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It's a great time to be a mystery shopper

Right now, it is a great time to be a mystery shopper. A combination of national consumer trends and the onset of the spring season should motivate current and prospective mystery shoppers to seek out opportunities.

Consumer sentiment
The University of Michigan's March report on consumer sentiment displayed a drop in satisfaction. Optimism about the U.S. economic conditions waned, especially among the lower- and middle-income households that were surveyed. In February, consumer sentiment was rated at 95.4. This month it came in at 91.2, a decline of 6.5 percent. Consumers' expectations for the economy also faltered, dropping from 88 to 83.7. 

While this information is negative on certain levels, it does mean that businesses may increase their efforts to provide stellar experiences for customers around the country. When people have a poor outlook on the state of the economy or they are unsatisfied with their purchasing power in general, they are less likely to frequent even their favorite stores. These businesses will need to improve their abilities to bring loyal customers back and reassure them that quality customer service and excellent products have certainly not disappeared.

What businesses want
One way that many companies are looking to invest in and boost customer service is through live online chats and phone calls. Ecommerce Weekly reported that providing both telephone agent availability and online chat options were two of the top ways retailers could enhance their customer care. People want immediate attention when something goes wrong and are often asked to respond to short surveys after speaking with agents through these channels. Businesses want to know their customer service personnel are doing a great job.

Mystery shoppers shouldn't limit themselves to shops that take them into stores. There are tons of phone shops and online gigs available that allow shoppers to work from the comfort of their own home. These require excellent communication skills, though they can definitely be a great way to make a little extra cash.

Focus on recent trends
It's also a great idea to take note of consumer trends that have been predicted for 2015. Euromonitor International wrote up a report on the most popular global consumer trends predicted for this year. It's notable that phone agent availability was also listed in this report as something businesses need to provide to customers. Also included were trends associated with female empowerment and millennial participation.

Female empowerment is a strong trend in the fashion and clothing industries these days. Brands are looking for ways to appeal to the female mindset and engage with women on a much more meaningful level. Any retailer interested in the perception women have of its store displays, ad campaigns or overall ambience may be reaching out to female shoppers more frequently for insight. It's also possible that these merchants will want the male perspective; appealing to both viewpoints without alienating one is tricky and businesses need to know how customers really see them.

Many companies are also working hard to engage with millennial consumers. These customers are less loyal to particular brands and more interested in spending money with retailers that are socially-conscious and advocates of social change. Gaining a better understanding of how millennials perceive a particular brand is valuable to business.

Mystery shoppers can use all of this information to their advantage. Search for shops that appeal to these recent trends, especially if you can offer the exact perspective that a company is looking for. Being knowledgeable about the state of the economy and retail trends will make you a more valuable asset to a mystery shopping company and enhance your ability to write stellar reports.