Characteristics of an Advanced Feedback Mystery Shopper
...a trustworthy and professional third party appraiser assigned to evaluate specific aspects of our client's customer interfaces and operations.
Common characteristics and skills of a successful Advanced Feedback mystery shopper:
Detailed and Critical
Good Writing/Communication Skills
Good Organization and Planning
Finally, and most important, a successful mystery shopper understands how a business uses and benefits from mystery shopping.
Beginning with the last and learned trait, you can have all other skills in abundance but if they don't understand how the end-user (our client) uses the service, they're likely to miss the point.
Customer oriented businesses have many choices to gauge or measure their business success: profit & loss analysis, customer surveys, market share, employee retention, etc. In general, they retain mystery shopping services to dig deeper and reveal why those metrics are the way they are.
The most common problem we find with newbie shoppers is that they think the client wants a customer review and then go about conducting their shop as though they were writing one. If the business wanted another customer's opinion they could read online reviews such as Yelp, or better, they could conduct properly weighted customer polls. What they do want and need is an unbiased inspection of their customer interactions, employee conduct, and overall operations from the customer's vantage. In other words, they don't want your opinion (as it's just one) they want an analytical review of what their employees are doing that is creating the customer opinion. There are rare exceptions to this rule. Some clients screen shoppers to precisely meet their target market, invite them as guests, and then ask questions about what they think about their experience. Again. this is rare and difficult to mix with objective observations.
Consider that the end-user might be an owner, a regional manager, a front line manager, a sales manager or HR supervisor, and they want solid factual evidence (as viewed by an undercover customer) of any number of the following:
Operational areas for improvement
Employee service gaps
Missed sales opportunities
Potentially hazardous conditions
Potential employee theft conditions
Potential customer theft conditions
They don't want to know what you think, they want to know what you see and hear. Imagine you're wearing a hidden camera during a typical customer experience. Edit the otherwise long and tedious footage down to a highlight reel covering just those areas the manager is interested in and THAT'S what the client wants. If you can capture that in words, you'll be a sought after and a high valued mystery shopper, indeed! Or imagine you're the HR manager tasked with an employee performance review. Would you rather use a subjective report with what someone thinks they saw or an objective report that documents the employee's actual behavior, both good and bad?
Now that you understand why you're mystery shopping, the rest of the characteristics of a good mystery shopper need little explanation:
Observant - Able to focus on your interactions and those around you. Knowing the shop requirements and planning will increase awareness of what to look for, and you will improve with experience.
Objective - Just the facts. It's not what you think, it's what you see and hear. Don't write "I think the cashier was taking money from the register between transaction", rather you would state "the register was not fully closed between the transactions, the sale prior to mine and my purchase"
Detailed and Critical - A discerning eye, not just for service gaps but for top performances too. "The hostess greeted us nicely," is not detailed, but this is: "Upon approaching the host stand, Ariel made eye contact with me and my husband and said with a smile 'Good evening, welcome to Fred's, do you have dining reservations this evening?'" Likewise, "The restroom needed attention," is not critical, instead, "There were paper towels on counter, water behind the sink, stains on the mirror, the toilet paper was down to a few turns in the second stall from the entry, the wastebasket was overfull, the urinal did not have a deodorizer and was not draining properly," is better and critical.
Thorough - A tendency to review all instructions, complete all questions, and cover all basis during an assignment. You can remind yourself to be thorough but most likely you either are or you're not.
Good Memory - Goes without saying. There is a lot of detail to capture during a mystery shop. Modern technology has many tools to aid memory, such as smart phone photos, notes, and voice recording.
Good Writing and Communication Skills - If you struggle to compose proper sentences and thoughts, your reports may take too long to prepare, lack salient observations, and present problems for our editor. Mystery shopping may not be your thing.
Good Organization and Planning. Practiced continuously, planning and proper organization will assist all other mystery shopping characteristics and requirements. After all, this is work.