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Do You Know How Important You Are? November 29, 2012

Posted by Ann Michaels & Associates in Uncategorized.
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If you’re a mystery shopping, you know it ain’t easy sometimes. People who aren’t aware of mystery shopping, or know very little about it, think it’s a “fun” way to shop, eat out, and have fun while making money. It can be fun and rewarding, but “easy” isn’t a way I’d describe it most days.

As a shopper, you have a responsibility to be accurate in your reporting, pay attention to the minor details, and convey your experience in an objective manner. There’s a lot to watch for while you’re on a shop and sometimes the reports can take quite a while, especially when narrative detail is involved.

Some days you may wonder if it’s all worth it….it is! Shoppers are the #1 person in the industry – just like employees on the front line of a business, shoppers are the front lines of our business. We rely on you every day, and companies appreciate your efforts.

I know as a shopper you may wonder if your report makes a difference, or if what you do really impacts a company. It certainly does! Mystery shopping programs have proven a vital tool in measuring employee performance and the customer experience, among other things. Companies who use mystery shopping programs:

* See an increase in sales over time, sometimes upwards of a 10% increase

* Value their employees AND customers; they want to make sure the entire experience is top-notch, and your reports help make that happen

* Take your reports very seriously. They pore over the details and run analytics on the data they collect over time, which helps them gauge the effectiveness of their training procedures, evaluate staff, and gives direction on incentive programs and bonuses.

The next time you’re wondering “Is this worth it?” just remember that you ARE making a difference and doing a great service for employees and customers. Every shop gets a company one step closer to providing an exceptional experience for their customers.

Bringing your kids along to shops: The good, the bad, and the ugly November 26, 2012

Posted by Ann Michaels & Associates in Uncategorized.
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Written by: Kristin Garvey, Independent Account Manager at Ann Michaels & Associates


A great way for Stay at Home Moms and parents of young children to make extra money is by mystery shopping. You can write your reports from home, and you can take the assignments that work for you. But, is it okay for you to bring your kids with you to a shop? You should always follow the shop instructions. If the instructions state that you are not allowed to bring children to a shop, don’t do it. If you don’t follow the instructions, your report will more than likely be excluded. But, what do you do if there are no directives in the report regarding whether or not it is okay to bring your children with you to a shop?

Think about it

Like most things in life, you need to use some common sense. If you are conducting a bar shop, a liquor shop, or even a hardware store shop, you should probably leave your little bundle of joy at home. While your child may not do anything to cause a problem during the shop, if it is out of the ordinary to belly up to the bar while your son or daughter belly up next to you, you are making yourself memorable. Children that are out of place in a store, bar, or at a fancy eatery are like red flags. It’s something that the staff remembers. You don’t ever want to be remembered. You don’t want to be the topic of discussion between the employees.

The Good

If you plan on taking your child with you, make sure that your child is in good spirits. Ha, ha. I know. I have three. I know that mood can change within seconds, and you’re left wondering what the heck just happened. However, some things you can do to ensure that your child is in good spirits is to take him/her with you when they are well fed and well rested. In other words, don’t try to do a shop during a time that your child normally has lunch. Don’t try to do a shop during a time that your child normally naps. Trust me. I’ve tried. I’ve failed. Take something along with you to keep the child entertained such as a favorite (and quiet) toy, something distracting, etc. Assuming that you are in an appropriate environment, maybe bring a small snack. Those Goldfish crackers are just the most wonderful things on the planet sometimes! Keep in mind that if you do bring a snack, don’t let your child make a mess. Clean up after you and your child. Again, you don’t want to be remembered. If you leave a trail of bright orange crackers throughout the store, when the employees need to make sure the sales floor is always clean, they will remember you, and not fondly. Another thing to keep in mind is simply containing your child. Strollers are wonderful for containing a child. Just make sure your stroller is an appropriate size for the aisles in which you will be shopping. Getting your stroller stuck or knocking over merchandise will get you remembered.

The Bad

Some may argue that plenty of parents who are simply running errands bring their children with them, so a shopper should be able to as well. Again, this all boils down to keeping your anonymity in tact at all times and being able to make all of your observations. You don’t want to be remembered, and you don‘t want to be distracted during a shop. I had one shopper who brought her child along to a paint shop because the shopper was planning on buying paint for her child’s room. Obviously, there’s no harm in that, and there was nothing in the shop instructions that stated that children were not allowed. However, the shopper then proceeded to have the child pick out the color and discuss the colors with the employee. The child changed her mind several times about what color she wanted. The child received a sucker from the employee, and the shopper had a lengthy conversation with the employee about the employee’s grandchild. That’s where things went wrong. Unless you are asked to have your child interact with an employee, do not allow that to happen. Of course your child can return a hello or answer a question, but having a two-year old have a cute and memorable conversation with an employee regarding paint color is not okay. As you can see, it would be very easy for the employee to remember the conversation with the precious little one who reminded him so much of his grandchild.
The Ugly

Let’s say that you are performing a shop, and your child proceeds to have a temper tantrum or starts running around the store. We’ve all been there. It’s no fun. If you are doing a shop, it’s just awful, both because you are trying to make observations and also because you child is becoming very, very memorable. If you bring your child to a store and he/she begins to misbehave, do not continue the shop. Hopefully, you can calm your child and return to the store a bit later; however, you really should not continue with the shop. You are not able to make good observations when you are distracted, and you and your child are becoming memorable. Leave and try again. If you only have that one moment to perform the shop, and you can’t calm your child, contact your scheduler right away and see if you can reschedule. Do not jeopardize the integrity of your assignment! Your scheduler will appreciate the fact that you want to do a good job for them not just get the shop completed.
One other thing that you need to keep in mind about bringing your children with you on a shop is not to let them know that you are performing a shop. Sounds silly, but kids are perceptive, and they have no filter. They can blow your cover in no time. The last time I brought my child with me on a shop was when he blurted out in the store, “Mommy! Are you Mystery Shopping that lady?” Ugh. Of course, I had to leave, I couldn’t take that shop again for a while, and I never brought my kids with me on a shop again.

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