The thought of being revealed as a mystery shopper brings fear into the hearts of shoppers everywhere. One of the biggest tip-offs you can give a salesperson or store associate that you are a shopper is giving off suspicious clues during your conversation with them. Here are a few tips to follow to help you avoid being spotted as a mystery shopper:
If The Shoe Fits. The story you tell your store associate often can give away big indicators that you are not who you say you are. First and foremost, plan ahead what you will (and will not) say to them. While not every store associate will ask questions, it is very likely that you may also get an associate that wants to make small talk in an effort to be friendly with you. Or perhaps you will get an off-handed comment that you need to respond to. You need to have a strategy in mind before you start talking to the store associate so you don’t blurt out something that makes them suspicious of you.
So before you walk into the shop, get a story in your mind about why exactly you are in the store. It doesn’t need to be (and shouldn’t be) overly complicated. If you are going into a shoe store, maybe you just need some shoes for a new outfit you just bought. If you have to ask a question of someone at the meat counter in the grocery store, ask a simple question such as if they have any fresh chicken in stock.
Short and Simple. Some shoppers have a tendency to over-elaborate while they are talking to the sales associate. For instance, if you are at the meat counter and ask for a fairly unique cut or type of meat, chances are the store associate is going to question it. Are you prepared to tell them what dish you are going to cook with your lamb loin if they happen to make small talk and ask? Or on that shoe shop, if you had said you need some sandals for a trip you are taking, this just begs the question of where you are headed. And can’t you just hear the store associate tell you she JUST got back from there and what hotel are you staying at? The more you chit-chat with the store associate while role playing a scenario you concocted in your head, the more likely you are to get to a point where you haven’t fully thought out all the details.
Do You Fit The Role? Not every actor trying out for a role will be the right fit for it. And not every scenario that pops into your head will be a realistic role for you to play. While there are some middle-aged folks who like to go clubbing, if you are a 40-something that is on a shop for a trendy store that sells clothes for 20-somethings, it may be more realistic for the store associate to hear that you are shopping for a gift for someone rather than looking for an outfit to wear to the new club that just opened. If you need to try something on at the shop, simply say that you are about the same size as the person you are shopping for and what to make sure it will fit. To create a realistic scenario, you need to have a good sense of the image you portray to other people and adopt a role for that. Think about when you would normally enter that type of store in your normal life, and design your story around that.
So before you set foot in your next shop, spend a few minutes thinking about what you need to accomplish in the shop, what image you portray with your own traits, and then design a short but very simple scenario that you can pull off.
All of that makes sense, but in my case, the proof is in the pudding!! I stand out like a sore thumb, being Black, with Locs, and a gray beard. “What’s that guy writing??” I really have to be … under cover, in many of my shops, because the eyes be upon me as soon as I enter the door! Thank you for keeping it real!
at some time lets talk about what shoppers do when the guideline states “do not take notes during shop” and then shop asks you to report the name of the cashier, the bagger, the customer service desk attendant, two associates that greeted or did not greet you and the name of an associate you asked to help find something for you. The name of the person who took your groceries out- now give a description for each one- ht, hair attire etc. And time wait times at counters and in line at register- but do not take notes in the store. Can you do that?
I remenmber seeing a Spencer Gifts shop that had the shopper reporting all the products not displayed or priced or any items dusty, or without batteries and opperable, by description or sku if possible and all info about employees and promotional collateral on counter (could be up to five items) and again DO NOT TAKE NOTES.
Whats your feedback on this?
Sometimes I have to take notes anyway. I have what looks like a shopping list or a small notebook. I think having something like this is VERY NORMAL. You can look like you’re checking off items, or crossing them off, while deep in thought. On the backside of the “list” I may very quickly write a name or description. It can be done very discreetly and look very natural. Shoppers have lists all the time. If you’re “not allowed” to take notes… do it anyway… but only if you can do it quickly & look like a normal shopper. If this is too difficult, do another shop. I did a Bed Bath & Beyond which had an incredible amount of memorization. I was told I would be on video. I took notes anyway… and got paid. However, I will never do another shop for them again. The pay was too low for the amount of time I spent in the store, and filing the report.
I put my roach in my ear and pretend that I am talking to someone on the phone but actually I am talking into the recorder that is in my pocket. My recorder looks just like my cell phone. When I am finished gathering the information that I need I said goodbye. You could also pretend to make a grocery list and send yourself a recorded note.
I just act like I have 10 million things on my mind…I have a small pink daytimer…and I usually fold a piece of 8 1/2 x 11 decorative stationery in half, and use it as a “list”. I “list” the departments and leave spaces under them so I can “list” names, titles, physical descriptions, etc. It justs looks like I have a list of things or a recipe….
Listen everyone. It’s obvious that the threat of video cameras and what-not are put in place to keep you honest. Don’t think too much about what the threats are but instead concentrate on your objective.
You will ALWAYS have to give a description regardless of the circumstances. Yes, I can honestly say that with my 40-something eyesight and the name on the tag being so small I have had to say the name tag was covered up. I still reported what the MS company wanted to hear. The total shop experience with all the details to the best of what I could recall.
Take it for what it’s worth. Report what happened and don’t be too freaked out about every single detail.
BTW you can always call the location after you leave and anonymously ask for “the salesperson in XYZ dept., describe them and get their name that way.
Great information and usefull.Thanks
Great information and useful.Thanks
In 1989 I invested in an Olympus hand held tape recorder for note taking back in the
UK. When I got into MS last year I invested in a updated version and taped over the red ‘on’ button. Placed in a shirt pocket it picks most of the 2 way conversation. Try investing about $40 in an Olympus microcassette recorder from an office supply chain.
Incidently your ‘sponsor’ seems to have difficulty in paying his promised $5. His surveys appear to be enticements to spend more money to other suppliers. Try another revenue source. He is now relegated to my junk mail.
I agree that it is best not to chit chat too much. I keep my “stories” short, simple and truthful. That way I do not need to remember facts that are irrelevant to the shop, and have less chance of getting tripped up.
I had to do one of those amusement park shops, and make 12 stops! It was hectic, and we ran around like crazy! I just called my house after each encounter on my cell, and recorded all the info onto my answering machine… It was there for me when I got home. They wanted me to do several of these, but one was enough. I was reimbursed for my expenses, but the money I made for the shop wasn’t worth the stress…
I heard of recording the conversations and than talking outloud about names and important facts.It is so important,I messsed up on one shop and could not remember the name of the associate and I lost the account because of it. It was a big job and it was my only incident when I did not remember his name and had his information to identify him and who else was working at the time, but that did not satisfy them.
Take notes on a advertisment you bought in from Home Depot and write something near a item that apppears you are circling and near it write the name or info needed, or on your cell there is options of taking notes too, although mine does not, but take the notes like you are texting someone and it in these times,people get text mail all day long so its not odd that a person will see you on the phone doing this. Just remember one slip up and it can lose a good client, and one slip up with the rules they made can cause to lose the client.It really upset me recently and I will learn my lesson on this one…Do what you need if there is multiple names at one site, and you need to remember so many details……