Friday, June 29, 2012

Mystery Shopping

How many of us become giddy at the idea of getting paid to shop? Now, how many of us return to reality and conclude that mystery shopping is a scam? I've been there, thought that. But, it turns out that there are MANY mystery shopping companies out there that do not charge a dime to register with them or shop for their company. I know, because I am an active mystery shopper and have never paid a single company to shop for them. AND, I have been paid for all of the assignments I've completed. 

What is Mystery Shopping?  
Mystery shopping companies hire individuals as independent contractors (and in some rare cases as an employee of the company) to pose as a typical customer while visiting their client’s business to examine customer service, product quality, cleanliness, and the general environment of the establishment. Shoppers are given guidelines about the client’s expectations for making specific observations during their visit. After leaving the establishment, the shopper must report their visit often using an online form and in some cases a Microsoft Word or Excel document. Mystery shops can be performed in person and via telephone or internet. Mystery shoppers are also called secret shoppers, spotters, undercover performance evaluators, anonymous consumers, auditors, virtual customers, market researchers, etc. 

There are various types of mystery shopping but evaluating customer service from a shopper’s point of view is the most common type of mystery shop. If you think about it, all sorts of companies rely on their employees to provide excellent customer service in order to win new customers and keep existing ones. Many industries are extremely competitive, so customer service is usually the distinguishing factor. Many times companies do not discover that an employee is under-performing until they start losing customers. By hiring a mystery shopper to evaluate customer service, companies can re-train employees in areas of weakness, better articulate the company’s expectations if its staff, and reward employees who are performing well. 

How do I Make Money? 
Once registered with a (or several) mystery shopping company (see my list of reputable companies here) you must search the company's database and then apply for local shops that interest you. Once you are awarded a shop, you must read the shop guidelines and familiarize yourself with the requirements. After you perform the shop according to the company's guidelines, you submit your report. Once your shop is accepted (shops/reports can be rejected for payment if the guidelines are not adhered to) payment follows anywhere from a week to 60 days from the date of the accepted report. 

Earnings Potential 
This all depends on the type and complexity of the shop. If you are doing a restaurant evaluation shop, you can expect $20 - $40, depending on the restaurant, and usually in the form of a reimbursement for your meal. If you are doing a customer service/retail evaluation, you can expect $10-$20. For an apartment complex evaluation $25-$35 is not uncommon. Phone shops usually pay $3-$5 and web shops vary from $3-$10. In my spare time, devoting around 20 hours a week to mystery shopping, I average $500-$600/month.  

If mystery shopping is something you are interested in learning more about, I invite you to check out a few of my favorite and legitimate mystery shopping companies.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

No comments:

Post a Comment