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Keeping it real (mysterious)

As a nation, we’re not big fans of confrontation are we? Especially when we’re out Mystery Shopping; we want to get in there, do our assignment and get out without being suspected.

The Mystery Shopping companies do what they can to make sure that shoppers aren’t outed. Often a variety of scenarios are created and distributed to shoppers with suggestions of appropriate questions to ask which reduce the risk of shoppers asking staff for the same thing over and over. Visit or call dates and times are staggered and randomised too, so that staff can’t spot patterns and try to guess when Mystery Shoppers will be assessing them.

However it is still important that a certain level of mysteriousness is maintained by the shoppers themselves (leaving the clipboard and magnifying glass at home is a good first step). As you’ll come to learn, each assignment is different, so you’ll need to check your Shopper Brief carefully, but here are some ideas which might help you to keep yourself mysterious:

1. Take a buddy.

Or a partner, or anyone that’s going to behave themselves really. As long as your Shopper Brief doesn’t stipulate that you must go alone, why not take someone with you? If you’re chatting away to a friend it’ll look completely normal.

2. Have your phone in your hand

Obviously you’ll need to make sure that there’s nothing relating to the Mystery Shop on your screen, but having your phone to hand will make snapping a screenshot of your lock screen easier (when you enter the shop – recording your time of entry so you don’t have to remember it).

3. Refrain from one word answers

Businesses often want to know whether their staff approach customers and if they’re warm and welcoming. If this is part of the assessment then always wait for them to talk to you first, but if they ask ‘How are you today?’ you could say ‘ Fine thanks, shame about the weather though,’ instead of a rather blunt ‘fine’ as it’ll sound more natural.

4. Look into the eyes

As long as you’re comfortable, make a bit of eye contact when staff members are talking to you. It might help you seem more genuine. So there’s a few keeping it real suggestions.

Nevertheless, sometimes you’ve done all you can and yet, that curious Sales Assistant puts your receipt in the bag and utters those dreaded words, ‘Have you been Mystery Shopping me?’ Horror. Absolute horror.

It doesn’t happen often, but if it should we hope that these get-out-of-jail-free phrases (some more tongue-in-cheek than others) could save your bacon:

“Have you been Mystery Shopping me?” (Says the Sales Assistant):

“I’m afraid I wouldn’t know, what’s Mystery Shopping?” (The classic response).

If you have to call a specific target but the wrong person answers the phone, say:

“Oh, really sorry I’ll call back in a minute as someone’s just come to the door.” (Because “I’m just going under a bridge and will lose signal” is a bit over used).

Whilst taking a photo of the outside of the shop: “Why are you taking a photo of the shop?”

“I want to show my friend where you get those awesome [INSERT PRODUCT NAME HERE] from.” (The ‘flattery will get you everywhere’ response).

If you think you’ve been spotted, RUN AWAY!! No don’t really run away, just finish the assignment if you can and once  a safe distance away, make sure you contact a member of the MSL team. You’ll find a telephone number and email at the bottom of every Shopper Brief. Explain what happened and then have yourself a nice cup of tea.

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