A Digital Voice Recorder (DVR) is a great tool for mystery shoppers. It can help you get timings, make it easy to add details (such as exactly what the salesperson said) to your reports, and more.
But if you have never used a DVR while mystery shopping, you might wonder how you can record, and get a good quality recording, without anyone knowing. It is easier than you might think. Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your DVR.
Do not simply drop the recorder in the pocket of your pants or in your purse. I did this once and could not understand a thing on the recording. Fortunately, this was when I was practicing, and it was not a real shop.
One secret to getting the best quality recording is to use a small external microphone. The built-in microphones on most DVRs are satisfactory for voice memos and other applications, but will not produce the best quality if you are not speaking directly into the microphone. There are tips about buying a digital voice recorder and microphone here.
I clip the microphone to my bra, and run the cord down through my blouse to the recorder, which I put in the pocket of my pants, skirt or jacket. The microphone could also be clipped or taped inside your shirt (for those of the male persuasion, who do not wear a bra). Make sure there is no telltale “lump” under your shirt, or a cord peeking out from your shirt or pocket.
Check the settings on your recorder, too. Do a test to see where the volume should be set. Too low and you will not be able to hear the recording. Too high and the recording may be distorted. Make sure there is plenty of memory available to capture the entire shop. And, of course, use fresh batteries.
Many digital voice recorders include a lock switch. After pressing “Record,” flip the lock so that you can not accidentally turn off the recorder. Without the lock, bumping against something might stop the recording in the middle of the shop. Or, even worse, stop the recording and start playback.
Start the recording and flip the lock before you enter the shop location. I start the recorder while I am still in the car. After putting the recorder back in my pocket, I state the time. That way, when I go back to the recording I can calculate the correct times to verify my timings. You might also say where you are, especially if you are doing several shops in a row. So, for example, you might say, “It is exactly 12:34 p.m. I am about to enter the Acme Hardware Store at 257 Main Street in Houston, Texas.”
Make a couple of practice runs when you are not actually mystery shopping. With experience, you will learn how to get the best recording. You will also get used to the recorder and microphone and will not be self-conscious.
Do not turn off the recorder until you are away from the shop location and can not be seen.
It is not usually necessary to listen to the entire recording while writing your report. You can fast forward through the recording to pick up the information you need. If you are verifying timings, most DVRs show the elapsed time. So, for example, you can find the point where you placed your order, note the time, then fast forward to when it was served to determine how long it took to get your food.
There are some cautions about using DVRs on shops. Some mystery shopping companies do not want secret shoppers to use DVRs or other recording devices during shops, so read the guidelines.
Recording conversations without the consent of all parties is not legal in some states. Learn about legal issues regarding recording here. If you live in a state requiring the consent of all parties, read this post about how you can still legally use a DVR.
A digital voice recorder can be a useful tool to make mystery shopping easier. With just a little practice, you will discover how helpful a DVR can be.