Using your smartphone in mystery shopping

There are plenty of ways your regular, everyday mobile device can come in handy when mystery shopping.

A key to mystery shopping is blending in. When a secret shopper is at a location, his or her experience should be as genuine and authentic as anyone else's. Blowing your cover can impact how you are treated as a customer and alter the report you will file when the mystery shopping is completed.

Yet while a shopper wants to act like everyone else, he or she must also pay close attention to details. If the task you are completing is a lengthy one - such as an overnight stay at a hotel or a long meal at a restaurant - it may be helpful to take notes, in order to remember specific instances you will want to reference later. But pulling out a pad of paper and pen is not the best way to blend in at a five-star steakhouse.

Thankfully, your smartphone can be a great assistance in that setting. There are plenty of ways your regular, everyday mobile device can come in handy when mystery shopping.

By using the memo or notes feature on their phones, secret shoppers can record the details they feel are important. The phone can also help time-stamp these notes, helping a secret shopper keep track of when things took place during shopping. Even if you have to jot down just a few words, those notes can help a lot in the long run.

Another subtle way a smartphone can be useful is through the camera. Some mystery shopping services ask for pictures to help document the business they are looking in to. While it may seem strange, taking photos around a dinner table or in a hotel lobby is no longer considered out of the ordinary. A strong collection of photos can assist your reports and will help serve as a visual reminder of what the shopping experience was like.

The audio recorder function on smartphones is another tool that can come in handy when secret shopping. At some shopping locations, it will be beneficial to hear everything that is going on. While phone microphones are not the strongest, they can pick up noise within proximity. The recorder function also runs while the phone is locked, allowing customers to hide its use.

A secret shopper should not be on his or her phone all the time. Your eyes and ears are still the best way to review a business. But using a smartphone wisely can make the job easier and the reviews more thorough, all while still blending in with other customers.