Top skills of mystery shoppers

Mystery shopping may be easy to break into, but if you're hoping to bring in more cash and earn a great reputation, it's important to hone your secret shopping skills.

Mystery shopping may be easy to break into, but if you're hoping to bring in more cash and earn a great reputation, it's important to hone your secret shopping skills. So what qualifications do top mystery shoppers have? Read on to find out.

Observation skills
This job is about paying attention to minor details and helping improve customer experiences. Experienced mystery shoppers know that observation skills are the key to success while on the job. If your observation skills are bit  rusty, try developing strategies so that you don't miss a thing.

Start by carefully reading over the job description, and think about what the client really wants. You may find themes throughout the document. For instance, some restaurants know that their establishments are clean, and so may ask you to focus more on the friendliness of the wait staff and quality of service.

If you're unsure about your ability to remember every request, make a checklist on a small notepad or in your phone. You can reference this while on the job to keep your observation skills sharp and to make sure you cross off every item on your list.

Ability to blend in
Stores and restaurants are often on the lookout for mystery shoppers, so the ability to blend in is of the utmost importance. If you stick out and are discovered as a secret shopper, the service you receive may be altered, negating the purpose of the assignment.

One of the best ways to blend in is to relax. If you're sweating bullets and asking pointed questions when speaking to an employee, you might just give yourself away. Instead, when you're in your car before heading in to the assignment, take a few deep breaths and assure yourself that you're going to do well.

Another way to ensure that you blend in is to consider the assignment first. It might not be worth the payment to take a job where you'll feel out of place and are more likely to be noticed. For example, you might stick out if you're middle-aged and visiting a bar where the average age of patrons is 21. You may also feel uncomfortable, taking the fun out of secret shopping.

Top-notch reporting
A sure-fire way to improve your rating and reputation is to write excellent reports. Without full and accurate reporting, clients cannot effectively analyze their business practices. When filling out a questionnaire, remember to include specific details. Writing something like, "The salesperson was helpful and made the shopping experience pleasant," is vague and not particularly helpful.

A better way to phrase this might be, "The salesperson, John, was neatly dressed with his uniform shirt tucked in and nametag easily visible. He assisted in finding the right size and style of bicycle I was requested to look for, and promoted the semi-annual sale that was taking place that day."

These details are beneficial and help managers and store owners assess performance. Being objective while reporting is another skill when creating a report. It is not your job to make suggestions for actions to be taken. if you receive poor service from a member of the wait staff at a restaurant, resist stating that you think they should be reprimanded or fired. Subjective reports will often be sent back, negatively affecting your reputation. Subjective questionnaires are also less professional and may come off as skewed. 

Instead, just write down the facts and stay objective. Include pertinent details and keep in mind that your questionnaire may affect business tactics and service methods, so offering the best information possible is essential.