One of the most common questions we receive from our shoppers is, “How do I conduct my shops in a manner that keeps my identity as a mystery shopper intact?” It is essential that when conducting a mystery shop you remain “undercover,” as your shop will only be valid if your mystery shop identity remains uncompromised. If the employees you are interacting with know that you are a mystery shopper, it will alter their behavior, and thus your shop report will not be an accurate reflection of your visit.
Below are some of the biggest red flags that will give you away as a mystery shopper:
Taking Photos in an Obvious Manner
In this day and age, taking photos of your food is a widespread occurrence in restaurants. You will be asked to do so, but make sure you are doing it in a way that does not draw attention to yourself. Wait until your server has left the area, only use a flash if you absolutely need to, and hold your device at a low angle.
Writing Notes While in the Establishment
Do not bring your shop report or any paper materials to your visit. This is a dead giveaway that you are a mystery shopper. You may take notes on your phone or even text them to yourself, as being on your phone is not a red flag and is a prevalent practice.
Asking Too Many Specific Questions
You may be asked to obtain specific information while on your shop, such as a product recommendation, a scenario in which you have to pose as someone with a dietary restriction, a question about a specific product, and a plethora of other instances where you will need to ask the employee a question. It’s crucial that these questions do not come across as scripted and that you ask them naturally. Customer service employees are used to answering questions, and you should ask them in a relaxed, effortless manner.
Many shop reports will ask you to track the time you have waited in line, waited for assistance, or for product/service delivery — among other common timing questions. The easiest way to do this is on a wristwatch. You should not bring a timing device, and if you have to use your phone, keep your phone low or in your pocket and out of sight.
Verbally Telling an Employee You Are a Mystery Shopper
This may seem like a no-brainer, but the reality is many of our shoppers have told an employee they are interacting with (especially if they are having a poor experience) that they’re a mystery shopper. Do not talk about your mystery shop assignment with your guest if you happen to have someone with you on your shop.
We successfully conduct thousands of shops each month, and shoppers can conduct these shops and remain covert in doing so. Following these best practices is a great way to keep your mystery shopper identity intact and thus deliver valid, accurate, and useable shop reports to our clients.
For more information on our or to see if our mystery shopping program is right for your business, contact us today!