SQM recently answered some questions about mystery shopping for them. Here is what they had to say.
Describe the ideal shopper.
We have shoppers all around the world, ranging from ages 18 an older. Most shoppers do have some education background, usually a minimum of high school completion. Generally though, we do not have a specific description of a shopper. We look for individuals that are mature, reliable and detail oriented. Most importantly, someone eager to get started who has a flexible schedule.
What types of shops does your company do? What types of reports are used?
We have shops in the following industries: Fast Food, Restaurant, Accommodations, Transportation, Auto – Sales and Service, Health/Exercise/Beauty, Parking, Retail – Clothing, Shoes, Sport, Department Stores, Electronics, etc., Telecommunications, Events, Banking, Associations, etc.
We choose our questionnaires based upon the industry and style or type of evaluation being completed. We use everything from tick-box, dialogue list, short narrative and long narrative. We rarely use standardized forms, opting to customize each questionnaire to the needs of the client and their specific project.
What is the best way for a new shopper to get in the door and get a first assignment?
SQM needs Mystery Shoppers daily! It is surprising to many people how easy it is to become a mystery shopper. On our website www.sqm.ca there is a link “become a shopper.” All applicants must click the link, fill out the application and wait to be approved. There is no fee and it is easy to do at home, or anywhere with Internet access.
How long after a shop are your shoppers typically paid? Do you use/require PayPal? Do you plan to?
Payments are sent out in batches and received promptly after assignment completion. The majority of our shoppers use the direct deposit method, however, we also have the option of receiving a cheque.
How can shoppers qualify for your best (highest-paying and most interesting and enjoyable) shop assignments?
We have criteria that must be met to quality for our best shop assignments:
1)History – We look at shoppers past records. Everything from their grammar, to their notes as well as their records with deadlines.
2)Demonstrate willingness to go – When a shopper is contacted they are ready and accept assignments.
3)Flexibility- We look for individuals that are able to complete an assignment during specific times.
4) STEP – Shopper Training Educational Program – the SQM training program which has levels 1-9. The higher the level a shopper achieves, the better the opportunities.
We maintained a record on each shopper and later, these attributes are used to determine who qualifies for any given assignment.
What are the biggest challenges facing mystery shopping companies today?
It is difficult for Mystery Shopping companies to recruit Mystery Shoppers. Currently there are many scams, where the returns “look too good to be true” and people get taken advantage of. When people hear about these experiences they become nervous about signing up and are no longer are interested in the opportunity. Our challenge is being able to stand out from these companies that scam shoppers and attract those that are truly interested in participating in mystery shopping with an honest company.
What do you see as the future direction of mystery shopping?
We believe that companies in the service industry will continue and increase their use of Mystery Shopping to monitor their brand standards. We predict an increase because these companies realize that while comment cards and feedback are great, they do not give detailed information directly about their brand standards. Because we predict an increase in use as well as understanding and importance of Mystery Shopping, we also believe that the qualifications of Mystery Shoppers will improve. It is also important to note that while Mystery Shopping companies don’t have unlimited funds, once there is an increase of Mystery Shopping, payment will also increase, and only the best will be hired.
Anything else you want to add?
Some advice to all shoppers out there is be cautious but not scared of mystery shopping. There are plenty of legitimate mystery shopping companies and the industry is growing and will continue to do so.
Thank you to the folks at SQM for taking the time to answer our questions. You can learn more about SQM, and apply to be a mystery shopper for them, at http://sqm.ca/.