7 Mystery Shopping Tips

How to Enhance Your Recall During and After Your Shop

7 mystery shopping tips

One of the biggest challenges we face as shoppers is remembering all of the details for our reports and recounting them accurately and objectively.   The mystery shopping tips provided here are from actual mystery shoppers, and should help enhance your experiences.

I must admit, I was a little overwhelmed after my first on-site mystery shop.   I opened the report, and my stomach was in knots.  I remember thinking, “How can I possibly remember everything, and how can I submit a report if I DON’T remember everything exactly as it was?”  I said to myself, “This is like filling out a Police report!”  The Who, What, Where, When, and How of mystery shopping can be intimidating.

Mystery Shopping

Well, the truth is, you probably cannot, and will not, remember every single detail, no matter what you do.   But, do not lose heart.  You can stack the deck in your favor by practicing a few simple techniques.  Your mind is a wonderful, amazing thing.  You’ll remember more than you think you will, even if you do not take specific steps to enhance your memory.   Here are some tips I use to maximize my potential for remembering more and for getting to a place where it becomes completely natural, almost second nature.  What we say in our mystery shopping reports matters, especially to the employee who is being evaluated.  Taking a few moments to increase your ability to remember can make a big difference in the quality of your mystery shopping reports.

Here are a few things that I have found help me, and I hope they will be useful for you too!


Mystery shopping tip #1

  • When I arrive on-site, I never just hop out of the car.  Always check the time and make a note of it before leaving the car.  You may think you will remember, but you may not.  Don’t take a chance – get into the habit of checking the time and writing it down every time you arrive on-site for a shop.  (Subsequently, when you return to the car after the shop, get into the routine of checking the time again and writing it down before starting your car.  You will thank yourself later when you are doing your mystery shopping report!


Mystery shopping tip #2

  • Repeat a few things to yourself silently while you are there.  I make a note of, and repeat to myself, the employee’s hair and eye color, and I actually say to myself, silently of course, “Blonde and blue,” or, “Bald and brown.”  You get the idea.  You will be surprised at how well this simple technique works and how it can help you to remember the details about the employee’s appearance.  Again, you think you will never forget but can find yourself straining to remember just a few hours later (especially if you go directly from one shop to another).


Mystery shopping tip #3

  • Once I have made a point to remember what color the consultant’s eyes and hair are, and what they are wearing, I look for a name tag.  Have you ever left a shop and realized that you did not notice, or do not remember this?  Get into the habit of looking for it, and soon you will be doing it without even thinking about it!


Mystery shopping tip #4

  • I look around and make a mental note about my surroundings.  I actually say to myself, “Dark wood desk, blue walls, and brown patterned carpet.”  This sounds simplistic, but there is something about the act of looking at these things and describing them to yourself briefly and silently, or making a “mental note” as a conscious act, that goes a long way toward helping your brain to “do its thing”.   So often, we see, but don’t REALLY SEE what is right in front of us!


Mystery shopping tip #5

  • I try to LISTEN attentively, pay attention to what they say, what questions they ask, how they interact with me as a customer.  Again, LISTEN, AND MAKE MENTAL NOTES ABOUT WHAT IS SAID.  It is possible to get caught up in the shop and realize when you leave that you did not make a conscious effort to notice important components of the shop.  If you just pay attention, listen, and make mental notes to last until you can pull over and actually make written notes, your mystery shopping reports will be more detailed, complete, and accurate.


Mystery shopping tip #6

  • Give every employee the best opportunity to succeed and to shine during your shop.  Don’t do or say anything to discourage them.  The employee’s success depends on you to remember when they do something right and to report it.  Give them your full attention and you will decrease the likelihood of forgetting something important.


Mystery shopping tip #7

  • After getting in the car, jotting down the time, and leaving the location, find a place to pull over out of sight to make notes about the employee’s appearance and any other details you can remember. You can use shorthand as long as you know you can read it later! Any notes you make right after the tour will be extremely helpful to you later when you are completing your mystery shopping report.


See other mystery shopping tips from the pros at Ellis partners in Mystery shopping since 1984.

Finally, relax and have fun!  Mystery shopping provides you with an opportunity to meet new people and to experience things you might not otherwise!  Give it your full attention and allow the employee to do their best.


Sandra S-