What is Mystery Shopping?

Mystery Shopping is a research method used to observe and evaluate various aspects of a business. A mystery shopper documents the customer experience and uses the business’s standards and expectations as the metric for evaluation. It is meant to be an independent and objective means of gathering information from the customer’s perspective. Mystery shopping is collecting factual information on what happened or didn’t happen, was said or not said, was present or missing – during your visit. A mystery shopper poses as an ordinary customer and undertakes the same type of activity as any regular customer and in the same type of circumstances. The information obtained during a mystery shop is then recorded and reported. Afterward, an analysis of the various aspects of the information collected during the mystery shop will contribute to a company’s market research , communications and training programs, assisting them in identifying areas of strength and opportunities for improvement.

What to expect when you become a mystery shopper for We Check

We Check mystery shoppers are independent contractors that can accept or decline various opportunities for assignments as they become available. Shoppers are not obligated to accept opportunities nor are they guaranteed to be chosen for any particular assignment. Once you read and respond to a mystery shopping opportunity (an opportunity is usually an email notification sent to you or a posting in the Job Board), staff at We Check will make the final decision as to whether or not you qualify or will be selected as the shopper for an assignment.

Shoppers chosen for a particular assignment will receive an email notification that acknowledges that they have indeed been chosen for the assignment. This email will contain additional instructions/information related to the assignment and how to proceed. Shoppers are required to read all assignment emails in their entirety as they may contain instructions/information that, if not read and understood, could result in the mystery shop being invalid. Shoppers may not receive payment for reports that cannot be used.

Our mystery shoppers are encouraged to call or email if they have any questions that would clarify any information about a particular assignment. Once a mystery shopping assignment has been carried out, shoppers are required to fill in a report related to that specific assignment.

Mystery shoppers must log in to their shopper log on our online reporting system, SASSIE, via our “Shopper Login” page on our web site to access the report. Shoppers are required to log in, fill in the report, and then submit the report. Reports for the associated mystery shop must be submitted within the designated time frame. Shoppers will be required to access the online reporting system before carrying out the assignment in order to obtain a copy of the report and download shop instructions directly from the report.

What We Expect From You – Our Mystery Shoppers

In order for us to function in a professional and consistent manner, we require professionalism and consistency from all of our mystery shoppers. The following outlines some qualities that will help meet these expectations.

Reading and Communication

Much time is spent preparing instructions and supporting information. Reading all of the documentation (opportunity emails, assignment emails, shop guidelines and report forms) associated with a mystery shop will help ensure that your assignment is carried out the way it is intended. Pay attention to times, dates and scenarios – these are some aspects that could be relevant to your assignment. Instructions are purposefully specific. Any deviation from the instructions may exclude your report and payment will be withheld.

If you have any questions or require a clarification about the instructions or assignment, it is important that you express your question to the coordinator or manager associated with your assignment. A We Check contact name and number is always provided in your assignment documentation. A simple call or email could help to clarify any issues that are of concern. This type of communication helps to guarantee the quality and validity of the assignment.

In addition, part of good communication is ensuring that proper grammar, spelling and sentence structure is used when filling in any comment sections you encounter in report forms. The use of language short cuts, abbreviations and texting type of language and/or acronyms is unacceptable.

Discretion and Anonymity

Keep the mystery in Mystery Shopper.

We expect that our shoppers will be discreet about the assignments they accept and adhere to any explicit or implied notion of confidentiality. Mystery shoppers should never state that they are mystery shoppers unless otherwise instructed to do so. Blending in with the business’s customers and remaining anonymous are key factors in being a mystery shopper. Also, one should never disclose the results of a mystery shop with anyone other than an employee of We Check.

In keeping with the required tone of discretion and anonymity, shoppers must not accept assignments with which they have a conflict of interest. Current or former employees of a business being “shopped,” for example, would have to disqualify themselves from participating in that particular assignment. If you believe you have a conflict of interest, please contact the coordinator or manager associated with the assignment in question.

Protecting your anonymity while conducting shops and writing reports.

There are steps that you can take to protect your anonymity while performing your mystery shop assignments and when filling out your reports. We can’t be 100% sure that anonymity will be maintained, and identity could be revealed after a shop has been completed (ie. by the client looking at the date and time of the visit). However, there are ways to increase your chances:

  • Never reveal yourself as a mystery shopper
  • Always use cash
  • Honour your non-disclosure agreement and do not share any assignment information with a third party
  • Be discreet when taking notes after you have done your mystery shop. We advise shoppers to take notes on their phone rather than a piece of paper. Also, you can jot down notes in your vehicle, after you have done the mystery shop, if you are off site or out of view of staff members.
  • Blend in with normal customer behaviour
  • Do not provide your name in the narratives in your reports.
  • Ensure you black out personal information within your report, when uploading a receipt.

Fraud

Please be aware that shopper fraud is not tolerated. It diminishes the validity and reputation of our company, and the credibility of the mystery shopping program. Shoppers who falsify reports will be deactivated and black listed with the MSPA. Please note that technology such as reviewing surveillance cameras, Photo DNA of receipts and GeoVerify allows for ways to verify that the shopper actually went to the location and interacted with staff.

Objectivity

Every attempt should be made to maintain objectivity when making your observations. Our clients are after a “snapshot” of your experience, a factual documentation of what happened while in their establishment, surfing their website or making a phone call. While times, dates and names are usually considered unalterable objective measurements, other elements about your experience may prove a little more difficult to express. Try not to let past experiences, attitudes and/or opinions of the business you are evaluating inadvertently affect the outcome or description of your mystery shop.

Directly answering questions that are asked without assuming “what the company is after,” will help the quality of your report. Inserting comments when/where required can help describe your experience. Be sure that your answers address the question(s) being asked and that they are written in proper format. Using slang, foul language and comments deemed inappropriate to the information being asked will almost certainly guarantee that your report willneed to be altered or excluded. This means you may need to rewrite the report or the shop may need to be redone. Either way, this process is unnecessary and wasteful. Read your comments out loud — you will get a good idea of how they sound.

Writing constructive commentary in a neutral and factual manner often helps to keep the wording objective. Express what happened (or didn’t) as opposed to what someone else did or didn’t do. The following are examples of what we mean:

Write: “I was not greeted” instead of “He did not greet me.”

Write: “I was put on hold without being asked. I was on hold for one minute” instead of “She didn’t even ask me if I minded holding; she just put me on hold. She left me on hold for one minute.”

Pay, compensation and payment terms and conditions

Compensation for each assignment varies. The compensation, which could be a combination of monetary payment and/or reimbursements for goods or services received, will be listed in the opportunity email and/or the assignment email you receive. Compensation can also vary based on the total number of shops and/or if travel mileage is factored into the assignment pay (although mileage is not usually reimbursed for travel within your greater city area).

Shopper pays are processed on a monthly basis. Payment is usually issued within 30 days of your completed and validated assignment. If the assignment requires that you mail in your original receipts to We Check, payment will be issued within 30 days following the date we receive your receipts in our office.

Shoppers may not be remunerated or reimbursed for any incomplete or invalid shops. A shop can be invalid if the guidelines weren’t followed and if the report was not submitted within the allotted timeframe.

We Check pays shoppers via PayPal. If this is your first mystery shop with us, you can get paid via cheque; however, all subsequent mystery shops will be paid via PayPal. For more information on our PayPal policy, the benefits, and how it works, please visit our PayPal section.

Ensure your contact information in your shopper profile is up to date!

Failure to have your shopper profile up to date with your current address could mean that your payment is not sent to the correct location. This error will cause us to have to reissue your pay, with a small fee deducted from the pay. The same holds true for Pay Pal information. The email address you use in SASSIE must be the same email address for your Pay Pal account. Errors in payment due to contact information not being updated costs us money in time spent dealing with the issue and getting pays reversed.

We highly recommend that you review your shopper profile information every six months to ensure that the most up to date information is there. You could have changes with respect to employment, schooling, vehicles you own, banks you deal with, etc. Some of our mystery shops are assigned to a specific target market, so ensuring that your shopper profile is up to date means that you will receive the opportunity emails that pertain to you!