Mystery Shopping tips & helpful hints on how to become an effective and efficient mystery shopper.

Before Your Shop – Preparation

  • Prepare yourself!

    Review both the guidelines and the blank report thoroughly, so you know what to look for. Some shops also require that you call our office to review the assignment with our staff. Please be sure to call during business hours, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Central Time. If you call too late or wait until the last minute, you may not be able to review the assignment properly.

  • Keep your contact information in your shop log current.

    Check that your telephone numbers and email address are correct so that we have the appropriate information to contact you. If you know in advance that you will not be available at your usual contacts, please let us know. We can then either edit the shop more quickly or request an alternate way of reaching you if follow-up is needed. Remember that if we need additional information and are not able to get in touch with you, this can affect whether or not the shop is accepted.

  • If you have any questions on any portion of an assignment (dates, requirements, etc.) PLEASE ASK!

    We are here to help you and to make sure that you have the tools to complete your assignment properly. Please do not hesitate to call our office or email us. There is no such thing as a silly question if it helps you understand the assignment more fully.

  • Once you accept an assignment, you must complete it as scheduled.

    Accepting an assignment and then not completing as scheduled it could result in your account being deactivated. If you find that you have accepted a shop and will not be able to complete it, contact your scheduler IMMEDIATELY. Depending on the assignment, it may be possible for the dates to be extended. The sooner you contact your scheduler, the more likely it is that we can work with you, and you will maintain a positive record with the company. Communication is key, so do not be afraid to contact us if there is a problem.

During Your Shop – Details

  • When taking notes ( i.e. times and names):

    Pretend to make a telephone call and leave a message for yourself at home.

    Go to the restroom and write down notes

    Bring a crossword puzzle and write notes in the spaces. (Please do not do this for fine dining assignments. This is only for fast food or casual shops.)

    Put a tape recorder in your jacket or purse.

    Send a quick text message to your partner, or have your partner send you a message.

    If you have a smart phone, you can discreetly use it to take notes.

    Keep in mind that handwritten notes should never be taken in view of the staff, nor should the form ever be brought inside while you are completing your assignment.

  • As soon as you get to the parking lot, sit in the car and write down everything you can.

    If possible, print the report ahead of time and fill it out in your car, while the information is fresh in your mind. Remember that this should be done away from the restaurant, where you are not in view of the staff at all. If anyone in the restaurant or store sees you with the form, the shop will be void.

  • The most important thing to remember in almost all cases is NAMES.

    You must know the names of the people you encounter or have very good descriptions of them. Employees cannot be rewarded for good work if we do not mention who they were. When describing the employee, follow this format: race, gender, approximate age, height, hair color and style, and any distinguishing characteristics, such as glasses, a beard, a mustache, etc. Do not mention weight or body build. You can get names from employees’ name tags or from your check, or you can ask another employee. If you feel comfortable, you can even ask the employee’s name in conversation, but please be subtle.

  • If your assignment information indicates the number of guests required, please do not deviate from that number in any way.

    A shop for one guest is just that – for one person only. Many restaurant shops are for two adults only, and children may not accompany you. Please do not try to bring extra guests, meet people at the restaurant and ask for separate checks, or bring your children on a shop that specifically asks that adults only be present. If our client informs us that we have submitted false information about the number of guests, this will affect your future with our company. If there is an extenuating circumstance, please contact your scheduler BEFORE completing the assignment to see if there is any flexibility.

  • Watch everything around you.

    Are all guests getting good service, or just you? Are all guests paying for their drinks, or just you? How is the atmosphere? Are people having fun? Did you notice that six tables have dirty plates stacked up on them? Are servers and/or bartenders hiding in the corners or chatting with each other? Is the music appropriate? These are all important observations to make.

  • Remember that your comments are the most important part of the evaluation.

    Make sure your narrative matches your answers to the questions in the evaluation and is clear, concise and objective. State facts, not opinions. Our job is to provide factual information for the clients, who will draw their own conclusions and make their own decisions. If you are not sure about an incident and cannot provide details, do not mention it. We must be able to back up what we report.

  • Remember that many locations now have video surveillance, and they are able to go back and review video of your visit.

    This makes accuracy even more crucial, as if the client sees things that do not match with what is reported, we cannot pay you for the shop.

  • On a restaurant shop, do not order the same food items as your partner.

    We send two shoppers so we can evaluate more food. If you shop one location several times, do not order the same items each time you go.

  • Order all of the required items.

    If your assignment is to order two items each, please do so, even if you are full. Also DO NOT order food to go. Remember also that if you order more food or beverage items than are called for in the guidelines, do so with the understanding that you will not be reimbursed for the additional expenditures, and that our client may choose not to accept the report. Please stick to the ordering guidelines you are given.

  • Please remember that you are representing the mystery shopping company.

    Be polite and professional at all times, even if it is the worst experience you have ever had. Remember that your factual, objective report will clearly tell our client how poor the experience was, without any attention being drawn to this at the time of your visit. Please do not call the restaurant to complain after a poor visit. Rest assured that the management will see your report and use that to correct the problem.

  • Do not, under any circumstances, post any information about a mystery shop on any type of social media platform (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc.).

    Remember that any information you gather during a mystery shop assignment is confidential, at all times. Sharing information on other sites is considered a breach of your independent contractor agreement.

  • Above all, be discreet and maintain a low profile. Try to avoid drawing undue attention to yourself by complaining to the management, asking tons of questions, or creating problems with the service. If you receive a meal that is inedible, then it is fine for you to send it back, provided that you handle the issue politely, and you explain the issue in the narrative and describe how it was handled. Remember, once you are spotted or identified as a shopper, we can no longer use you. If a guest joins you, they must also be fully aware of the importance of not being recognized and of confidentiality. Your guest does not necessarily need to know all of the specifics of the assignment, but should understand the ordering requirements that need to be followed and that being inconspicuous is of the greatest importance.

After Your Shop – Reporting Your Visit

  • At Customer Impact, a sample report is always provided for each shop you do.

    Make sure your report resembles the sample in format, length, and detail. Plagiarism of the sample will not be tolerated and will jeopardize your future with Customer Impact. Your comments should also never parrot the sample directly, word for word. All visits are unique, and our client expects unique reports as well.

  • If you take off points or mark “No” for a question, you must put a comment to address that in the appropriate comment section.

    For example, if you mark “No” for the question, “Did the hostess address you by name?” then we need a specific statement in your comments that says, “The hostess did not address me by name.” The comments need to be direct, not implied, as the client expects an explanation for any area where they are marked down.

  • When your report has been submitted, be sure that it shows a status of “Completed” in your shop log.

    If it says “Incomplete,” then we have not received your report, either because a piece of information is missing or because the wrong option was chosen when you submitted. If you do not hear from us with your shop grade or follow up questions within 5 days of your shop submission, please check your log to be sure the report was received.

  • Remember that almost all reports are due within 24 hours of shop completion, and some within 12 hours.

    Please be sure to submit your work on time. We understand that there are sometimes circumstances beyond your control, so if you are aware that you might not be able to submit your report on time, please contact your scheduler or the editing department as soon as possible. We will not penalize you if we know there is a reason why the report is late. Keep in mind that all reports must be sent to the client within a week of the shop completion, so anything submitted past that date will unfortunately not be usable.

  • After submitting your report, please be available by both phone and email in case additional information is needed.

    In most cases, the report will be edited within two to four days of it being submitted, and if additional information is required, the editor will contact you. If we cannot reach you by either phone or email, we may not be able to use the report, which also means that you will not be paid or reimbursed for the assignment. Responding to requests for additional information in a timely manner is appreciated. If you are unsure about any request for additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us to clarify.

  • Before submitting your report to us, read it again as if you were the owner. Ask yourself:

    Did I highlight at least one thing that will be helpful?

    Does the report touch on both positive and negative items?

    Is all the information clearly stated, in an objective and factual manner?

    Does the commentary match the evaluation scores?

    Did I comment on all questions that I answered “No”?

    Did I proofread the comments and spell check them?

    Did I send the correct receipt, with my name and the tip amount (if applicable) written on it?