FAQ - Mystery Shopping 09/23/2009
Do I need previous experience to become a Mystery Shopper?
No. Most shoppers don't start out with any market research experience.
The qualities of a good mystery consumer can be obtained from other work experiences such as a previous job history where you worked in retail or another business where you may have been on the other side of mystery shopping.
Organizational skills, an eye for detail and a joy for shopping are important skills for a mystery shopper.
Do I work for the Mystery Consumer Provider or the company I am shopping for?
Most mystery shoppers work on brief contract for the company they are shopping for, not the provider.
How many hours will I work as a shopper?
That depends on you and your schedule. Most shoppers let their provider know how often and what kinds of shops they are interested in working. Ultimately, since shoppers act as independent contractors for each assignment, you have the right to turn down any assignment you are offered. Most shoppers work at least 20 hours a month and some work full time hours. Mystery shopping is largely considered a part-time job that offers supplementary income.
How am I paid and when?
You will be paid based on the terms of your employer. You will be paid based on the number of hours you work or a flat rate per assignment. Usually shoppers are paid monthly via a check in the mail or through secure online payment options such as Paypal.
How much will I earn?
This depends on how experienced you are and the type of shop you are working. Shoppers can make as much as $100/hr or as little as $15/hr. Most shoppers are paid hourly.
Do I have to pay to sign up with a Mystery Comsumer Provider?
Providers are helpful because they are in close contact with companies that are hiring mystery shoppers.
Do I get to keep the items I shopped for?
This depends on your assignment. Consumers are commonly reimbursed for dining experiences on top of the hourly pay they receive to conduct the shop. If the item is something you would normally buy, the company almost always reimburses the shopper. Be sure to outline the details of your assignment such as this before agreeing to an assignment. Shoppers are rarely asked to take on the burden of purchasing the product without receiving some sort of reimbursement. In fact, this is considered one of the largest perks of mystery shopping jobs.
Will I be removed from a provider if I turn down a shopping assignment?
NO! The providers want their shoppers to enjoy the experience and be comfortable. This way, they get the best information possible from shoppers. However, if you continue to turn down work without explaining why or without trying to work something out with your provider, you may hurt your chances at future work.
How long does an assignment take to complete?
In most cases it won't take you longer than 30 minutes. You may be asked to complete several 30 minute shops back to back for instance. Or be asked to go into several stores in an afternoon for a total of 4-5 hours of shopping.
How will I know of an assignment?
Your provider will alert you to assignments based on your skills and location.
Will my assignments need to be done at a certain time?
Yes, you will be given a deadline that you will be expected to adhere to for each assignment.
Mystery Shopping Facts 09/23/2009
Many Industries Use Mystery Shoppers
Any business that wants to measure the satisfaction around a product, service, facility or operation can employ the use of mystery shoppers.
This means that mystery shoppers aren't always "shopping" but also experiencing a service or attending an event. In any venue where it might be helpful for a business to hear how their service is viewed from a customer standpoint is an area where mystery shopping can be a beneficial tool. For example: banks, theatres, car dealerships, hospitals, concerts, shopping malls, retail stores, call centers, hotels, restaurants, parks, gyms, spas, franchising operations, government organizations, churches and airlines. The list is seemingly endless as it becomes obvious there are many more instances where mystery shopping is used in market research.
Mystery Shoppers Offer Businesses Valuable Information
Statistics have shown that as much as 90% of customers who are unhappy will not say anything directly to the service but default immediately to competition. Repeat business is perhaps one of the most important aspects to a thriving company and therefore mystery shopping helps to examine this.
Additionally after price the greatest factor between competitors is customer service. Mystery shopping helps monitor that service. Statistically speaking 69% of customers will leave a business due to poor customer service. Therefore, customer service is an incredibly important factor for businesses to measure.
Aside from customer retention businesses turn to mystery shoppers to: measure employee integrity, to monitor the condition of a facility, to improve customer service areas, ensure high product quality, to compliment other market research data and to improve areas of a business that can be monitored via customer service.
There are Many Mystery Consumer Providers and Jobs
Many companies provide mystery shoppers. Mystery shopping can be provided to a business through market research companies, independent shoppers, Mystery Consumer providers, private investigators, training companies and advertising agencies. All of these venues represent areas of possible employment for someone interested in becoming a mystery shopper.
Mystery Shopping is a Growing Industry
Since its presence on the Internet, mystery shopping has grown significantly in the last few years. It now represents a billion dollar industry worldwide and is used in countless countries. In 2004, the (Mystery Consumer Association) conducted one of the first tests to quantify how many businesses were using mystery shopping. Over 8.1 million mystery shops were conducted and the businesses who employed mystery shopping as a market research technique saw on average growth of over 10%.
Tools For Mystery Shoppers. 09/23/2009
Some people think that becoming a mystery shopper is easy and doesn't require any work or any special skills. This couldn't be further from the truth. When reading training materials or speaking with a Mystery Consumer provider over the phone, take note on the information they are giving you.
They are professionals in the industry and they know the ins and outs of mystery shopping better than almost anyone. The advice and information they give you during training periods or the materials they give you have information that will help you be the best shopper you can be.
Conferences and Certifications
Many people are wary of paying for events that offer training skills and information to mystery shoppers because of the scams that exist in these areas. However, some Mystery Consumer Providers work with thousands of businesses worldwide and are well known in the industry. Many of these businesses offer training courses, conferences and other venues to help you become a better shopper. These conferences for example are a great place to network with businesses and other shoppers. They are also excellent places to learn new skills such as how to use equipment such as video and audio equipment that might ultimately land you a more complex and higher paying job as a shopper.
Additionally being certified under certain providers means you carry the name of a well known company in the industry with you to your jobs. You are often times more likely to be hired for jobs if businesses know you were certified with a certain provider. If you are well researched and do your homework you will enjoy advancing yourself into the industry.
Tips And Tools For Mystery Shoppers. 09/23/2009
How to be Successful
Being a successful mystery consumer means working in your free time from home, earning extra money and shopping for a living! In many ways it's the perfect job.
The following are a list of tips and tools that will make your mystery shopping experience as successful as possible.
Having good communication is one of the best ways to be a successful mystery shopper. In doing so, you eliminate the confusion that can arise due to scheduling conflicts and the types of shops you want to be working on. By communicating effectively with your employer you will more likely get the assignments you want to work on, work the hours that are best for you and ultimately enjoy your working experience more. In doing so you will automatically become a better shopper because you have communicated the needs of your shopping assignments to your employer and thus, are working the job the way you want to be working. Good communication broods happy workers, happy employers and an overall more successful experience as a mystery shopper.
It is critical for mystery shoppers to be able to stay as objective as possible. The best mystery shoppers are those that deliver objective shops and those who are able to keep a professional mind about their.
Be Detail Oriented
Paying close attention to details will make your shop reports that much better. By taking good mental notes and completing your shop reports with as much attention to detail as possible, you are more likely to be asked back for more shopping assignments.
Finding Mystery Shopper Jobs. 09/23/2009
Becoming a Mystery Shopper isn't as hard as you might think.
It only takes some preparation and researching on your part in order to find out what company and mystery shopping scenario is best for you.
Because of the mystery shopping scams that exist most professionals advise against putting trust into the hands of people that require you to pay for certification or training services without researching the businesses thoroughly beforehand. In fact, doing your research is the best way to find mystery shopping jobs that will benefit you and your schedule the best, in addition to avoiding scams. By researching the companies that provide mystery shopping training and employment, you are already more prepared than the hundreds of people who entertain the idea of becoming a mystery shopper but do not research thoroughly.
Searching online is an excellent way to understand your options as a potential mystery shopper. Certain Mystery Consumer Providers are more prevalent than in others in certain parts of the country. Others will send you training materials and information on mystery shopping without ever having to meet you in person. Some will begin the interview process online or via telephone and then later set you up with an in-person interview with someone in your area. There are infinite mystery shopping processes and ways in which to become employed as a mystery shopper. Thus, thoroughly researching the different opportunities that exist, will best ensure you find a job scenario that works well for you.
Since mystery shopping providers are so prevalent and represent safe and efficient ways in which to become a mystery shopper, this is an excellent place to begin your search. Mystery Consumer Providers require very little commitment when you are in search of information. Many will add you to the database of shoppers and inform you if there are assignments that might work well for you. This is a great way to begin your experience as a mystery shopper.
Many people want to work as an independent mystery consumer and do not want to be directly involved with a provider. There are many people who choose to take this route but still turn to providers for information such as online news, conferences and training materials. Several providers will train shoppers through a certification course. Independent shoppers may choose to become certified through a provider because the provider's certification is so well known among market research companies and businesses that hire mystery shoppers. Thus, even if you are thinking of working independently as a mystery shopper looking at the providers online is a great way to begin and expand your scope of understanding in terms of the mystery shopping industry.
It is important to note that there are many scams involving certifications. Never pay for a certification course unless you have thoroughly researched the company beforehand.
Mystery Shopping 09/23/2009
Have you ever wanted a job that combined several of your favorite interests? A job that pays you to get up every morning and do the same things you would do in your spare time? Of course you have!
A job that allows you to do the things you love and get paid for it is perhaps the perfect work scenario. It means never feeling like you've spent the day in the office but instead means feeling like you've just had the day off. If you are someone who enjoys shopping, interacting with people, flexible work schedules and never sitting in a cubicle, then a mystery shopper job might be perfect! By becoming a mystery shopper you can combine a love for shopping with the ability to make money all at once.
Mystery Shopping is a process that measures the quality of a certain service. It means that as a mystery shopper you are hired to pose as an everyday person in order to assess the quality of the company or service you are examining. Mystery shoppers attend events, shop in stores, ask questions, file complaints and talk with employees all under the guise of being a regular, everyday person. Mystery shoppers are often given assignments where they pose as a difficult or needy customer. The mystery shopper then reports back with an evaluation of their experience. They commonly take note on the cleanliness of the store, the personalities of employees, how well they were treated, all in addition to evaluating their overall experience. Put simply, as a Mystery Shopper you get to attend your favorite stores, ask questions about your favorite products, shop new clothing lines and test the level of service you receive as an everyday patron.
Mystery Shopping is an excellent way for companies to test how their products and services come across to everyday people. After all, the level of success for some companies is measured in how their customers are treated and how well these customers are able to navigate, use and experience their service. Thus, mystery shoppers might attend restaurants, purchase vacations, go shopping or attend an event. In many cases, how the mystery shoppers evaluate a service greatly determines how companies proceed with their business. For example, if a mystery shopper is asked to attend an event, and act like a difficult patron, their report might indicate that while the event was pleasant they were not treated well by employees. Thus their overall experience was hindered because of how the employees treated them. A company uses this information in assessing that customer dissatisfaction isn't in their product (the event) but in how employees deal with people. This allows the company to focus their efforts in the area that will most effect how a customer experiences their service. Thus, mystery shopping is commonly used by market research to evaluate where exactly, customer satisfaction and dissatisfaction lie.
In the following sections we discuss in greater detail how mystery shopping is used, who hires mystery shoppers, what a day as a mystery shopper entails, salaries as well as becoming a mystery shopper. By reading this material you will gain a greater understanding of the industry, what it means to be a mystery shopper and whether or not you could be the next person to shop for a living.
Working From Home As A Mystery Shopper. 09/23/2009
Working as a mystery shopper often carries the prestige of being able to earn money on your own schedule and from the comforts of home.
While your shopping experiences might take place outside of the house, the majority of your correspondence will take place from the home. This means working off-site for the majority of your mystery shopping career as opposed to working in a traditional work environment, like that of an office. Some mystery shopping companies might require you to come to the facility in order to train for the position or for annual trainings to acquire new skills. It can be said however, that most mystery shoppers do not go into an office regularly and are in charge of their own schedules and work hours.
Working out of the house has both pros and cons. While it allows you a flexible schedule, mystery shoppers are expected to report to their assignments on time and to deliver reports before deadlines according to the terms of the assignment. Therefore, while it may seem like a relaxed work environment mystery shoppers who work from home are responsible for completing work assignments as if there were working from an office. This means being responsible for times and shops you commit to completing, regardless if the shop falls during a time the becomes inconvenient for the shopper.
It is common for mystery shoppers to be asked to work non-traditional work hours as well. Weekends and evenings are common mystery shopping hours and represent times when a shopper might otherwise not be working. Because of this it can sometimes be more difficult than you might think to follow through with a mystery shopping job because friends and family have the time off that you are required to work in order to complete your assignment.
Most companies will try and outline the times and places of your shops as best they can ahead of time. However, understanding the non-traditional nature of the job is important to being successful as a mystery shopper. Some shoppers relish in the fact that they are given the opportunity to work in such different hours and places. There are others however, that find the schedule difficult to maintain. The best thing a mystery shopper can do is to be consistent in their communication. Many companies will try and work around your schedule if you find it hard to make non-traditional work hours and times. This isn't always the case, but again good communication with your employer will ensure a better chance for a mystery shopping schedule that works well within your life. Do remember, that the more you're willing to work, the more you work you will receive and additionally, the more pay you are sure to earn as a mystery shopper.
Mystery Shoppers Hours 09/23/2009
As a mystery shopper the number of hours you work depends mostly on the number of hours you would like to work.
Most Mystery Consumer Providers will assign work based on your availability. Thus, if you want to work more, you will be assigned more work. On average a company will ask you to work a certain number of hours each month to ensure your continued employment. This varies depending on the provider but is usually about 20 hours a month. If you have more time to dedicate to shopping you can work as much as 20 hours a week and even closer to full time hours depending on the relationship with your provider. A full time shopping job is considered closer to 30 hours a week because of evaluations and preparation time involved. Again, full time Mystery shopping jobs are harder to procure and while some shoppers work full time it is rare that they would work 40/hrs a week consistently.
The better your relationship with your provider, the more likely you are to procure assignments. Additionally, providers represent the best way in which to receive consistent work mystery shopping; this as opposed to independent shoppers who are responsible for finding their own work.
How Much Are Mystery Shoppers Paid? 09/23/2009
Payment is an important aspect of any job search and for mystery shoppers the subject of pay is no different.
What can you expect to make as a mystery shopper? How many hours will you work? Should you expect salary or hourly pay? When and how are mystery shoppers paid? Are there benefits? In the following section we discuss payment and the issues surrounding payment for mystery shoppers in the industry.
Hourly vs. Salary Mystery Shopper Pay
The amount of money you can make as a mystery shopper greatly depends on the type of mystery shopping job you employ. Most mystery shoppers work part time for mystery consumer providers who supply workers with assignments based on their availability. Thus, because most shoppers work on a flexible schedule they aren't employed full time to jobs where they report to an office each day. As such, most mystery shoppers work for hourly wages which change based on the amount of time they spend working on an assignment as well as the time they have available.
There are some instances however where mystery shoppers can be paid on salary or a flat rate depending on the assignment. This is usually the case when mystery shoppers are experienced in the industry, have been working for a period of time for the same company or work for independent companies rather than providers. The difference between making hourly wages and salary as a mystery shopper greatly depends on the relationship between the shopper and the company they work for. As such, if you are a shopper who has been working in the industry for years you are more likely to find a salaried job versus one that pays hourly.
Some providers pay their shoppers on assignment. In this instance regardless the amount of hours you work, you will simply be paid per assignment. This fee varies and will be discussed in your contract upon accepting a position or assignment.
There is far less information on how much a mystery shopper makes under a salaried position than for one where they work hourly; mostly in part because it is more common for mystery shoppers to work hourly. Salaried mystery shoppers are usually highly trained market research professionals or long standing employees with a company. As such, salaries for professionals can range extensively anywhere from $40,000 - $70,000 annually.
Beginning mystery shoppers can expect to be paid minimum hourly wages, or roughly $10/hr. However, once a mystery shopper is employed for a longer period of time or is asked to shop more complex assignments payment can be as high as $25/hr. Thus, the longer you are a mystery shopper, the better payment you can expect.
For those mystery shoppers who work on assignment, they can be expected to be paid anywhere from $15 - $100 on an assignment.
Mystery Shopper Benefits
Most mystery shoppers will not receive benefits for their work. It is more common for mystery shoppers who work on salary to receive benefits from the company than for hourly workers. In fact, most shoppers are considered private contractors and will not receive any benefits. Benefits such as 401K, health and dental will be discussed with your employer upon hiring and is an area of your employment you should thoroughly discuss before you begin working.
How Mystery Shoppers are Paid
Mystery shoppers are commonly paid via check or Paypal. Again the payment relationship depends greatly on your provider. Most providers are used to a variety of payment methods and shoppers are commonly offered a choice in terms of payment methods. Since mystery shopping is commonly off-site and shoppers don't report to an office daily, the most common methods of payment are usually Paypal or check.
There are popular scams involving cashiers checks and mystery shopping. Never accept money for assignments you haven't worked on or wire money to locations outside of the country to companies you know very little about.
What To Expect As A Mystery Shopper 09/23/2009
Understanding what is expected of you as a mystery shopper ultimately helps you decide whether or not you feel the position might be right for you.
It is important to understand then, the realities of mystery shopping employment so you can make the right decision in terms of your employment.
While mystery shopping might offer you extra money and flexible work hours doing something you love, also understand that sometimes those work hours are at times you would other wise have occupied. It isn't uncommon to be on assignment during a weekend or in the evening, a time you would normally not be working. Additionally, mystery shopping can be very fun and allows you to shop places and meet people as you would in your free time - but it is also a job that needs to be taken seriously. Some market research companies and mystery consumer providers are under large contracts to provide accurate and professional information to businesses. Thus, as a mystery shopper if you accept an assignment it is critical that you complete it before the deadline. Work schedules are often flexible for mystery shoppers and allow you to work when you have time, but that doesn't mean committing to a project and then not completing it. You will be held liable for the time you commit.
Some mystery Consumer providers claim that you can make full time incomes as a mystery shopper. While this is sometimes true, it is very rare and most mystery shoppers employ jobs and incomes that are viewed as part-time or supplemental. Some jobs however, might require full-time hours at some point but not at others. For example, an experienced mystery shopper might accept an assignment where they work all day for a portion of a week, but then not at all the following week. Thus, the work schedule is flexible and allows shoppers to work when they have free time, but it can be inconsistent. As a result the pay can be inconsistent too.
The best way to get the most out of your mystery shopping experience is to understand that for most people it is a fun way to make extra money. Most mystery shoppers don't evaluate first class plane flights or tropical cruises. Some get the opportunity to evaluate fancy restaurants and attend concerts but even these mystery shoppers are required to take diligent notes and evaluate the experience from a professional point of view. If you are dedicated to becoming a mystery shopper of this sort, there is nothing to stand in your way. For the majority of mystery shoppers out there however, it is a part-time job that offers supplemental incomes for people who love shopping.
Benifits Of Mystery Shopping.
Part-Time, Flexi-Hours, Free Meals, Make Money Have Fun!
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