Video mystery shopping tips and tricks

Experienced mystery shoppers looking to take their talent to the next level may want to consider video mystery shopping.

Experienced mystery shoppers looking to take their talent to the next level may want to consider video mystery shopping. This form of work requires the shopper to wear a hidden camera with a built-in microphone as they complete a job. As one can imagine, this takes a completely different set of skills, which is why these jobs often pay more than regular shops.

Cathy Stucker, author of Mystery Shopper's Manual, notes that typically secret shoppers do not have to write up reports after finishing a video gig. However, each client has different requirements, so make sure the guidelines are clear before beginning. Whatever the details, mystery shoppers interested in trying out video shopping should be prepared for a unique assignment. The key to a successful shop is practice and preparation.

Equipment
Stucker states that often the camera and microphone necessary to complete a video job will be given out by the mystery shopping company. After a while, if one decides to continue performing video operations, investing in a personal camera is probably a good idea. Since the device needs to be hidden, make sure to research and test out several different models to guarantee the one purchased will work for mystery shopping. A memory card with a lot of available space is also essential, as is a device or cable that can transfer footage from the camera or card into a computer.

Practice, practice, practice
Practicing with the equipment cannot be overstated! Knowing how to stand so the camera captures full images is is crucial to completing a successful shop. Get a feel for the way certain fabrics sound in the microphone because if a noisy raincoat prevents dialogue from coming through, the footage is basically useless. If a camera is hidden in a purse or bag, find out exactly which way to turn it so it captures the best picture. 

Act natural
Part of practicing should include simply getting used to having a camera on during an interaction with other people. Wearing it around family or friends and asking them to point out each time the camera is fiddled with or looked at will help deter these unconscious motions that would otherwise give away the shop. Begin and end recording in the car or parking lot so those being shopped are not aware.

Though it may feel strange, repeating what an employee says can help reinforce the experience of a video shop. If there is music playing or other customers chatting, using repetition as a natural way of clarifying what the employee says can help improve the sound captured on the microphone.

Know the rules
As with any job, it is important to understand the rules so the game can be played fairly. In many states, it is illegal to record someone without their permission. Make sure the business being shopped has notified their employees at one time or another that they may be recorded for quality assurance. As long as they have given consent, a video shop can be conducted.

Morality
Mystery Shopper Magazine encourages secret shoppers to consider their own values when thinking about taking on a video shop. This is because filming and recording another person without their knowledge may feel wrong to some people. If a job results in a party other than the client spending time, money or energy on tasks that will ultimately not benefit them in any way, it is up to the shopper to make the decision whether or not to accept the shop. Each shopper needs to know where to draw his or her own line.