Banks are frequently mystery shopped, and there are many different types of shops. Secret shoppers may be asked to apply for a loan, ask about opening an account, inquire about investments, or just interact with a teller.
For some bank shops, being a current customer of the bank is required or preferred. For others, it doesn’t matter. If you are a customer of the bank, it is easy to do a transaction such as a deposit or withdrawal. If you are not a customer, you may be able to buy or cash traveler’s checks or complete another transaction that does not require an account. Where you bank doesn’t matter for shops where you inquire about applying for a loan or opening an account, but there are shoppers who have opened multiple accounts so they can easily perform teller transaction shops at many of their local banks.
Here are some additional tips about mystery shopping banks.
Be prepared. You may be presenting a financial profile that varies from your reality, perhaps that you have a large sum of money to invest. Know your scenario well.
Don’t be too knowledgeable about the bank. Don’t say, “I need to speak with a PBR,” just say you want information about opening a new account.
Don’t volunteer a lot of information. Let the employee lead the conversation, and simply respond to their questions.
If you are shopping far from home, have a reason for being in that bank. You are moving to the area, you recently got a job there, etc. “Just passing through” is not a good reason to be there asking about a new account!
Keep your story simple. Don’t make it too complicated to remember.
You may be asked about your current bank accounts and investments, including how much money you keep in your accounts, how many checks you write, if you own your home, if you have consumer loans or credit cards, etc.
Depending on the scenario, you may give your actual information or a fictional profile. The shop guidelines should help you prepare the answers you will need to give. Some shops require that you present a specific scenario, and the guidelines will tell you what responses to give. If you have any questions, ask your scheduler.
Don’t be defensive or difficult about answering these questions. They are asking in order to match you to the best products and services. If you are uncomfortable with some of the detailed questions, you may be able to defer them, saying you would prefer to provide that information after you have selected an account.
Employees may be expected to cross-sell and recommend additional products, or tell you about a promotion, such as a special interest rate on CDs. Listen for this–it is important.
Do not cash a check from a mystery shopping company when you are mystery shopping a bank. (Seems obvious, but it needed to be said.)
Mystery shoppers must be observant, but don’t “case the joint.” Do not do anything that would cause employees to become suspicious or nervous.
Opening multiple accounts in the same day, or conducting transactions at multiple locations, can get you flagged as a security risk. Ask your scheduler how many shops you can do within a given period without being flagged.
If think you have been identified as the shopper or as a security risk, notify your scheduler. The scheduler will handle the situation with the bank. Do not tell the bank employees that you were shopping them.