Most people think of stores and restaurants when they think of mystery shopping clients. You know, “get paid to shop and eat.” There are many retail and restaurant chains that use mystery shopping, but it certainly does not stop there.
Just about any organization that has contact with the public may use secret shoppers. That means not only for-profit businesses, but non-profit organizations and government agencies, too.
Secret shoppers may not disclose specific clients for whom they have shopped due to the confidentiality agreements we sign. However, it is acceptable to discuss the types of businesses that get mystery shopped. Here are some of the ones I have heard of. Although this list is far from complete, it will give you an idea of the many industries that rely on mystery shoppers to give them information about their businesses (including some kind of odd ones).
Of course, all kinds of retail stores use mystery shoppers, from small kiosks in the mall to boutiques, specialty stores, outlet malls, giant department stores and discount stores. Likewise, many restaurants, ranging from fast food to fine dining, rely on secret shopping.
Housing shops may include apartment complexes, new home sales, assisted living facilities, etc.
Financial institutions, including banks, credit unions, brokerage houses, insurance companies and others are frequently shopped. Mystery shopper assignments might include inquiring about opening an account, actually opening an account, participating in a transaction (such as making a deposit or cashing a check), viewing a sales presentation, applying for a loan, or other types of transactions the organization offers.
Automotive shops might involve getting service on your car (such as an oil change) or shopping for a new or used car.
Airlines, hotels, casinos, rental car companies and other travel services are mystery shopped, although these shops can be hard to come by. You may also see mystery shops available for movie theaters, bowling alleys, amusement parks and tourist attractions, as well as professional sporting events, such as football games.
Health care providers, including doctors, hospitals and clinics, use mystery shopping services to evaluate customer service but not typically to judge the quality of medical care.
Home services, such as carpet cleaning and maid service, have secret shopping programs that may involve getting services or just an estimate. Other services you might be asked to evaluate include day care centers, salons and spas, florists, and delivery services.
Online businesses use shoppers to evaluate the user-friendliness of their web sites and the service available online and via email.
Now for some of the more unusual shops: I once shopped a hypnotist. Unfortunately, I didn’t get hypnotized (“You will give us a good report…”), I just had to observe their sales presentation.
Shoppers have told me about mystery shopping adult book stores (where they had to make a purchase) and truck stops (where the shopper had to take a shower to evaluate the facilities). I have also seen jobs posted for mystery shops of funeral homes, where the shopper would call to inquire about services.
You can see from this list that the variety of mystery shops available is almost limitless. Of course, you will never have to do a shop that you do not want to do, so don’t worry about having to go to an adult book store. It will not happen. You get to decide which shops you are willing to do.
If you are ready for an adventure, mystery shopping has one waiting for you.