Perhaps you have heard of mystery shopping, but maybe you're not sure exactly what it is? The phrase certainly conjures up some exciting ideas, and anything which has the word 'mystery' in the job title has a certain amount of appeal. In fact, if you would like to be a mystery shopper yourself then you can certainly do so. Effectively, your job would be to get paid to go shopping - sounds ideal doesn't it?
Mystery shopping is a marketing tool used to establish the quality of service and compliance to policy for a particular company. It is often very hard to gauge a company's performance from the point of view of the customer. Statistics and feedback can provide certain information, but since almost every company is providing a service to customers, being able to establish how effective that service is from the point of view of a customer is not easy. As soon as a manager starts ambling around the shop floor listening in on conversations or making observations, the standard of practice is almost certainly going to rise.
Mystery shopping provides a way in which companies can have their performance independently reviewed and assessed without it being obvious to its employees in any way. In this way, the assessment takes place in a natural situation that takes a genuine snapshot impression of the service offered. Getting feedback from customers can be helpful, but the customers themselves can only really give feedback based on a sketchy understanding of the company's policies, and they won't remember details which might very well prove to be essential.
Mystery shoppers are well prepared, and know well in advance exactly what they need to be looking for. In some cases the shopper is given a scenario, so that they have to test the company against certain specific criteria. Of course, every effort has to be made by the mystery shopper to come across as entirely genuine so that employees don't guess what they are doing, and start behaving differently. It is for this reason that often mystery shopper companies employ every day volunteers from the public who have a particular interest in a certain range of products or shops, and can go in with a genuine appearance and attitude.
Usually the shopper will have a questionnaire or survey to complete afterwards, and this information will be sent through to the marketing and management departments to assess how the company did. It could be that they want to test the product knowledge of the employees, or how effectively they sold the product. It could be focussing on the manner and politeness of staff or of how well they kept to company policies. All of this information will be tested and noted by the mystery shopper, and sent off for review. This allows the company to have a genuine assessment of their performance from a customer's point of view, and allows them to assess whether more training is required, a change of policy or just feedback to staff.
You can find a wealth of mystery shopper organisation to register with online, and if selected you will be given a target shop or company which may require you paying a visit in person, making a telephone call or just ordering online. You may be required to actually buy a product, although this won't always be the case. If you do have to buy something, you will be given the money back afterwards. Once you submit your assessment or survey you'll then also be paid. In some cases you may even be lucky enough to be chosen to assess a restaurant - in which case you'll get paid for eating out! It's a very popular industry for so many reasons.