By Barbry Booth, Customer Impact Senior Scheduler

It could happen to you. You’ve completed a shop, submitted your report, and possibly even have been paid for your shop. Then the mystery shopping company contacts you with the dreaded news from their client – you’ve been spotted! Your cover has been blown and the client says they know who the shopper was. I’ve seen this happen many times of the course of the years. Sometimes the client is incorrect and they didn’t end up identifying the shopper, but most of the time, the client has them pegged. When this happens, the client asks that the shopper not be sent back to that particular location or even possibly not be used at all for any of their shops.

So how do you keep from being spotted as the shopper? Here are just a few tips:

  •  ACT NORMAL. “The shopper was acting suspicious.” You aren’t James Bond 007 or Jason Bourne. You are to pose as a normal customer and act the way a normal customer would act. If your shop requires that you ask an employee a question, just ask it as if you were out shopping on your own, not on a shop.
  • DON’T BRING UNNEEDED ATTENTION TO YOURSELF. “The shopper arrived for dinner wearing Bermuda shorts and a cut off t-shirt.” Dress appropriately for the type of shop you are doing. If you’re doing a shop at a sporting goods store, don’t show up in a suit and tie, and if you’re doing a fine dining shop, don’t arrive dressed in your best jogging suit. If you’re ever not sure, ask your scheduler! He or she will be happy to advise you on how to blend in according to the type of shop you’re completing.
  • NO FORMS. “We saw your shopper filling out a report at the table.” Busted. Lots of shoppers print out their guidelines and form and bring it along with them in the car. This is great, so that when you leave the shop, you can jot down any notes while they are fresh in your head. However, you should not bring any type of printed information about the shop into the location you are shopping. Leave those in the car! If you want to take notes while at the location, take a few notes on your phone. Some shoppers even send themselves a text message with notes, so it appears they are texting someone. Just don’t go overboard and spend the entire shop texting!
  • KEEP YOUR PURPOSE QUIET. “The shopper told the manager he was being shopped and that he was doing a great job so far.” Unless you are assigned to do a reveal shop, do not tell anyone at the location you are shopping that you are a mystery shopper. Remember, you’re acting like a normal customer. That’s your story and you’re sticking to it!

Have you ever been told a client spotted you as the mystery shopper? What caused them to spot you? What other tips do you have to help others keep from blowing their cover?



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