Increasing your observational skills will definitely pay off as you become more involved in the world of mystery shopping. What clients most want from their mystery shoppers is the ability to observe fine details and record them precisely. For example, if you could determine the exact number of minutes it took to wait in line for a service, that would be a huge benefit to a company that wants information about the average customer's experience. Additionally, being able to see very quickly whether the clothes in a display rack have been put in the right order or if they are disarrayed is good, but observing how long it took an employee to rearrange the clothes would be even better.
Here is some advice for honing your powers of observation:
Write things down in your phone. It's rather suspicious if you keep a notebook with you to record information, but if you tap little notes into your smartphone, it will look like you are texting someone. Record the time it takes to wait in line, and write down any other details about timing, such as the time it takes before someone begins talking to you about buying a product if you happen to be in a store with sales personnel. A furtive glance at your watch won't necessarily tip someone off, but if you look at your watch and then begin texting on your phone, it could be a little suspicious. Try to remember what the time was, and then begin typing later. Honing your short term memory skills will be a good way of doing this. Also, be sure your watch is digital, so you don't have to make estimations by looking at the minute hand.
Practice active observation. One of the talents worth developing is to be observing things all the time, according to Business Insider. While this doesn't mean you need to record every detail in a report, it would help if you pay attention to anything you think someone might be interested to know, such as the conversation you had with the cashier or the clerk at the dressing room. This doesn't mean writing down the actual conversation, but it may help if you put a note like, "everyone at the store is very friendly," or "The people were especially chatty during the morning shift on Saturday." Pay attention also to dress, as some stores enforce the dress code very strictly. It's likely you will receive notes about what to look for, but remember not to discard every other detail. If the information you receive through active observation pertains to your shopping experience in a way you think would help others improve customer experience, then as a mystery shopper, it's your responsibility to report it. Something as trivial as the strong smell of perfume might be important because perfume may not be allowed for workers during their shifts.
Be mindful. According to Make Art Transform Life, the skills of a great artist come from being mindful. This might seem like it wouldn't apply to the world of mystery shopping, but many observations that pass unnoticed by the casual visitor cannot escape the attention of a truly excellent mystery shopper. This applies to the above advice, as well, but the focus here is less on noticing everything and more on never letting your attention wander from the job. While you want to experience the store primarily as a shopper, and therefore ought to be rather casual as you go about your business, don't forget to look at your watch when you make it to the front of the line, and don't forget to listen carefully to the wording that is used when someone is telling you about a product.
By honing your powers of observation, you may find that writing the reports at the end of an assignment becomes much easier, which in turn will improve your odds at getting more mystery shopping jobs.