Most of us love to shop, but did you know you can actually get paid to be a secret shopper? Secret shoppers are also called mystery shoppers and basically what it means is that someone pretends to be a regular customer to determine how good a product or service is that a company or business offers.
What else is there to secret shopping?
There can be a bit of fun to secret shopping. You can think of it as undercover work as you get assignments to go on shopping runs.
A secret shopper’s job is to evaluate certain criteria on their shopping run. Some of these might include how clean the business is and how long it took for them to be waited on or greeted. The secret shopper will also note how fast they received service, the names of the employees and the type of customer service they gave, and other information the company hiring the secret shopper might want.
The secret shopper then reports their findings back to their client. The whole purpose is to evaluate how the product or service can be improved and to find areas that need to be addressed. The benefits of hiring a secret shopper are that a company is able to get a better view of their goods and services through someone who is unbiased. This helps a business figure out how they can improve on performance.
The secret shopper also turns their receipts into the client for reimbursement and as proof of getting the job done and then payment is made back to them at a later date, usually anywhere from 7 days to two months after their mission.
Who uses the services of a secret shopper?
Multiple businesses might use the services of a secret or mystery shopper. They include retail stores, restaurants, movie theaters, auto dealerships, gas stations, hotels, and many other types of business.
Millions of dollars each year are spent on secret shopping services. The reasons are clear. It helps to improve the quality of the business or service, which in turn helps to drive sales. Hiring a secret shopper helps a company to evaluate what’s going on when no one is looking.
Every business wants the good or service they offer to be top-notch. A business understands that customers have other options besides what their company can offer, so by seeing where they can improve their product, they remain ahead of the competition.
While much of secret shopping services are done in person, some are also performed through emails and phone calls. This is one way to evaluate the quality of phone or computer customer service the company offers.
Both types of performance from the perspective of a customer are important to help a business succeed.
Skills needed to be a secret shopper
While most anyone can shop, there are a few skills that are helpful in being a successful secret shopper. Firstly, you need to have a great clarity of focus. You want to be able to zero in on the aspects that clients are concerned about within their company. So a great attention to detail goes a long way in seeing this through.
Then, you’ll want to have a good memory because you’re not going to be able to just jot your findings down in the store or business, which might draw attention to you. You want to be able to blend in, so you’ll have to remember what you discovered, and then record it all later in your notes.
You’ll want to be able to objectively evaluate the business, service, or product you’re investigating because you never know whether the assignments you receive are of a product you have knowledge of beforehand. Even more so, it might not be a product you’ve liked in the past. But, you need to remember you are only there to evaluate the product or service at the time you’re there working as a secret shopper.
Promptness is another skill that you’ll need, both in terms of completing assignments on time to meet required deadlines, as well as answering phone calls and emails for any questions the client might have.
How do you become a secret shopper?
There are many mystery shop companies that specialize in hiring secret shoppers. You do need to be careful because many opportunities that look good are actually spam. The ones we’ve investigated have top reputations, so you should have no problems there.
The question you’ll need to answer to yourself is what your objectives are. If you just want a few extra spending bucks, that’s easy enough to attain. But, if you’re serious, and would perhaps even like to make secret shopping a full-time endeavor, you’ll have to work a bit harder.
In that case, you’ll want to put many more applications out to increase your chances of getting regular assignments. You’ll want to check for openings often, as the best opportunities tend to get snatched up faster.
Once you do get a job, you want to be sure that you follow up and complete it, because if you don’t fulfill your end of the agreement, you will likely be barred from future opportunities with that company.
When you’re first getting established as a secret shopper, as with many things, you sometimes have to work your way up to the companies you’d prefer to work for. Also, some of them will test you by offering you last-minute jobs to test your dedication. So, be prepared for it.
Once you have your jobs and all the details of your assignment, be sure to go over the instructions more than once to be sure you know what you’re in for. You don’t want to miss any steps, because they may try to avoid paying you if you do.
Mystery Shopping Companies
One word of caution before you apply with a mystery shopping company. There are scams and fraud companies out there. No reputable company should require you to pay a fee.
You will also want to be wary of any company that advertises their services or guarantees a set income. To ensure that you are applying through a reputable company, you may want to check out the Mystery Shopper Providers Association.
Once you complete your first job, you may want to sit back for a little while before working for the same company again. It’s just a test you want to do to ensure they are a paying company and own up to their side of the commitment.
You should make a minimum of around $10 to $15 each time you shop, plus reimbursements for any products you buy. Once you receive your reimbursements, you can also consider that you’ve gotten the products free. So, for instance, if your secret shop involves eating a meal at a restaurant, dinner’s on the house so to speak, once you’re reimbursed.
With all that in mind, here are some of the top secret/mystery shopping services out there:
1. Customer Perspectives is considered one of the best secret shopping companies out there. They pride themselves on selecting mystery shoppers who have only the best observation and reporting skills.
They offer a lot of variety in their assignments, ranging from retail shopping to restaurants. To become one of their secret shoppers, register on their page.
2. A Closer Look expects its secret shoppers to pass its Shopper Qualifying Test before they’ll consider you for hire. Their wide scope of customers ranges from retail to medical and wellness to restaurants to hotel and entertainment.
3. BestMark seems to have some of the most reviews out there for secret shopping companies, but the reviews are all over the place and are a mixed bag. The company was featured on Oprah and their BBB rating is a decent 3.9 out of 5 stars.
They seem to cater to not only restaurants and retail stores, but also to casinos, financial institutions, hotels, resorts and more.
4. Market Force is considered to be another one of the top secret shopping companies today and sends workers out in many different industries from hospitality to retail to restaurants.
They also make it easy for you to complete your shopping trips on-the-go from your smart phone or iPad.
5. Sinclair Customer Metrics is another secret shopping company with decent ratings. Their focus of clients seems to center around retail, restaurants, grocery, and convenience stores.
There are other secret and mystery shopping companies out there that will pay you to do shopping reviews. Some of them are GAPbuster, GFK Mystery shopping, Secret Shopper, Experience Exchange, and Intellishop.
There are also some that are considered to be more phone mystery shopping companies and you don’t have to leave your house. Some of those are ARC, Call Center QA, and Perception Strategies.
Each company’s payment strategies are different. In any case, you should be paid by assignment as well as be reimbursed for expenses.
It’s easy to see that you really can make money as a secret shopper. One of the options you may want to consider in addition to these is to build your own website and establish your own secret shopping services. After all, that’s exactly how most of the company’s listed here got their beginnings.
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