Written By Amanda Morrissey, Customer Impact Editing Manager
One of the most important parts of a mystery shopper’s job is being anonymous. In most cases, when you are conducting a mystery shop, the idea is to pose as a regular customer and not give the client any idea that you are evaluating them. This can sometimes present some difficulty when you are being asked to remember many details, names, and times for your report. Bringing the form into the establishment is most definitely a no-no, as is taking detailed notes while in view of the staff. I asked a few long-time, successful Customer Impact shoppers how they take notes and remember important, detailed information while they are shopping, all while still being inconspicuous. They gave some great tips!
1. Use your smartphone. These days, it is not unusual for people to have their phones within reach during a trip to the store or a meal at a restaurant. Text yourself important details, or use the timer on the phone to time aspects of the visit. Use abbreviations that you will understand, so as to look like you are just sending short messages and not taking detailed notes. If you are dining, try to avoid picking up the phone every time the server comes to your table, or every time they leave. Be strategic! Do not have your phone in your hand during the entire visit, as this could be a red flag.
2. Use your restroom cleanliness check as an opportunity to make more detailed notes. You can use your phone, or tuck a small notepad and pen in a pocket. Take notes while in a stall, so you are not visible to anyone coming in or out. On a restaurant shop, a good time to do this is just after you order. You will have the names of multiple employees by that point, as well as several timings that can be jotted down. After the meal, you can go back a second time and jot down the rest of the information.
3. Take a trusted companion with you, and ask them for help. If you are completing a restaurant shop with another person, feel free to explain to them what it is you are doing, stressing that you need to be anonymous and that the fact that you are a shopper is confidential. Ask them to remember certain aspects of the visit, while you focus on others. After you have left, you can combine the information for the report. Have your companion describe the food he or she eats to you as well, or if they are willing to share, ask if you can sample their items. Keep in mind that your companion could also be a shopper! You could be paid $15 for referring them to us and getting them started!
4. Use a tape recorder. If you are able to conceal a recorder from whomever you are evaluating, this can be a good tool to help you remember what happened and what is said, as well as keep note of timings. However, be sure that you jot down a few notes as well, just in case there is background noise or other interference with the recording.
5. For a grocery store shop, carry a shopping list. Write a list of items you will be shopping for, just like on a regular shopping trip, and cross off items as you find them. Then also make notes as needed on employee names or any issues you see in the store. Again, this should be inconspicuous, so avoid standing near employees while you are making notes, or writing lengthy information. Abbreviations are great tools!
This is obviously not an exhaustive list of ways to take good notes on a mystery shop. Do you have any foolproof tricks that you use while mystery shopping that you would share with others? We would love to hear them, as we are always looking for ways to make all of our Customer Impact shoppers more successful!
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