If you are new to mystery shopping, it may come as a surprise to you that acting is a substantial piece of what you will be doing. Even if you are not Tom Hanks or Meryl Streep, you will often be required to be the star of the show in many mystery shopping assignments. Mystery shopping companies and their clients will have very specific requirements for assignments and frequently these scenarios do not mesh with what is happening in your 'real' life. Are you really in the market for a new 42" TV? Ready to purchase a BMW? Want to make 1,000 copies of some silly document? Nope......thus, the need for acting. Don't let the prospect of this turn you away from taking assignments or strike you numb with stage-fright....here are some helpful tips to coax you onto center stage.
Read The Guidelines Thoroughly
While this is sage advice for any assignment, really take a peak to see if you will need to act out a certain scenario. Seasoned shopping professionals can pretty quickly scan the project documents and requirements for these key pieces.
Ask Your Scheduler If You Can Modify
For example, if you are supposed to pose as someone looking for a nursing home for your parent and you are only 21 years old, you may want to ask the scheduler if you can pose as someone looking for placement for their grandparent. Be sure to ask upfront if you can make these adjustments (no matter how small they may seem to you) prior to completing the assignment.
Develop The Story In Advance
Like any actor preparing for a part, you need to craft a storyline to accompany your assignment. I cannot emphasize enough how important this is and how this will make the project so much more comfortable for you. For instance, if you are posing as someone looking for a laptop for your college aged child, think about:
- The child's name
- His or her college
- Their major
- Their age
- Why you are replacing their laptop
- What they like to do on their computer (e.g., gaming, listening to music, writing poetry)
Remember, the person at the store doesn't know you and does not know your story. Even if you may feel butterflies, they will never know. Don't look down, squirm, stutter, or refer to any notes. If you need to make up details of your story on the spot, just do it. They are thinking of you as a customer and nothing else. In fact, most employees have little idea that mystery shopping is even occurring at their store.
Acting Versus Lying
So, isn't this just lying? How can I live with that? Is my moral compass broken?! No, this is just acting. This is a method to provide critical information to the owner of the store. In some cases, the employee may be bonused for exceptional sales ability. In some other instances, the store may offer additional training to employees whose skills are lacking. Relax...no one is going to Hell for acting out a mystery shopping script.