Having your identity as a mystery shopper revealed during a site visit can be a nightmare. This worst-case scenario happens rarely, but it CAN happen to you. There are a number of things that you may do that can cause you to unknowingly reveal your true identity to the store’s staff or management.
Keep It Cool. When you walk into a store posing as a regular shopping but carrying with a secret agenda, you can feel like you have a giant bullseye painted on your forward. When paranoia sets in, you may start acting suspicious without the intention of doing so. First, understand that as long as you are seen outwardly as a regular shopper, your identity as a mystery shopper likely will not become known to others. So take a deep breath and try to blend in as much as possible with the other shoppers. If necessary, remind yourself of how you act when you are a “regular” shopper and adopt your normal shopping mannerisms.
Don’t Go Crazy With Your Cover Story. Some assignments may require you to take on a cover story to properly complete the assignment. For instance, if you have an assignment to test drive a car, you may simply have to pretend to be in the market for a new car. Even a story as simple as this can be blown wide open if you blurt out, “I love the car I have right now.” The next question would be a suspicious, “Then why are you looking at a new car now?”
Sometimes mystery shoppers develop overly elaborate cover stories. As with any other little lies you may tell, the more you lie the bigger the web you weave. Sales staff are trained to communicate with you and to uncover your intentions for your purchase. Their goal in asking questions is to find your trigger to purchase and close the sale. However, by asking the questions they have been trained to, they can punch holes in your cover story if you aren’t careful. The more complex your cover story is, the harder it will be for you to stick with your cover story and not raise the suspicions of the sales staff.
Map It Out. Even when you aren’t communicating directly with the sales staff, your actions can still raise eyebrows. If you are intently studying the shoe sizes on a shelf for an extended period of time, or if you are walking systematically up and down every single aisle in a store, you can become noticed by the store’s staff if this is not the habit of a “regular” customer. Before you enter a store, think about how you can accomplish the assignment requirements in a way that will not make you stand out from the crowd. Devise your plan in your head before you start “shopping” so you can meet your assignment requirements without becoming the focus of unwanted attention by the store’s staff.
Keep these items in mind on your future mystery shopping site visits to avoid being revealed as a mystery shopper!