Dream Careers – Mystery Shopper


Have you ever received poor customer service and wished you could have done something about it? As a mystery shopper you will get paid to tell companies what you think about the service you received.

What They Do

Mystery shoppers are paid to act like customers and shop at stores, stay at hotels, and dine at restaurants. They provide feedback to companies about various areas of their businesses, such as customer service, cleanliness, store appearance and staff efficiency.

Only five percent of customers actually register complaints when they are dissatisfied, while the other 95 percent simply never return. Because of this fact, companies hire mystery shoppers to find out what an average experience in their store or restaurant is really like, without the artificial preparations that often happen when the boss is around. The companies use this feedback to improve their standards of service.

Mystery shoppers are usually independent contractors who work from home when they are not out on assignment. They apply and are selected for mystery shopping assignments. They will visit the business in question, and then fill out a questionnaire with questions about cleanliness, service, staff’s product knowledge, and efficiency. In some cases, shopping assignments may even take place online. As a mystery shopper you will do some or all of the following:

  • Apply for mystery shopping jobs
  • Schedule assignments into your week
  • Review assignment details to prepare for your visit
  • Prepare questions to ask service providers
  • Visit the selected business and discreetly note appropriate details
  • Fill out and submit a report about your experience
  • Keep records of completed assignments and payment


Who is Likely to Succeed

The best mystery shoppers have excellent powers of observation, good judgment, integrity, and the motivation to seek out assignments regularly. They are not easily flustered, and don’t mind traveling to jobs within about a 60-mile radius. They are colorful writers who can truly paint a visual picture of an experience.

If you are organized, on time, and reliable, you already have three of the most desired characteristics in this industry. Many mystery shopping companies prefer to hire shoppers that have retail or customer-service experience.

How to Learn It

The next time you have a remarkably good or poor shopping, dining, or service experience, don’t just brag or complain to your friends about it. Instead, write up a detailed report about your experience, including the date and time of your visit, and a description of what happened. Use interesting language, and include as many details as you can remember.

What you do with your practice reports is up to you. You can send them to the store manager or company headquarters, chances are you might even get a reply or some free coupons in the mail for your effort. You can also post your reviews on websites like www.epinions.com for other consumers to read and comment on, or combine them into a mystery shopping website or blog that you update frequently.

The Secret Shopper Company and The National Center for Professional Mystery Shoppers & Merchandisers offer online learning opportunities and conferences where you can learn the basics of the business and get certified. You can also learn a lot by visiting mystery shopper chat boards, where shoppers come together to ask questions and discuss experiences.

In most places, you can begin work as a mystery shopper as soon as your application is accepted by an agency or company. Books like the FabJob Guide to Become a Mystery Shopper by Lauren Morgan have information on how to learn the ropes and land your first assignment.