Written By Ceridwyn

FAQ: How to Stay Undercover

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.


FAQ: How do I avoid getting “outted” as a mystery shopper? The easy answer is to say to act like a normal customer or patron, but that’s not very helpful.

First and foremost, be familiar with your assignment guidelines so you are comfortable with all aspects of the visit. Be aware that many businesses that are mystery shopped have staffs that are eager to play “catch the shopper”. Therefore you must be as prepared as possible so that you can behave naturally and at ease.

Unless specifically required to do so, do not ask questions that a regular customer wouldn’t ask. However, there are times that the client will want the shopper to pose an awkward inquiry. Take some time before your visit to figure out the best way to insert this into a conversation. Chances are that many other shoppers have been in the same situation, so check out the creative ways others have dealt with it on the Mystery Shopper Forum.

Know your backstory, and stick to it. Your backstory should be as close to your real life as possible. It will be more believable, and it will be easier to not get tangled up in trying to remember what you’ve already shared during your interaction.

It sounds obvious, but when using an alias, remember to use it from start to finish. If you’re not on your game, you can slip up and use your real name. It’s happened to the best of us.

Keep your backstory simple and boring. The more interesting details you offer up, the more chances you have to trip up. More details also offer an associate more opportunities to ask you questions, which lead to more details, more questions, and so forth.

FAQ: Will I get “outted” if I visit the same location more than once? No, not necessarily. Most businesses could not survive without repeat business from its customers. So it’s not usually surprising for employees to occasionally spot a patron that has come in before, and they don’t think much of it.

In most cases, you will be just one more of a hundred faces walking through the door of an establishment each day. That’s what you should strive for. Your goal is to be forgettable.

Your wardrobe, jewelry, accessories, and hairstyle should not be so unique that they call attention to yourself. You don’t want to be remembered. This is not the time to pull out your green sparkle gel pen topped with a pink fuzzy creature to sign your bill.

Likewise, your conversation should be just as ordinary as your wardrobe. Getting chatty will get you into trouble. Stay away from topics such as kids, pets, schools, workplaces, churches, and clubs. Like one forum member said, “Pretend you are in a witness protection program.”

FAQ: What if I am asked if I am a mystery shopper? Act surprised and excited. Ask if that means you won something, and look around as if you are trying to find cameras or a prize presenter. Or just act confused and ask them what a mystery shopper is. Or tell them you’re looking for work and ask if they can tell you how to get started with mystery shopping. Never ‘fess up.

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