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Have you Been Planted? April 27, 2011

Posted by Ann Michaels & Associates in Uncategorized.
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Mystery shopping is evolving – it’s no longer a quick in and out assessment of a business. Instead, it has become a valuable training tool for many companies across the globe.

One of the newer trends is looking at existing customer experiences using a method we call “Plant a Shopper.” The traditional mystery shop evaluates a new or potential customer’s experience, and companies are now keying in to the existing customer’s experience – after all, it’s more expensive to gain new customers than it is to keep the existing ones.

Banks have been doing this for some time, and now we’re seeing an increase in other industries as well. Park Districts and libraries are doing these types of shops, as are household services such as lawn care or housekeeping.

It’s a bit different from traditional shopping in that it is more long-term – in the case of a park district, you would be required to sign up for a class or program. After each class, you would provide an evaluation touching on key points, such as the instructor’s professionalism, how the class is managed, content, etc. At the end of the class, you would provide an overall assessment of the entire experience.

In the case of a bank, you might be required to start an account and then use the account in various ways, such as making transactions with the tellers, placing phone calls with inquiries, or emailing the bank to gauge the response. After a set period of time, you would go back to the branch to close the account. This gives banks a snapshot of the entire experience.

As a shopper, they are generally good shops to get – you typically get consistent work at a good rate. However, before taking this type of project, you need to make sure you’ll be able to commit for the entire length of the project. If not, you risk non-payment for any of the work you’ve done, since it would likely have to be rescheduled with another shopper.

As mystery shopping continues to evolve, there will be many ways in which shoppers are utilized to give companies the insight and information they need.

Until next time…happy shopping!

Good News For The Mystery Shopping Industry – Another Scammer Caught April 9, 2011

Posted by Ann Michaels & Associates in Uncategorized.
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We all know that mystery shopping is plagued with scams, from the infamous check cashing scheme to unsolicited emails promising “hundreds of shops” for a fee.

We were thrilled to see another scammer caught and convicted – you can read about it here – a California man was sentenced to 6 years in prison for fraud and stealing $6 million from victims in the form of promising bogus training programs.

If you’re a shopper, you know this is great news! If you are not a mystery shopper, this is good information to know. Never pay a company who promises you shops or easy money to complete shops! Always do your homework before signing up with a company, and never provide personal information in response to one of these emails.

If you’re interested in mystery shopping, you can start with these sites to learn more about how to go about it legitimately:

The Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA)

Jobslinger (free to register, search for jobs within your area to learn which companies have work near you)

Volition (a great message board where shoppers can meet up to share advice, tips, and feedback on companies and different types of shops)

It would be great to completely obliterate scammers from the industry, but until that happens, the best we can do is educate the public on our industry. Mystery shopping is a great way to earn extra money as long as you stick with legitimate companies.

Until next time…happy shopping!

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