Mystery Shoppers, Watch Your Language!

“So how would you describe your resident profile?”


And the uncomfortable kind, too. Not just the brief silence as the professional tries to muster through a difficult or odd question.

shutterstock_67784470croppedI could tell immediately the leasing professional – which in this case was the property manager – was very suspicious of me and the possibility that I was a mystery shopper.  Why?  Because the average Joe, whom mystery shoppers are playing on each shop we do, wouldn’t normally have a CLUE what a “resident profile” is or what that question means.  Sure the words make sense when you read them, but it’s just one of those questions that probably would not come out of a normal apartment renter’s mouth.

It’s a lot like the time I went to Olive Garden for lunch. I noticed and happened to mention to my lunch date that there was no spoon in the silverware wrap. Who thinks about this stuff? Mystery shoppers do! So although I was not there to shop them, and if I had been I definitely wouldn’t have made that remark out loud, the waiter overheard me and we got five-star service for the rest of the visit.

This was something I was really focused on when I started mystery shopping – I wanted to feel like I was truly connected to the agent and using their lingo just seemed like the right thing to do.  But trust me it is a dead giveaway when you talk about “market rent”, “concessions”, “units” or the previously mentioned “resident profile”.

In preparation to be a mystery shopper, spend time trying to put yourself in the character of a regular person who would be shopping for what you are. How do they think as a customer, not as the customer service representative?  Watch your language so that you are speaking naturally and you seamlessly blend in as a real customer.

Your mystery shop contract can be completely null and void if your cover is blown.  It’s very difficult to get an accurate shop on someone when they suspect you may be a mystery shopper.  They might become nervous and sometimes make more mistakes than they would, or they may turn on the charm and knowledge spout and provide you with much a much different customer experience than the everyday customer is getting from them.

Be like Bond.

Or a secretive cat…. or your next door neighbor.  Just don’t be revealed as a mystery shopper!