Basic Training Level 1
Characteristics and Skills of a Successful Mystery Shopper
A mystery shopper is a trustworthy and professional third party appraiser assigned toevaluate specific aspects of our clients’ operations.
Why Mystery Shopping?
As a potential mystery shopper, it is important to understand why clients use this service.
Customer oriented businesses have many choices to gauge or measure their businesssuccess: profit & loss analysis, customer surveys, market share, employee retention, etc.In general, they retain mystery shopping services to dig deeper and reveal why thosemetrics are the way they are.
The most common problem we find with new shoppers is that they think the client wantsa customer review and then go about conducting their shop as though they were writingone. If the business wanted another customer’s opinion they could read online reviewssuch as Yelp, or better, they could conduct properly weighted customer polls.
What clients 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 DO NOT want your opinion (unless specifically asked). They wantan analytical review of what their employees aredoing and how they are interacting withcustomers.
Consider that the end–user might be an owner, a regional manager, a front line manager, asales manager or HR supervisor. They want solid factual evidence (as viewed by anundercover customer) of any number of the following:
- Operational areas for improvement
- Employee service gaps
- Missed sales opportunities
- Unkempt/clean conditions
- 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 theotherwise long and tedious footage down to a highlight reel covering just those areas themanager isinterested in and THAT is what the client wants. If you can capture that inwords, you’ll be a sought after and a highly valued mystery shopper. Or, imagine you’re the HR manager tasked with an employee performance review. Would you rather use asubjective report with what someone thinks he/she saw or an objective report thatdocuments the employee’s actual behavior, both good and bad?
Now that you understand why you’re mystery shopping, the rest of the characteristics of agood mystery shopper needs a little explanation:
Mystery Shopper Skills and Characteristics
Observant– Able to focus on your interactions and those around you. Knowing the shoprequirements will increase awareness of what to look for, and you will improve withexperience.
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, youwould state, “The register was not fully closed between the transaction prior tomine andmy purchase.”
Detailed and Critical– A discerning eye, not just for service gaps but for topperformances too. “The hostess greeted us nicely,” is not detailed, but this is: “Uponapproaching the host stand, Ariel made eye contact with me and my husband and saidwith a smile, ‘Good evening, welcome to Fred’s, do you have dining reservations thisevening?'” Likewise, “The restroom needed attention,” is not critical. Instead, “Therewere paper towels on counter, water behind the sink, stains on the mirror, the toilet paperwas 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 allbases during an assignment. This is extremely important.
Good Memory– Goes without saying. There is a lot of detail to capture during a mysteryshop. Modern technology has many tools to aid memory, such as smart phone photos,notes, and voice recording. They are not a replacement for a good memory.
Good Writing and Communication Skills– If you struggle to compose proper sentencesand thoughts, your reports may take too long to prepare, lack proper observations, andpresent problems for our editor. If don’t consider yourself a strong writer/communicator,you probably shouldn’t be a mystery shopper.
Good Organization and Planning– Practiced continuously, planning and organizing willgreatly assist you in your mystery shops and reports.
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