Mystery shopping a win-win

To take advantage of improving consumer sentiment, many businesses - both large and small - are looking to improve their customer service standards and operations.

To take advantage of improving consumer sentiment, many businesses - both large and small - are looking to improve their customer service standards and operations.

While many companies, particularly those in the retail sector, may feel content with their customer service performance, they may be surprised to note how much these practices can impact sales. For example, a recent survey from American Express found 70 percent of Americans are willing to pay up to 13 percent more with businesses they believe provide good customer service.

One of the most common strategies retailers are embracing to research how their employees are engaging with consumers is mystery shopping. The strategy is something of a win-win in that participants are paid to go shopping, and businesses are provided first-hand insight about their own customer service practices.

College student Billy Peterson is one such secret shopper. He finds the job to be a helpful source of revenue and a reliable source of employment - as industry demand remains high.

"I am the middle child in my family and refuse to ask for money [from my family]," Peterson told CBS MoneyWatch. "The way I saw it, mystery shopping was ... fun in most circumstances."