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How to conduct a phone shop for a bank

If you're ready to try your hand at racking up mystery shopping income through several quick assignments, consider making bank phone calls. These assignments are among the highest-paying phone shops, according to The Mystery Shop Maven.

What makes this assignment unique
What makes a mystery call just as useful as a visit to the bank? For financial institutions, gaining business often begins with a prospective customer picking up the phone. Shopping for a bank is not a task consumers take lightly - after all, they're investing in a long term relationship and they'll want very detailed information before committing to a decision, said Mystery Shopper Magazine.

Visiting several banks is too time-consuming for most people. The more common strategy is to call multiple banks and visit the top two or three. Potential customers use their phone experience to decide which banks make the cut for an in-person inquiry. For this reason, mystery phone shoppers serve to help banks optimize their customer service over the phone.

Another type of phone assignment asks that you open a credit card account via phone. If you're comfortable with giving personal information, this is a great opportunity. Compensation for these calls is typically on the higher side, and you might find the risk well worth the reward.

Framing your phone call
Your mindset is that of a person who does not want to settle for anything less than exactly what he or she wants. Your mission for the assignment could be a simple fact-finding one or could entail a complex conversation. Perhaps you just need to know types of accounts and corresponding interest rates. You might be evaluating how attuned phone personnel is to indirect conversational clues. For example, does the customer service representative notice an opportunity for cross-selling based on implicit hints of what you are looking for?

Set the stage right away by establishing your purpose for the phone call. If the customer service representative begins by inviting you to visit the bank, let them know you're interested in narrowing down your choices first. This is not an unusual thing for bank personnel, so don't worry about appearing suspicious.

You don't need to give your actual name, even if you anticipate a follow-up visit. During your trip to the bank, you can simply reiterate that you're still deciding on where you want to open an account. Be firm in conveying that you're not ready for commitment that day, and no one will press you for an ID to open an account.

Don't skip studying
As with every other assignment, you want to know your backstory through and through. Your cover might be that you are new in town and want to find a bank with whom you can establish long-term loyalty. Maybe you're an established local resident who wants an account with lower fees than what your current bank can offer.

You can use your notes for reference during the call but you still want to familiarize yourself with guidelines before picking up the phone.

Just because you don't need to worry about your tell-tale face, don't think the person on the phone line won't notice stammers or long pauses. If you appear to not know what questions you want to ask about your own interests, your identity as a mystery shopper is going to be very obvious.

Heads up: your assignment might call for a follow up visit, so take detailed notes of the phone call. The details you give over the phone are likely to jog the memory of someone during your in-person visit, so you want names and stories to match up.

Good luck!