Secret shoppers enjoy freebies and impact customer service
For the past nine years, Kirkland Johnson has spent life like most African American consumers. He has eaten at fast-food restaurants like Chick-fil-A, Burger King, and McDonald's, and dined at the Olive Garden. He has shopped at Best Buy for computer software or microwave ovens, and lodged at inns like Le Meridien Hotels and Resorts. And, like many consumers, he has studiously observed the type of customer service he received, analyzed the type of product he purchased, and scrutinized the cleanliness of his surroundings.
But unlike the majority of consumers, Johnson gets paid for doing all of these things. In addition, all of the services and products he receives are free. Why? Johnson is a part-time professional mystery shopper. He is hired by corporations or mystery-shopper companies to go into businesses as a customer to make purchases. As part of his job, he fills out evaluation forms recounting the type of service he received. In return, he gets paid more than $10,000 per year in cash and services.
How many times have you gone to the management of an establishment to voice your concerns about customer service and wondered if you were really heard? The truth of the matter is business owners really want to hear from you. Your voice counts regarding extraordinary customer service, superior product quality, and the exceptional cleanliness of an establishment. You can be heard and get paid for helping to ensure that future customers get great service when they patronize companies.
"I became a mystery shopper because my clients wanted to know how their businesses were run when they were not there," says Johnson, a full-time restaurant consultant who works as a liaison between franchise and corporate restaurants. "How many times have you gotten dissatisfactory service and felt that no one cares? I'm delighted to be a part of companies that take customer service as seriously as I do. I absolutely love it. It's easy money. I get all sorts of free stuff, and there is the element of being a private eye."
Employees do not know who mystery shoppers are. They blend in with the regular customers. Mystery shopping jobs can be in department stores, fastfood restaurants, the post office, hair salons, doctor's offices, movie theaters, gas stations, grocery stores, and car dealerships, to name a few places.
"Any business that deals with customers has a need for mystery shoppers," says Cathy...