What is Mystery Shopping; What are its Do’s and Don’ts

Being successful in mystery shopping, like anything else, requires a degree of hard work and perseverance. Jobs and assignments do not fall down out of the sky, and just like any 9-to-5 place of employment, if too many mistakes are made, whether they are unintentional or otherwise, can cause people to be seen as more of a liability, rather than as an asset.

Mystery Shopping

Success Can Happen

Schedulers are not eager to work with difficult people who do not take anything seriously, including guidelines and practices. Having to reschedule and reassign jobs is a nuisance at best, and can cause the schedulers their own level of anxieties. The same holds true for editors – they are not there to nitpick over every misspelled word or misplaced comma, but having to practically rewrite a report for structure and errors is not the highlight of the day.

To enhance the prospects of success in mystery shopping, bear in mind the following:


Complete all jobs that are assigned in a prompt manner.
Be professional with schedulers, supervisors, and anyone else that communicates with you regarding a job.
Read and follow all guidelines for different jobs – even if they are two of the same jobs for the same company. Guidelines can differ subtly from job to job, therefore reading is important!
Use Google Maps or another program to determine where you are going before you leave, even if you have a GPS system.
Contact the scheduler with any questions – immediately! Schedulers are there to help, and they can’t help what they do not know about.
Be as detailed as possible when called for. A report calling for a 3-4 sentence narrative wants to hear the story in complete sentences, not 3-4 words.
Use spell check and grammar check before uploading or turning in any reports.
Complete all paperwork and reports on time.


Cancel a job unless it is absolutely unavoidable. Schedulers have deadlines as well!
Wait until the last minute to complete a job.
Be inconsistent with reporting details. Be as accurate as possible!
Share specific experiences or details with the whole world – being a mystery shopper demands a level of privacy and reservation.
Act as though a babysitter is needed. Schedulers are there to answer any questions, but by and large, mystery shoppers are expected to work independently.
Throw away any proof of a job completed or notes about the same until at least 6 months afterwards.
Try to “wing it”. If a scenario is blown, trying to salvage things will likely only make it worse.
Answer all questions on the report, completely and honestly.
Use excessive judgments. Companies want to know the facts, but seldom ask for opinions.
Wait to return a message if a scheduler has called to speak in person.
Ever admit to being a mystery shopper while on a job!

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

Don’t ever be afraid of making a mistake or forgetting a detail, especially when starting out. Schedulers and others are there to help, and they know that no one is perfect. Editors will look over the reports and tell the shoppers clearly what is needed to improve the report for the client. However, constantly putting the pressure back on their shoulders will not endear a mystery shopper to anyone, and soon enough their patience can wear thin.

Remember – manners and professionalism go a long way, even when working as an independent contractor among people that show little probability of ever meeting in person with a mystery shopper. Along with that, a little common sense, even when mystery shopping is “just” a second income can go a long way towards bringing in a respectable income by mystery shopping!

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