How To Be a Successful Mystery Shopper

While getting paid to shop sounds like a fun (and easy) job, being a mystery shopper requires multiple skill sets in order to be successful. Our robust, in-house team of Field Staff Coordinators got together to brainstorm what skill sets they feel define a successful mystery shopper. Take a look at what they came up with and how you can improve your mystery shopping skills in the future.


Staying organized is key to becoming a successful mystery shopper. To accomplish this, it’s essential to keep a mystery shopping folder either on paper or online. Doing this will easily allow you to keep track of all the companies you are registered with, as well as your login information. You will want to keep all of your receipts, proof of visits, GPS Verified codes, along with anything else pertaining to your mystery shop assignments in a safe place for up to three months. In addition, the most successful mystery shoppers write down the company and job number on the back of each proof.

Also, it’s recommended to create an excel file to keep track of all of your mystery shop earnings, including reimbursements. Don’t forget to mark them off once they are paid back to you. Also remember, that a successful mystery shopper always keeps money aside from their shops for yearly taxes. If you plan on making over $599 with each company you shop for, you will receive a 1099 form.


To be a successful mystery shopper, you must read your shop guidelines multiple times before conducting the shop. On top of that, you should proofread your completed report several times before submitting it to the company’s Quality Assurance team.

In your mystery shop preparation phase, don’t be afraid to ask your scheduler any questions if you are unclear of what to do. Always being on the same page as your scheduler can greatly increase the likelihood of improving your shopper rating—making you a more successful mystery shopper.


Having a high-level of integrity can mean a lot of things. When we at IntelliShop discuss the integrity of a mystery shop, we are talking about accuracy and completeness. Mystery shoppers with integrity always strive to provide the most accurate, thorough and complete information to better serve the client.

Detail-oriented, yet objective

A successful mystery shopper should always set aside a few minutes right after each shop to jot down notes about their experience. Clients love a lot of details as to what occurred during the mystery shopping visit. These detailed insights should include objective information from the moment you step out of your car to enter the shop to when you leave the location.

The details a successful mystery shopper provides must be entirely objective. Never give any personal feelings you have about your experience with the associates/managers, rather just report on the facts that occurred. On top of being objective in your reports, you must also use correct spelling and grammar through the report when narrating your “story”. Let the client see your visit through its customer’s eyes.

Watch for scams

Before applying to be a mystery shopper, it is crucial that you do your do-diligence and research the company. Check out their mystery shopper FAQs, their rating on the Better Business Bureau, and if they are an MSPA certified mystery shopping company. The BBB and MSPA can provide excellent insight into the way a mystery shopping company handles relationships with their stakeholders. Additionally, not being an MSPA member could be a red flag.

It’s important to note that as a registered mystery shopper, there is a chance you could come in contact with a mystery shopping scam. A successful mystery shopper is aware of these scams and never pays a company to receive mystery shops. They also never cash a check from a company that wants them to complete a shop.

Don’t over-schedule yourself

When looking for shops you want to do, go to each company’s job board and carefully read over the shop comments for each shop. A successful mystery shopper never self-assigns a shop unless they are 100 percent confident they can complete it. When self-assigning a shop and then canceling, you take away the opportunity of other shoppers receiving the shop. Client completion is the number one goal, so it is important to be considerate to your deadlines and requirements of each shop you do take on.

Additionally, a successful mystery shopper never takes on too many shops at once as that can be overwhelming and can decrease the effort they put into each report. While it’s smart to bundle your shops to those within the same area to make it more worth your time and drive, a mystery shopper should always be cautious of their workload and ability to complete each report with thorough detailing and integrity. A successful mystery shopper will always weigh the costs of doing a shop before accepting it. This can include the gas needed to get them from mystery shop to mystery shop and if they are being reimbursed accordingly, as well as the time ratio we already discussed.


A successful mystery shopper knows that once they are assigned to a shop it is their responsibility to complete the shop. If any issues with completion do come up, the shopper will immediately contact their scheduler. Simply not completing the shop will result in a lower shopper rating marked with a flake or cancel citation. This can then result in getting assigned fewer shops along with a negative impression to that company. Every scheduler understands that things happen, but it’s key to stay in frequent communication with them when issues do arise. The most successful mystery shoppers always remember that the more reliable they are the more successful they are as a mystery shopper.

Become A Successful Mystery Shopper with IntelliShop

IntelliShop helps clients measure and improve all aspects of the customer experience, including onsite, online and on the phone. As the leader in the ever-emerging field of customer experience improvement, we have worked hands-on with over one million mystery shoppers since our founding in 1999. Our robust team of Field Staff Coordinators know what works, best practices, and have countless tips to help you become successful in your mystery shopping endeavors.

In order for us to successfully guarantee to improve our clients’ customer experience, we need a strong base of successful mystery shoppers to provide us the story-like details. Apply now to become an IntelliShop mystery shopper today.


More Articles:

Beware Of Excellent Reviews

About a year ago, I went through the process of purchasing a new car. My salesman was personable, and overall the experience was pleasant. When

The Mighty Oak Pathway

Click a program below to learn more.

Request A Quote

Request A Quote