How to become a mystery shopper

Companies in the market research sector hire mystery shoppers to visit retail businesses and evaluate the quality of service.

Many directories listing mystery shopping opportunities have been discovered to be scams by charging shoppers to join without providing any work.

To become a mystery shopper, it is important that you follow the below steps and do your research.

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21 Tips for Excellent Retail Customer Service

There are many challenges that come along when working in retail.

Often, it’s the distraction of these challenges that means employees lose focus on providing the best customer service they can to shoppers.

Retail Maxim, a mystery shopping company specialising in retail, has put together a list of simple tips below that can improve your retail customer service!

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Beware of mystery shopping scams

mystery shopping scams

Unfortunately, there are a lot of email scams involving Mystery Shopping assignments. There is no way to prevent these but they should be reported to your local law enforcement agency.

How to spot a scam

  • All emails from us come from addresses ending in @retail-maxim.co.uk. If someone contacts you from a different address, it isn’t us
  • Genuine companies will use a company email address. If someone contacts you from an account with Hotmail or Gmail (or similar) they are unlikely to be a genuine company
  • We only send emails to shoppers who have registered with us. If you didn’t register on our database, we won’t email you
  • We always speak to our shoppers every time that we offer them an assignment
  • We do not pay our shoppers through Western Union, and we never ask them to transfer money with Western Union
  • If you are asked to bank a cheque, it’s likely to be a scam
  • No genuine mystery shopping company would trust someone they don’t know with a large sum of money as an advance. If you are contacted and offered a large payment in advance, this is likely to be a scam
  • If an offer looks too good to be true, it probably will be. Mystery shopping does not normally pay large amounts. If you are offered £100 to conduct a basic enquiry it is very unlikely to be a genuine assignment
  • If you apply for non mystery shopping work on a job site and are then told that the vacancy is filled but there is mystery shopping work available as an alternative, this is likely to be a scam.

Here are a couple of links which give a bit more information on such scams:

http://www.safefromscams.co.uk/MysteryShopperScam.html

http://www.mysteryshoppersmanual.com/category/mystery-shopper-scam (a USA-based site but a lot of the information applies to the UK too)

In the UK, all internet scams/attempted scams should be reported to Action Fraud, the national fraud and internet crime reporting centre:  http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/

Pros of Becoming a Mystery Shopper

Mystery shoppers provide customer service feedback to a business while posing as customers.

A mystery shopper may be asked to visit a hotel, banks, restaurants, cinemas, shops, and other businesses to pose as a regular customer while they are taking mental notes on the location’s cleanliness, staff courtesy, and any other issues that concern the business owner.

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How Mystery Shopping Can Tell You More Than a Customer Survey

Gathering effective feedback about your business can take many forms, including conducting a customer survey.

Although customer surveys are the popular choice for many businesses, mystery shopping is proving to be the more effective option, and here’s why:

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A step-by-step guide to mapping your customer’s journey

A customer journey map is an incredible tool for understanding and improving your customers’ experience.

A good customer journey map will document your customer experience from the customer’s eyes, thus helping you understand how customers interact with you and possibly identify any areas for improvement.

However, you may have difficulty finding a standard customer journey map as there is no standard. You can, however, build it following design principles, or any other visual creations – make a work of art.

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What NOT to Do in Terms of Customer Service

We have obtained some accounts over the years from our mystery shoppers that are quite something.

We’ve listed a few of our favourites scenarios below, showing you what should NOT be done in terms of customer service!

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Become a Mystery Shopper

Are you a fan of shopping? And giving your opinion about shopping experiences? Are you older than 18? Then you are eligible to sign up to be a mystery shopper with Retail Maxim!

We are always seeking honest, unbiased, observant shoppers to join us and make anonymous store visits, and share their findings through the completion of a survey. Local businesses that you are visiting may choose to incorporate some of the feedback for quality control and staff training purposes.

When applying to become a mystery shopper, you will be asked for basic contact details, and the stores you will likely need to visit.

We’ve covered some of the FAQs on mystery shopping and share the required criteria you need to know before you apply!

Mystery Shoppers Can Improve Customer Service

From a study involving a team of over 100 mystery shoppers, it has been noted that customer experiences have been improved through the help of mystery shopping.

But what is a mystery shopper?

Essentially, mystery shoppers go into a predetermined store and will talk to assistants, buy products, and them write up a report about the level of service that was received.

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Mystery shopping uncover ‘basic errors’ at post offices

It has been reported that a recent mystery shopping investigation has uncovered some basic post office errors.

One of said errors includes an enquiry made asking for advice on whether to send items via second class.

The investigation found that although 75% of shoppers believed the service to be sufficient at local post offices, there were a number of ‘inconsistencies’ uncovered.

Staff had correctly recommended that an item should be posted second class in 39% of cases, coupled with almost 1 in 10 shoppers being unable to withdraw their desired amount of money.

Following a number of visits, peaking over 450, shoppers had commented that the queue times were ‘broadly good’, those immediately being in 60% of cases.

The report continued to state that in 97% of cases, accessibility was good or had seen an improvement.

Chief executive of Citizens Advice – those whom the report belongs to – Gillian Guy, said, “Local post offices are crucial to consumers and businesses so these changes are absolutely vital. They have the potential to ensure the sustainability of the network and protect its role at the heart of communities.

While the principles behind the reforms are right, out investigation has uncovered some inconsistencies with service delivery that quickly need to be put right. Post Office Ltd should urgently iron out these problems to ensure the new service works effectively for all consumers.

In response, Mark Davies Post Office spokesman said: “Our modernisation programme is delivering longer opening hours, greater accessibility for customers and a branch network sustainable for the future. These mystery shopper visits to a number branches at the start of the year show waiting times coming down, with 60% of customers service instantly in local branches, and the vast majority of mystery shoppers being satisfied with staff knowledge on the scenarios tested, as well as with the overall experience of their visit.

This tallies with our on-going research based on customer experiences which consistently shows over 95% customer satisfaction with the Post Office Local model.

There is always room for improvement and we will consider as a business what further steps we can take to improve service for customers, but the findings of this research, if not the narrative which accompanies it, shows positive steps forward in one of the largest transformation programmes in Europe.

Mystery shopping can be vital for a business to be able to consider their customer service and analyse what should be changed and identify what they are doing right and wrong. Have you had any good or bad experiences at your local Post Office?