Telephone mystery shops involve calling a client location and interacting with one or more employees over the telephone. Sometimes the entire shop is conducted over the telephone, and in other cases the mystery shop includes both the call and an in-person visit.
The information that the client wants from a telephone shop relates to the same issues as in-person shops: Were employees courteous? Were they able to provide accurate information to the customer? Did they follow proper sales procedures?
When doing a telephone mystery shop, you may complete a written report or the mystery shopping company may have you record the call and submit the recording as your report.
Here is what you can expect when completing a mystery shopper job involving a telephone shop.
Report forms may include questions such as: How many rings before the phone was answered? Did the employee give a full greeting? Were you put on hold? For how long? Did the employee ask before putting you on hold? Was the employee able to answer your question? Did the employee thank you for calling? Did they suggest that you come in to the store? Were you able to make an appointment at the time you requested? If not, did the employee suggest an alternative day or time? Did the employee confirm your appointment time?
Many restaurant mystery shops require that you complete a telephone shop before your visit. During the call you may make a reservation, or ask directions, hours or other questions.
Telephone call centers, such as reservation offices for airlines and rental car companies, or catalog order centers, may be mystery shopped. You may make a reservation or purchase, or simply request information.
Some telephone shops use a service to record the call for you. You dial a toll-free number and use the service to call the client. The service records the call and sends the recording to the mystery shopping company.
The mystery shopping company may ask if you own equipment to record calls. There are several ways to do this. Radio Shack sells devices that connect to your phone line and to a tape recorder, digital recorder or computer. Because it records directly from the phone line, you get a good quality recording. If the company wants you to own equipment, they may be able to suggest good choices.
Are you wondering about the legality of recording telephone conversations? Legal issues vary by state. Some are “all-party consent” states, meaning that all parties to the conversation must be aware of the recording and give their consent. If you are asked to record in an all-party consent state, verify with the mystery shopping company that they have consent forms on file. Usually, the employer gets the employees to sign consent forms as part of the hiring process or during the annual benefits enrollment.
Many states are “one-party consent” states. That means that if one party to the call is aware of the recording and gives consent (That’s you!) it is legal to record the call. You can see a summary of laws by state at http://www.rcfp.org/taping.
I live in a one-party consent state, and I often record telephone shops even when I am not required to submit the recording to the mystery shopping company. Having the recording to review makes it easier to get the details I need to produce a great report. Of course, this would not be appropriate if you or the employees are located in an all-party consent state or if the mystery shopping company has advised against recording the call.
If you do not record the call, take extra time to prepare so you know exactly what you are to listen for on the call. Take notes while on the call, if possible, and make detailed notes as soon as you hang up.