I Want to be a Mystery Shopper When I Grow Up

My eight-year-old brought home a “What I Want to Be When I Grow Up” assignment, and I couldn’t wait to see what she would write. Would she choose to be a veterinarian? A lawyer? Perhaps open her own art studio? Or how about aspiring to be the first female President?
No, she proudly announced: I want to be a mystery shopper!
I must confess that I wasn’t too pleased with this at first. A mystery shopper? Why?

But the more I thought about her choice, the more I began to realize the many skills it takes to be an effective mystery shopper.

Ability to Write
If there’s one skill that I, as a former teacher, wish more adults had, it’s the ability to write clearly. This ability is lacking in so many people, yet it’s a skill that we hone every day as mystery shoppers. Not only do we need to use correct grammar and spelling, but we must learn to adapt to varying requirements of the many different companies for which we work. Mystery shopping clearly isn’t a job for grammar slackers!

Attention to Details
Mystery shoppers must pay attention to details – after awhile, it becomes almost second nature, and I find myself noting every nuance at a store or restaurant even when I’m not shopping. My daughter sometimes struggles with details, so a job where those bits are crucial would be excellent training for her as she develops this skill.

I don’t know many jobs that require one to assume more responsibility and initiative than mystery shopping. A shopper must sign up with dozens of different companies, keep track of log ins, remember when and how to sign up for jobs from all these companies, insure that she completes each shop she signs up for, and enter results within the required time frame. She needs to remember whether to bring a recorder or camera, and to be sure those items have fresh batteries and are in working order. This is no job for a sluggard!

Mystery shoppers need to be flexible. When we’re in a store, ready with our scripted question, and an unseen situation arises, can we think on our feet and still make the required scenario work? Or what about when a scheduler requests a last-minute change in a shop? Shoppers develop great skill in making changes and still continuing the seamless flow of a typical customer interaction that won’t give us away.

I remember my first mystery shopping job, just months after I graduated from college. The skills I’ve sharpened over the years as a shopper have made me a better person and a more responsible adult.

On second thought, I can’t think of a better career choice for my daughter to aspire to!

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