Mystery shopping is a hobby for some people, a serious source of income for others, and a scam for those who are not well informed about how it works. The following is information you should understand before you decide to be a certified mystery shopper.
- Determine the qualities and tasks of a mystery shopper. Prior to getting any certification, you have to understand that if you are intent on making money from mystery shopping, you do not only meet but exceed the mystery shopping company’s expectations. Your job is to perform as an undercover customer who will collect information about a company’s quality of product and service, cleanliness of the business environment, queuing time, congeniality and professionalism of employees, and other issues significant to and on behalf of the business owner. You will be visiting various kinds of establishments such as retail stores, malls, restaurants, manufacturers, travel agencies, banks, government agencies, etc. Since you need to gather data that will help the business determine the areas it needs to improve, you must be reliable, highly observant, detail-oriented, and have good writing skills. You will have to report your experience by filling out a report that assesses various areas of the business that the client wants to get information on. Hence, you must write professionally, avoid errors, and complete assignments on time.
- Ensure you get legitimate mystery shopping jobs. Needless to say, scammers are active everywhere. To make sure you are investing your time with a genuine mystery shopping company, get loads of information from the Mystery Shopping Providers Association or MSPA. The organization has a list of approved companies that also support ethical standards. While not all legitimate companies are members of the MSPA, you are safe to deal with a member of the association. Remember that no legitimate mystery shopping company shall collect fees from you. It is not necessary to pay for registration to get job opportunities. Be wary of companies claiming you will get hundreds of dollars per hour or that you will start earning big bucks in no time as that is not how mystery shopping works. Typically, you will be paid per assignment and not per hour. Your pay may vary depending on the length of time required to complete your assignment from the shopping to submission of report.
- Get an MSPA Certification. There are mystery shopping companies that provide free certification programs prior to entrusting you an assignment. The purpose of these programs is only to ensure you understand the requirements of your job and that you comply accordingly. However, the MSPA has two types of certification for mystery shoppers, the Silver and Gold certified shopper. The former may be accomplished online while the latter is obtained by participating in a full-day workshop. The same gold certification may also be acquired by purchasing the Gold DVD Certification. These certifications have corresponding charges though.
While certification is not mandatory to become a mystery shopper, many companies opt for shoppers who are gold certified because the latter are more reliable, methodical, and have an in-depth understanding of the standards and measurements employed in evaluating companies. Hence, if mystery shopping is no longer a hobby for you but a serious job, getting an MSPA certification is recommended.