Many times on a shop assignment you will be required to get information that may seem simple enough to get, but may end up being more difficult than you might think. For example, while some shop requirements are satisfied by getting a simple description of the employee who helps you, other shop requirements will not pay you if you fail to get the employee’s name. Even this seems easy until you get to the shop and their name tag is turned around, or they are simply not wearing a name tag. Now you are in the predicament of asking for information that may put the idea in the employee’s head that you are a mystery shopper.
Or perhaps you are required to get information on the store’s promotions and sales. This information may be a little easier to get, as some other shoppers may inquire about this as well without seeming suspicious. However, even getting this information requires some tact and care on your part to avoid suspicion. If you are looking at the shoes and ask about promos in the lingerie department, that may seem a little odd and get the wheels turning in the salesperson’s head.
So what should you do? Before you set foot in the shop location, run through the shop scenario in your head and try to think about possible issues that may arise. If the employee’s name tag is turned around, can you simply ask them to turn it over? Or will you just keep your eyes trained on the name tag in hopes that you can catch a glimpse of it as the salesperson moves around? These are probably not the best ideas. If you need to get information about promos for the entire store, should you ask about the promos as you are checking out? This may seem a bit more suspicious than asking about them as you enter the store.
Think of creative ways to approach each scenario. If you are shopping with an older child, you can simply ask the child to ask their name as children tend to inquire these things on a regular basis. If the employee answers the phone, listen to their greeting, “Hi, thanks for calling ABC Store. This is Sam.” Or try the old stand-by of, “You look awfully familiar. What’s your name?” When you try this one, you may want to elaborate a bit and continue the conversation after you get the name to keep from looking too suspicious, such as “Did you work at XYZ store before you worked here?”
For promos and product information, be sure you are in the correct department in the store, looking at the appropriate merchandise to correspond with your question. You may even want to have a story planned out ahead of time. For instance, if you are doing a shop where you have to try on running shoes and your appearance doesn’t present you as an avid runner, have a story that you are joining a gym or a training program. If you are doing a shop for a mini-van but are single with no children and arrive at the dealership in a two-seater car, this may seem suspicious. However, as a mystery shopper you can play any role you want or need to, provided you have a good story worked up ahead of time. So Ms. Single with No Kids has just turned into a mother of four who crams all her kids into a compact sedan and needs more space. Her regular car broke down, and she’s borrowed her neighbor’s car for the day. Oh, and the kids are at home with dad right now. Most salespeople will use your story as a basis for asking leading questions to try to lure you into the sale, so know your story or think fast on your toes. Know how old your “kids” are and their names, or know which gym you are joining and be enthusiastic about your decision to start running.
Whenever possible, it’s best to plan your story ahead of time, and think of possible ways around getting information. But when that fails, you need to think fast on your feet and come up with a story, or otherwise reformulate another plan in one of the private areas in the store, such as the bathroom or fitting room. Once you have a new plan of action, head back out to the main area of the store and complete your shop.