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Mystery Shopping and Children November 24, 2009

Posted by Ann Michaels & Associates in Uncategorized.
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Mystery shoppers come from all walks of life, including moms with young children. One question that is asked frequently is if children are allowed to accompany you on a shop.

In some cases, it is necessary, especially if you’re shopping a children’s clothing store where the fitting room needs to be evaluated, or an amusement park or similar venue.

In other cases, what is the rule? Are kids allowed or not?

Most times mystery shopping companies will specify in the shop posting whether or not children are allowed. If it doesn’t specify, and you are interested in the shop, it is best to ask ahead.

If it is allowed, but not essential for the mystery shop (ie children’s clothing shop), how do you decide whether or not to bring your children? There are a few rules that might help you decide:

1. What type of shop is it? If it is a retail store or fine dining restaurant that is not geared toward children, it is best to keep them home. You want to mirror the company’s typical customer. Keep that in mind and use as a guide when deciding.

2. Your children’s ages – very young children may be distracting while on a shop, which will cause you to not be as focused or attentive to the employee and your surroundings. As kids get older, it can be easier. However, you have to watch out – the last thing you want is for your child to blow your cover by asking, “Mommy, is this a shop?”  You might want to keep the real intent of your shopping visit from your children, especially as they are getting older.

3. Your child’s personality/temperament – you know your child best. If your child is irritable the day of your shop, or especially active, it might be too distracting for your child to accompany you. This is something to consider before taking them along – if they’re having a rough day (or you are!), it might be best to keep them home.

4. Children and babies can change the course of the interaction with staff. If you interact with an employee that especially loves children, your conversation and interaction may be skewed. Also, you may be more memorable to the employee, especially if you have detailed conversation about your children. Remember that you want to mirror the typical customer and have a typical interaction to evaluate.

One benefit of mystery shopping is the flexibility it can allow, and also lets you take your children along. However, the goal is to provide companies with objective, detailed information. If you feel that you cannot truly do that with your children along, it is best to keep them home or schedule shops on days where someone can care for your child while you’re out shopping.

Until next time…happy shopping!

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