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An Experiment with Mystery Shopping Instructions January 29, 2009

Posted by Ann Michaels & Associates in Uncategorized.
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When preparing for a mystery shop, you are usually provided with written instructions and/or guidelines for the specific shop. Sometimes they can span many pages, depending on how detailed the shop is. Do you read through the entire guide?

Most would say yes (and do it), and others would claim to, but maybe skim through some of it. The point of the instructions is to give you detailed needed to answer the questions on the mystery shopping report. Reading through them prior to the shop, and then using them as a guide when you are completed the report will bring you the most success. You’d be surprised with the fact that some mystery shoppers don’t do this, and then they are surprised when a company cannot use their shop.

A mystery shopping company did a small experiment many years ago that I remembered recently and wanted to share. A client had a small number of shops to complete for a project. When creating the guidelines, they decided to do an experiment…..at the end of the shop instructions, in a separate line of text, they wrote:

“If you are reading this, please contact your scheduler to let him/her know. You will receive a $5.00 bonus for this shop.”

Turns out, less than half of the shoppers received a bonus.

That is startling – companies rely on these guidelines to provide all the information a mystery shopper will need to properly perform a shop. Typically, we try to put the most important information at the beginning, with detailed clarification of specific issues afterward for reference. Yes, they can be long, and some of the instructions might seem tedious or bordering on ridiculous (“when doing the video shop, if you put your backpack down at any time, make sure it’s right side up when you pick it up again – the client does not enjoy standing on their head to watch videos, nor do we” or “you must have a car to perform this oil change shop”), but those details are usually added because someone has done something to warrant this addition.

The challenge is making sure all of the details are included without becoming overwhelming to the mystery shopper. Therefore, we strive to provide checklist type instructions for easy reference, instructions with links for you to be able to jump to the appropriate section easily as you’re writing your report, and other time saving methods.

Preparing for mystery shops can take some time, and we appreciate your time in making each program a success! Reading through all documents prior to the shop will ensure that you perform the shop correctly, evaluate and record all of the necessary details, and submit a stellar report!

Until next time…happy shopping!

Mystery Shopper Referral Programs – Do You Participate in Them? January 28, 2009

Posted by Ann Michaels & Associates in Uncategorized.
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There have been times when companies have shops in a remote location, and will try shopper referral programs. In our experience (I can only speak for Ann Michaels & Associates), these are not successful. I’ve always wondered the reason that shoppers are hesitant to offer shopper referrals – is it because they want to keep their work anonymous, are afraid that there will be more competition and therefore less work, or is there another reason?

When companies are asking for referrals, it usually means that they are tapped out in the area for mystery shoppers which are desperately needed. We’ve tried all of the standard procedures – posting on forms and job boards, emailing our databases, etc. with no luck.

If shoppers are not offering referrals because they fear a decrease in work, we can reassure you that this is not the case. Mystery shopping companies need to rotate shoppers, and sometimes if you complete a shop once, you cannot return for one to six months (sometimes more). If you refer someone who successfully completes a shop, not only does that help us as a company, but it helps you, because we will always remember that you helped us out in a pinch. As soon as you are able to complete another shop, you will be the first we contact. Also, as companies gain new accounts in your area, you will be at the top of their list to do these new shops.

Shopper referral programs can be helpful to companies and shoppers alike. Sometimes there is a monetary reward for shoppers who refer others who in turn successfully complete a shop. Sometimes the reward lies in being at the top of a company’s list for new/existing shops.

Please feel free to share your experiences with referral programs, and your reasons for not participating if you typically don’t. This will serve as a good learning experience for all of us!

Until next time…happy shopping!

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