There are many questions that come up repeatedly on www.mysteryshopforum.com that will be compiled in a series of articles here in the Mystery Shopping Magazine. We hope that this will be a convenient resource for you to find the answers you are looking for regarding the tips and techniques and tools used in this business. This article is a follow up to Aliases 101, available here.
“ALIASES 102: Lulu S. Backintown and other naming variations”
FAQ: I have some favorite aliases that I just love. How do I fit them into this crazy system of yours? You get a one day pass to use your favorite alias once for each client group that you shop. Let’s face it. If you need this system at all it is because you will be doing a lot of shops that require unique aliases for shops for clients that have their data bases linking across sites, like big new home builders, assisted living and skilled nursing facilities and other highly automated system.
Catastrophic Moving and Storage, the largest storage system in the US, has a data base that includes the information from every guest visit since 2005, and can only be visited once by Mackie or Lulu S. Backintown. So, by all means, add your favorite aliases as an addendum to your alphabetical list of aliases. Then add a column to the right of the surnames column. That is where you will log when and where you used each and every alias, not just Lulu or Mackie.
FAQ: Huh? More record keeping? Is this worthwhile? If you want to graduate to the better paid shops, and especially to audio and video recorded shops, you are going to be responsible for not getting caught and for providing information during the shop so that the target can follow-up with you and get credit for required follow-up efforts.
Virtually any long scenario shops are going to require that you provide a name, phone number and email address that are not yet in the client’s data base. The price of moving up from $15 shops to shops paying $35 to $200 each is increased responsibility for planning scenarios and back stories and contact information that will not permit the target to ID you as a shopper. It’s one thing to lose the reimbursement for a fast food shop because you were spotted; it’s quite another to lose a $70 fee plus travel bonus because a new home agent spotted you.
FAQ: Eek! How will I ever manage enough names to do a couple hundred such shops a year?
Well, the Excel users will have an advantage here. That last column, where you note the date and place where you used a particular name, is also going to have to be expanded to record which email and phone number you left. You will want to organize it by client, not by MSC! I shop several clients that use more than one MSC, or which have changed MSCs at least once since I started my records in 2005. At best, your alphabetical list of surnames will have 26 entries, plus the addendum of pet names that do not fit the “rule.” The more times you can work the names on that list, the better.
FAQ: Crikey! Unique emails? You are driving me nuts. Is this a plot to get me to avoid these shops so you can have them all for yourself? Nope. This is the easy part. Be sure that you read and understand your internet provider’s rulers for screen names. With AOL, I get up to seven at a time, but it’s a snap to delete and create new names. Other IP systems permit more names but they are more complicated to delete and create. When I have a group of shops requiring follow-ups, I create email an address for each alias, thus: Zoe Aarons address will be “firstname.lastname@example.org. “ The ms prefix means that the addy will almost certainly be available.