Posted By Jacob Jans, Editor

My 3 Criteria for Choosing a Mystery Shopper

Written By Jamie Giles, Scheduling Coordinator, Mercantile Systems, Inc.

I’ve been a scheduler since 2009. One of the very first things I learned when it came to assigning shoppers was to go with those who were proven to be reliable before assigning anyone else. What this meant initially was ignoring the fact that a shopper was Silver or Gold certified and instead looking at their shopper record. This was “new” to me because as a shopper, I really thought that MSPA-certification meant a lot, but when it comes down to it, it means nothing if you can’t back up that certification with a track record of reliability and professional communication. This thought process eventually evolved into part of my own scheduling philosophy.

So what do I look for when assigning shops? A few things:

1. Has the applicant completed assignments for us before? If so, have they completed on time and how was their report scored by our editors? This is my most important factor – reliability and quality!

2. Does the applicant have a history of canceling, rescheduling or flaking assignments? Even if you don’t think we’re keeping track, we are. We know that life happens and sometimes you can’t meet your obligations, but for some shoppers, this seems to become a pattern and an unreliable shopper means that we may not meet our client deadline, which makes us hesitant to assign you. In most cases if we don’t fill the shop and it’s not successfully completed on time, we don’t get paid – no matter how long and how hard we worked on it.

3. Has the shopper, regardless of their number of past assignments, come through for us on a hard-to-fill or last-minute shop? This is where those “Hero” citations come in, folks! I’ve seen a lot of commentary on the boards which refer to these as “useless.” Believe it or not, that’s not the case. Having one (or more) of these in your profile can mean the difference between being assigned that lucrative shop, and having that shop be awarded to someone else. Here’s why: When I see that a shopper has a “Hero” citation, it’s an immediate indicator to me that they’ve gone above and beyond for us.

So, what does all of this mean for the brand spanking new shopper? Have no fear! You can and will still be assigned shops! However, I’m much more likely to take a “chance” on a brand new shopper at the beginning of the month rather than the end, so apply as soon as you see jobs hit the boards for your best chance of being assigned. Also, on almost any given day, I’m more willing to take a chance on a “new” shopper over using one that has a track record of canceling, rescheduling or flaking.

One more tip for newbies! Apply for the assignments you’d like to complete, and then shoot a quick email to the scheduler/s. Just reaching out and saying something like, “I’ve applied for a XXXXX for next week on the 16th. I realize I’m new to your company, but I want you to know that I’m committed to completing this on time and doing a great job,” would go a LONG way in my book. It means you’re serious about mystery shopping and that you believe in open lines of communication – which is SO important in this industry.

Happy Shopping!

***The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are my own and do not represent the views of Mercantile Systems, Inc. or its clients.***

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