ABa was recommended to me by a friend, and I have been made to feel a valued and integral part of the business. The Head Office team are supportive, friendly, and always available if I need advice.’
‘With ABa you really do get a family vibe and through the many contacts at the office and at the roadshows that I’ve attended over the years it’s easy to make friendly contacts and connections with the team. I’m working with people I can trust and rely on to help mitigate against any obstacles.’