One thing you never do when secret shopping is identify yourself as the mystery shopper. That is why they call it “secret” shopping. The exception to this rule is when you are doing a reveal shop, also known as a reward shop. These shops can be great fun, because not only do you get to tell them that you are the mystery shopper, you get to . . .
give out prizes! That is, you may get to give a reward to an employee, if they meet all of the criteria. Here is how reveal shops work.
A reveal shop will be clearly identified as such in the shop description. The mystery shopping company may send you gift cards or other prizes to be awarded, or you may be asked to download and print certificates. Rewards may be anything from a t-shirt to a $25 gift card, or a check, or a day off with pay.
You will be told what employees have to do to receive the reward. For example, they may have to mention a promotion or suggest a specific product. Or they may have to do several things correctly, such as giving you a proper greeting, telling you about the specials, suggesting a dessert, and thanking you by name.
During the shop, you watch and listen for the employee to do what is required. If they do, you get to announce yourself as the shopper and present the reward. Sometimes you will immediately award the prize. For example, when the employee mentions the Back to School Computer Finance Special, you say, “Congratulations! I am the mystery shopper, and you just won . . .” In other cases, you will wait until the end of the shop and announce yourself to the employee or manager.
What happens if the employee does not earn the reward? That depends on your shop guidelines. In some cases, you will leave without identifying yourself as the secret shopper, then report what happened to the secret shopping company. If you received gift cards or other prizes, you will be instructed how to return them to the company.
Sometimes, though, you will have to inform the employee and/or the manager that you are the mystery shopper and the employee did not qualify for the reward. That sounds harder than it is. On my first reveal shop, the employee, although he did a great job, did not meet all of the criteria to get the reward. I asked for the manager and informed him. He actually apologized to me!
There is one drawback to doing reveal shops. Once you have identified yourself as the secret shopper, you may not be able to shop that location again for a while. Of course, on the bright side, if you return as a customer you will get great service!