What Is a Secret Shopper?

A secret shopper is a job that makes all specialists from the service sector tremble with fear. Try yourself out in this sphere!


Have you ever dreamed about a highly-paid part-time job, which offers you an opportunity to sway the destinies of other people, and attend restaurants, supermarkets and other nice-looking places?

You may not believe my words but there are people who have such a wonderful job, and they are called secret shoppers.

Nowadays this profession which makes all specialists from the service sector tremble with fear is very popular. Besides, such job is affordable for people of different ages and social status, i.e. for students who belong to different social groups, retired old ladies or young women who are currently on the maternity leave.

What is a secret shopper?

It is a person, who attends different companies and pretends that he/she wants to buy a certain product, analyzes the competence and readiness to help of the employees, the cleanness of the premises, the placement of the goods on the shop windows, and other nuances that may interest his/her company and their business rivals, partners or other companies who carry out sociological studies.

The main responsibility of a secret shopper consists in evaluating the work of sellers, waiters, cashiers, managers and other representatives of the service sector. He/she has to analyze not only the competence of the employees, but the activity of the company in whole. For example, a secret shopper has to check the cleanness in restrooms, the correspondence between the menu and the dishes, etc. Such “spy” has to figure out whether this restaurant or store sells alcoholic drinks to teenagers and whether the dishes served here are tasty.

Secret shoppers usually do not make any purchases. If there is a need to buy something during the inspection, such purchase has to be paid by the specifiers. Companies who organize these inspections and hire secret shoppers not only try to save as much money as possible, but also want to analyze the reaction of the manager or seller to client’s refusal to buy something.

Read also: How to Sell on the Phone?

Secret shoppers: why are they so important for the heads of the company?

“Getting service right is more than just a nice to do; it is a must do”.
Jim Bush

Only 5-7 years ago this profession has not been popular in our country yet. The level of company service depended only on its administration. If the heads of the company wanted to attract as many clients as possible, they had to take care of their employees on their own.

However, with the appearance of great amount of supermarkets, catering companies, gas stations, private clinics and beauty salons, many companies realized the need of fighting for their clients.

Obviously, one of the important factors of successful business is the company’s pricing policy. For example, a person who earns 1000 hryvnyas per month won’t dine every day at the restaurant where a cup of coffee costs 100 hryvnyas, no matter how he/she is welcomed there and how well is this person cared about.

Nowadays clients are very spoilt, and they want to receive the best possible service.

The administration of the companies has gradually understood that the best ways to understand customers’ needs is to question them. Obviously, you may ask your clients several questions at the exit of the store, however, not every person would like to spend his/her time on answering questions, especially if he/she is in a hurry. The heads of the companies realized that the most effective solution to this problem is the attraction of professionals, who will analyze the functioning of the inspected company and point all possible mistakes.

Thus, the profession of a secret shopper has become very popular since.

What is a secret shopper and what qualities should he/she possess?

This job reminds the work of a spy. Although you do not have to study hard for a very long time in order to become a secret shopper, don’t think that you can start working without preliminary training and instructions.

Every person can obtain the profession of a secret shopper. However, the preference will be given to those who:

  1. Have the experience of working in the service sector, thus, know this business quite well.
  2. Have such qualities as attentiveness, responsibility, perseverance, sociability, insistence, punctuality, and good memory (keep in mind that you won’t be able to carry a notebook around and write down all your remarks during inspection).
  3. Are psychologically adequate, stable and calm.
    If you start panicking, behaving nervously and constantly turning around, the seller may guess about the inspection.
  4. Are good actors.
    Sometime the specifiers ask secret shoppers to play a mini-performance in order to check the employees’ stress tolerance and their ability to cope with different situations and clients.
  5. Are not over-compassionate.
    People who feel sympathy towards the employees of the company under inspection won’t be able to complain about them.
  6. Have a Dictaphone or similar device for recording of the conversation with the employee.

Secret shoppers don’t have problems with finding a job. Many marketing companies often look for new employees who can do “business espionage” for them. Here belong such well-known companies as “Adjutor”, “IRS Group”, “Marketing Lab”, etc.

If you want to start working as a secret shopper, you have to keep in mind that this job will not make you rich. Usually a secret shopper receives from 50 to 300 hryvnyas per task, depending on the difficulty of the inspection. Some companies pay after every single task.

Besides, you have to remember that this job is part-time. For example, you may receive only 1-2 orders per week, that’s why you should consider this job as an additional source of income.

Secret shopper: why do the employees of service sector fear it so much?

Usually secret shoppers are disliked by other employees of service sector. Such people call them squealers, skunks, and so on. However, our country needs such specialists very much, because the service sector here is far from being perfect.

Obviously, it is not easy to cater for people for 10-12 hours per day, but nobody makes you choose this profession is you cannot cope with it. If you don’t want to deal with spoilt clients and work as a night watchman or a storekeeper, you should get a proper education and choose another occupation.

Some time ago I encountered with a situation when my aunt who worked at the meat department of the supermarket, told me about a horrible secret shopper, who complained about her rudeness and lack of professionalism to the administration of the store.

I asked her what particularly the customer complained about. And what do you think she answered? She said that “these stupid customers don’t know what they actually want, they ask to show them a hundred different pieces of meat, and then they start complaining about the price of the products, ignoring the fact that work day starts at 8 a.m.”

As you can see, my aunt doesn’t have a proper attitude towards her customers, and I can assure you that such “aunts” work at every single supermarket in our country.

The profession of a secret shopper will always be popular, thus, you have a real opportunity to earn some money!

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