There are few things more stressful for a mystery shopping than realizing in the midst of a site visit that your undercover identity is on the verge of being revealed. Your status as a mystery shopper may be close to being discovered by a customer or by an employee at the site, and either could spell disaster for you. Your first impulse may be for you to run out of the site as soon as possible, but when you do this, you risk the possibility of not getting paid for your assignment if you haven’t fulfilled all of your assignment requirements.
If you want to save your identity and your paycheck, here are a few strategies that may work if you find yourself in this situation:
Create A Diversion. When you find yourself in a situation such as this, one of the best things you can do is to create a distraction of some kind. If you find that your own comments to a customer or employee have created some suspicion, you can easily create a minor distraction simply by picking up your cell phone and pretending you got a text message or a phone call. Thanks to the vibrate mode most phones have these days, you don’t have to worry about the lack of a ringing phone to make this work. Just out of the blue say, “Oh, I’m getting a call. Hold on a second.” Then pick up the phone and walk away from the salesperson, faking a conversation on your end. If necessary, you can fake the conversation to the point of being able to run to your car to get some information for the “person” on the other end of the phone. This can buy you several minutes of distraction time and can remove you entirely from the site. By doing this, you can give yourself the possibility of entering back into the store a few minutes later after you have had time to regroup and plan a strategy for countering any possible suspicions.
Act Confused. If you have ever been in a conversation where you’ve realized that the person you were talking to was talking about an entirely different subject or clearly did not understand what you were saying, you know that it is not a far stretch to fake such a scenario at an opportune time. As soon as you realize that your cover may be blown, put a confused look on your face and then say, “Oh, I’m sorry. I think we aren’t on the same page. I don’t think I’m coming across clearly.” There are breakdowns in communication all the time, and using this strategy can prove to be a lifesaver.
Head to the Bathroom. If you need a moment to regroup, you can take advantage of a few minutes to yourself by hiding out in a bathroom stall. Excuse yourself for a moment, and then head to the privacy of the bathroom where you will have time to think through everything that has happened up to this point in your site visit and plan how you will counteract any suspicions that an employee or customer may have about you. Everyone has to use the facilities from time to time, so this is the perfect place to hide out and take a break right in the middle of your site visit.
If your intuition is telling you that the staff or customers at your site visit are catching on to you, the fact is that you may be just seconds away from losing your paycheck if you cover is blown and your identity is revealed. Take a proactive measure such as following one of the strategies listed here as soon as you are aware of a possible problem, and you just might be able to save your identity and your paycheck after all!