As secret shoppers we are undercover customers who provide feedback to businesses about how they are seen by customers. As implied by the term “secret” shoppers, we must behave in ways that do not result in being identified as secret shoppers.
There are a few simple things secret shoppers can do to avoid being identified. Here are three rules to follow to make sure no one knows that you are the mystery shopper.
Don’t stand out. That means looking and acting like a normal customer. Dress appropriately so you look like other customers. Do not cause a scene or be demanding. Although many people believe it is the job of a secret shopper to make life difficult for employees, that is not the case. We want to be typical and unmemorable. Do your best to blend in with other customers.
Do not tell anyone—even your friends—that you are a secret shopper. The more people who know about your secret shopping adventures, the more likely you are to run in to one of them while you are doing an assignment. Even a well-meaning friend may accidentally out you by joking to an employee, “You’d better watch out—she’s a secret shopper!” while you are talking with an employee. She didn’t mean to blow your cover, she just didn’t think. The problem is that you have been made as the secret shopper, and the shop is now invalid. That means you do not get paid, and it may even affect your ability to get future assignments from that company. There are very few people who need to know that you are a secret shopper. They are the only ones who should know.
Make observations discreetly. When you need to make notes, make sure you can not be observed. Remember that there are cameras everywhere, so even if there are no employees nearby, you may still be seen. Don’t stare at name tags when trying to get employees’ names. Do not take the report form in with you, or talk about mystery shopping with your companions.
Keeping your shopper identity secret is simple, when you follow these three rules.