When you’re just starting out as a mystery shopper, the mystery shopping world can seem confusing, mysterious, and even solitary. Each assignment you complete seems far different than the previous assignments you’ve done. You run into issues with schedulers, questions on reports, and even issues on site that could have been handled far differently for a better outcome. Yet as a new mystery shopper, you have a steep learning curve and very few sources of outside information to learn from.
Even seasoned mystery shoppers find that each assignment brings new circumstances and challenges. Whether you are a new mystery shopper or an experienced mystery shopper, you can benefit in a number of ways from communicating with other mystery shoppers in on-line communities or forums as well as help out other mystery shoppers.
There Are No Bad Questions. Whether you have a question about how to properly answer a report question given certain circumstances or how to handle a difficult scheduler, you can find dozens or even hundreds of unique answers to your questions, often representing decades of combined experience in the industry.
What’s more, when you post a question, you give other mystery shoppers the advice and insight into handling that same issue if they run into it on their assignments. Even if other mystery shoppers haven’t yet experienced that challenge, if and when that issue arises on their assignment, they will recall your post on the forum and be better able to handle the issue. Participating in forums helps everyone involved.
Banding Together. Unlike many industries, mystery shoppers don’t have a union that looks out for their interests, pay, and so forth. The only real way to effect change in mystery shopping is for mystery shoppers to band together. With the industry so loosely tied together and mystery shoppers largely working on their own for each assignment, the main method for mystery shoppers to communicate about key industry issues is on forums.
Mystery shopping forums have been used to let other mystery shoppers know about poor-performing mystery shopping providers, such as those that reduce pay for little to now reason, those that pay far slower than normal, and those that are difficult to deal with. Forums have also been used to discuss specific retailers that mystery shoppers have had a difficult time working with, such as those retailers with incredibly difficult requirements or excessively long reports. Mystery shoppers have banded together against low pay to effect a higher overall pay scale. (This effort unfortunately has largely unwound due to the recession and the need for many mystery shoppers to pick up any cash they can, even lower paying assignments. However, as the economy picks back up, you can expect mystery shoppers to once again unite against low-paying assignments.)
At the very least, you can grow as a mystery shopper by reading the forum postings regularly. You will get even more out of forums by actively participating in mystery shopping forums by posting your own questions and responding to other mystery shopper’s posts. So dedicate some time each work to spend time with your fellow mystery shoppers on the industry forums!