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Help companies improve customer service

Mystery shopping can be a great way to earn some extra dollars, but it may also be a great way for regular people to help start a sea change for better customer service within retailers. A recent report from American Express found the desires of customers haven't changed over the years, even with added technology and resources. This means that despite all the technical improvements organizations might make, businesses still need to ensure they are keeping people happy. Mystery shopping can be a great way for companies to ensure their customers are staying satisfied. By signing up for assignments, students, parents and others have opportunities make some extra money on the side.

"Customers want access on their terms; fast, effective and personal service when needed; and courtesy, attentiveness and empathetic treatment," Michael Hess wrote on CBS MoneyWatch. "And they will pay more and be more loyal to those companies that hit the mark. So don't undermine your business with systems, policies and processes that seem like good ideas on paper, but in fact move you further away from what customers really want... and always have."

Some issues mystery shoppers will likely have to look for, depending on the job, will include the quality of customer service, as only 7 percent of those surveyed by American Express said interactions with brands exceeded their expectations. Only 23 percent of respondents thought companies went the extra mile for them.

The report said people are willing to spend more money for better customer service. Mystery shoppers will likely have a good feel for bad service versus good service. Three quarters of customer respondents said they have spent more money with a company due to customer service experiences. More than half have decided not to finish a transaction with a shop due to bad customer service. This is something no business can afford, as having consistent and happy shoppers is something that will keep an organization afloat even during hard times.

What does it take to get the best gigs?
Potential mystery shoppers may be ready to help companies improve their customer service, but how can they get the best jobs? Mystery Shopping Providers Association president Mike Green told Monster self-motivation is one of the biggest skills someone looking for this role can have, as he or she will be responsible for managing time and seeking new opportunities. Green said physical stamina and determination to complete several assignments in one day is essential, as well as having a keen eye.

"The best mystery shoppers notice the fine points of a product or service," Monster contributing writer Paul Greenberg wrote. "You should be able to report details the client may not have noticed or considered. For example, if you notice it takes too long to pay for your food at a fast-food counter simply because a worker must take several extra steps to get to the cash register, alerting your client to this may ultimately help it streamline the operation."

To get numerous gigs, workers should apply for as many jobs as they can and be sure to keep in touch with these providers. Each will require a confidential contract is filled out to avoid having the company's workers know about the assignment. There may also be a background check.

Other traits a good mystery shopper should have include:

  • Familiarity with customer concerns and and issues, such as that of this American Express report
  • Computer savvy to easily fill out reports
  • Clear writing so their feedback can be easily understood