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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!



1. How to Prepare for a Mystery Shop « Welcome to the Mystery Shopping Learning Center Blog - November 6, 2009

[…] 2. If we included information on each and every question in the report, the instructions would be extremely long! The feedback we receive from shoppers indicates that they are generally long enough already – the longer the guidelines, the more information that can be missed. To read about an experiment with shop notes, please read a past post on this topic. […]

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