Most of the time mystery shoppers enter businesses as themselves. They use their real names (if any name at all) and they just act like normal customers. However, there are times when, as a mystery shopper, you may have to pretend to be someone you are not. It might mean posing as the mother of a toddler for whom you need daycare, a parent who needs an assisted living facility, as a bride-to-be, someone looking for an apartment or a new bank, a pet owner or any number of possible situations.
Although it can be fun to act the part of someone else, it can also be a little scary. What if they ask a question and you are unsure how to answer? Or what if you forget what you told them earlier and give inconsistent information?
I once did a series of shops where I had to make appointments using different names. I am used to being called “Cathy,” so it wasn’t natural to respond when someone called Ann, Nancy or Karen. In preparing for those mystery shops, I had to remember who I was that day, and make sure I answered to the correct name. That is not as easy as it may seem!
Here are some tips for keeping your facts straight when you are using a scenario on a mystery shop.
Know the guidelines inside and out. It is always important to study the guidelines, but it is especially important when the shop includes a specific scenario you must follow. Are they certain answers they want you to give, or should you come up with your own answers? What is the objective of the shop? The shop objective may influence how you answer certain types of questions.
Ask your scheduler for guidance. If you are unsure about how something should be handled, ask. Your scheduler can tell you what other shoppers have done, and how the client wants the shop scenario presented. Do not be afraid to ask for advice.
Keep the scenario as close to the truth as you can. If you are to make up facts to present, use facts you can easily remember. For example, if you are doing a bridal shop, use the real facts of your wedding when answering questions from the bridal consultant, even if that wedding was 15 years ago. Or imagine someone you know who fits your imaginary scenario, and give the answers they might.
Keep your stories simple. The more elaborate they are, the more likely you are to get confused about the details. Also, the more elaborate the story the more fishy it sounds. Keep it simple.
When the mystery shopping company gives you facts that you are to present in the scenario, learn them completely. The client may have a reason for wanting you to answer questions a certain way, so make sure you get it right.
Don’t stress over it. If you are stressed you will be memorable (a big mystery shopper no-no) and you are also more likely to make mistakes. Be prepared and you will be fine.
If you do make a mistake, get past it. Let’s say that you said your three-year-old’s name was Tom, then you referred to him as Jerry. Oops. Don’t launch in to a big explanation. Just laugh it off and move on, “Oh, my brother’s name is Jerry. Guess I have him on my mind. Anyway…”
Playing a scenario can be fun, but it requires preparation and, sometimes, the ability to think on your feet. Just think of it as improvisational acting, and enjoy yourself!