It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon and, instead of cooking, you decide to order a pizza for delivery from your local pizza joint.
An employee answers the phone, takes your order, and estimates delivery to be within 30 minutes.
You hang up, only to realize you have no idea how much cash to have on hand because the pizza joint employee didn’t give you a total and you didn’t think to ask.
Had you been conducting a telephone mystery shop, you would evaluate your experience based on a set of instructions, which might include whether or not you were given a total without asking and whether the food was delivered on time as promised.
Many people instinctively associate mystery shopping with going to stores, restaurants, and other businesses to evaluate customer service, cleanliness of the establishment, and sometimes to make a purchase.
The majority of mystery shops are just like that: You go into an assigned business, follow the shop’s instructions, return home and complete the shop form, submit receipts for reimbursement, if applicable, and wait to receive payment.
However, mystery shopping isn’t confined to traditional mystery shops anymore. Video, web, and telephone mystery shops have all become popular in recent years. Many different types of companies engage the services of mystery shopping companies to perform telephone mystery shops, including automobile dealerships, apartment complexes, call centers, and any business that deals with customers over the phone.
A telephone mystery shop can help businesses answer several questions including:
• Are employees following company policies?
• Do employees need further training?
• Are employees missing opportunities to make or to close sales?
• How long did the mystery shopper (and presumably other customers) have to wait for an employee to answer the phone? Was the phone answered in a reasonable time?
• Are wait times acceptable or so long that customers or prospective customers are hanging up?
• Is the employee personable, creating conversation rather than just shooting questions at the customer or prospective customer, pressuring him to make a decision?
You may be asked to keep track of several of these issues, including noting how many times the phone rang before the employee answered; whether you were put on hold and, if you were, how long you had to wait; and whether the employee tried to close the sale.
But, businesses don’t just use telephone mystery shoppers to evaluate their businesses. Some business owners want to determine how well their competition is doing. For example, perhaps an automobile company wants to determine how quickly customers can receive an appointment for an oil change with their biggest competitor.
Telephone mystery shops may or may not be recorded, depending on the mystery shopping company and, more specifically, on the particular needs of the business that has hired the mystery shopping company. Unlike video mystery shopping, which requires you to wear video recording equipment, you do not need to borrow or to purchase equipment to successfully complete a telephone mystery shop.
One mystery shopping company, for example, simply requires mystery shoppers to call a toll free number which automatically calls the number of the business being evaluated. At the same time the system dials the phone number of the target business, it automatically begins recording the phone call. When the phone call ends, the system stops recording and the file is automatically uploaded for the mystery shopping company.
Other mystery shops may require mystery shoppers to download software onto their computers that will then allow them to record their mystery shops.
Because expensive equipment is not required and the requirements of a telephone mystery shop generally aren’t as strenuous as those of a video mystery shop, you probably aren’t going to enjoy the same high rate of pay. In fact, payment for telephone mystery shops may start as low as five dollars.
However, telephone mystery shops are popular with many mystery shoppers because they are fairly simple, do not take as much time as a video mystery shop, and the work is completed from home.
Telephone mystery shops are fairly straightforward and easy, especially since you do not have to worry about working with equipment. Be sure you complete the mystery shop on the assigned date and, if specified, at the assigned time. Otherwise, you risk not getting paid.
In addition, always take notes, even if your shop is being recorded. The last thing you want is to have a phone call from an editor asking for clarification you cannot provide.
Sample Telephone Mystery Shop
Perhaps you have been assigned a telephone mystery shop that requires you to evaluable the service of a leasing agent with a local apartment community. Let’s imagine you do not have to record your call for this particular mystery shop. You first read through the instructions of the mystery shop. You are to pretend you are looking for a new apartment, and the goal is to see whether the leasing agent attempts to set up an appointment with you to see the apartment. If he or she does, you will then miss that appointment to determine if the leasing agent follows up with you. However, when the leasing agent calls you back, you are instructed to allow the phone call to go directly to voicemail.
Because the phone call is not being recorded, it is your responsibility to take notes during the conversation. Even if the phone call is being recorded, you may still want to take notes, so you can easily answer any questions on the shop report. You will still be required to fill out a shop report, in which accuracy is essential.
Note taking is particularly important if the phone call is not being recorded, especially if you do quite a bit of mystery shopping. In addition, if an editor contacts you with a question about your mystery shop, you can quickly and easily look over your notes and provide the editor with an accurate answer.
Telephone mystery shopping can be an enjoyable and an easy way to make extra money from home. To find telephone mystery shops, check out the Mystery Shopping Providers Association Job Board at http://mspa.jobslinger.com/exec/sfs/jobboard.