The complete checklist to spotting a Mystery Shopper

Does the company you work for have a Mystery Shopping program? Do they recruit Mystery Shoppers or Secret Shoppers to measure your customer service? If you answered yes, then read on because we’re going to share our tips for how to spot the Mystery Shopper so you’ll never get caught out again!

We’re a Mystery Shopping provider and we have clients in almost every industry. From retail, hospitality, pharmaceutical, laser clinics, even vet clinics – you name it. We’ve been helping our clients for over 17 years and we often get asked how to spot a Mystery Shopper.  

We’ve all heard the stories of Mystery Shoppers who aren’t so mysterious. Some have walked into a retail store with a clipboard and a pen, ready to mark off their survey while they shop. Others have not-so-hidden cameras or microphones to record everything for later. Some have announced themselves as the Mystery Shopper (#facepalm) and some keep doing the same assignments month after month because the provider can’t get anyone else to do the job. These are what we call “Obvious Mystery Shoppers” and while they are easy to spot and fun to laugh about, they discredit the entire industry. 


Today, we want to talk about the professional Mystery Shoppers. 


These are the shoppers you can’t spot because they are good at what they do. These are the real pros. They look and act just like real customers, so much so, you’d never suspect them. They blend in so well you could be fooled into letting your guard down and giving them minimal service instead of the whole shebang. 

The next thing you know… BOOM!  You’re reading all about it at the end of the month in a low-scoring Mystery Shopper report and you’re busted! You either have to take it on the chin and learn from it so you can do better next time, or you could blame the Mystery Shopper or the questions on the survey. Alternatively, if you don’t like any of those options, you could simply catch the Mystery Shopper before they catch you.


How to spot a Mystery Shopper:


While each Mystery Shopping provider has different standards for their shoppers, this is the checklist for spotting a Mystery Shopper who works for Above Benchmark. You may want to print it out and keep it somewhere handy, but don’t let your manager see it, or they’ll be on to you. 


A customer might be a Mystery Shopper if:


  • They look like a human
  • They are either male or female
  • They are aged between 18-65 (but could look younger or older than their actual age)
  • They will be casually dressed, dressed up, dressed down or wearing a uniform from their day job 
  • They will be alone, with someone else or with a few people (sometimes it might even be children!)
  • They ask for help, or they wait for you to approach them
  • They need a little bit of help or they need a lot of help
  • They know a lot about your products and services, or they don’t know much at all
  • They’ve done business with you before or they’ve never done business with you before
  • You’ve never met them or you know them from somewhere (they might even work nearby!)
  • They change their mind
  • They will ask you to write something down or they don’t want anything written down
  • They are ready to buy or they need more time to make a decision
  • They buy what they asked about, they buy something else, or they don’t buy anything
  • They accept an upsell or add-on or sometimes they decline it
  • They ask a stupidly obvious question or they ask something quite complex


*Please note your Mystery Shopping provider may have different shopper standards and may even employ the “Obvious Mystery Shoppers” we mentioned earlier.

There’s a lot to remember! We know, right? 

But now, it’s Game-On to those sneaky Mystery Shoppers. Who do they think they are;  trying to improve customer service and make some money to boost their income? They aren’t going to catch you out any more. You’ve got the inside scoop on how to spot them. 


How to serve a Mystery Shopper:


Now that you know who they are, here’s what you do.  This is BIG. 

You beat them at their own game and you give them… your biggest smile and some award-winning customer service. Pull out all the stops, tick every box on your customer service policy. Help them. Add-on. Upsell. Tell them about the promo. Do. It. All. Let them put that in their report! Haha who’s laughing now? 

While there’s no actual prize for spotting the Mystery Shopper, there is an upside. You might get recognised and rewarded for giving them stellar service and you could avoid an awkward meeting with your manager where you have to explain yourself. It’s win-win really. 

So remember, Mystery Shoppers could be anyone at any time. They are trained to act like regular customers and blend in – it’s their job and the pros do it well. If you’re still not sure if your customer is the Mystery Shopper and they tick a few boxes on our checklist, give them amazing service, just in case. This is how you protect yourself from getting caught out. 

Here at Above Benchmark we explain to our Mystery Shoppers that it’s their job to catch the Team Members doing the RIGHT thing. With well-designed surveys and crystal clear instructions they are armed and ready to give everyone the opportunity to do well and receive a glowing report. What you get caught for is up to you!