Mystery Shopper Frequently Asked Questions FAQ
General Shopper FAQ
- What is a mystery shopper?
- Why is mystery shopping important?
- Who are Confero’s clients?
- Who are Confero’s shoppers?
- Is special expertise required?
- How do I start mystery shopping for Confero?
- Is online sign up required?
- What is a Shopper Profile?
- May I also shop for other companies?
- What are Guidelines?
- What is a Shopper Log?
- What is Validation?
- What is a Survey?
- What is a Shopper Rating?
- What does being an MSPA member mean, and why is it important to me?
- What is Shopper Certification?
- Will the client know who I am?
- Getting Assignments & The Job Board
- How are shopping assignments made?
- I’ve conducted a few shops- how do I get more?
- Will I be required to accept assignments?
- How often are shoppers contacted?
- How are shoppers rated?
- Would you please explain your rating system?
- Why do some shops require an average grade of 7?
- How can I improve my shopper rating?
- I disagree with my rating for a particular shop. What should I do?
- Conducting Assignments
- What is required during assignments?
- What if I cannot complete an assigned shop?
- How do I know what to purchase?
- Where can I find the guidelines for my assigned shop?
- What are Shop Materials?
- Why can’t I apply for a shop in my area that was announced in an email I received?
- Why am I not being awarded any shops I apply for?
- Whom do I call if I have a question about my shop?
- Getting Paid
- How are shoppers compensated?
- How do I get paid for my mystery shops?
- Why is it so important to return unused prizes?
- What about taxes?
- Why does my shopper’s log say PENDING as status?
- Revealed Shops
- Troubleshooting and Help
- What if I change my PayPal address (my address, email address or PayPal address has changed)? Can you change it for me?
General Shoppers FAQ
What is a mystery shopper?
A mystery shopper enters a business as an average customer, evaluates the products and services offered, interacts with employees as a customer normally would, and reports findings to Confero by completing a detailed customer service survey online through Confero’s mystery shopping system, COMPASS. As anonymous customers, mystery shoppers do what managers cannot – they receive unbiased treatment and thus can give accurate, objective feedback on service quality.
Why is mystery shopping important?
Our clients use mystery shopper feedback in gathering data to use in the following fields:
- Employee training effectiveness
- Reward of outstanding employees
- Procedures for improving customer service
- Identification of training needs
- Facility conditions
- Promotional materials, signs or brochures
- Competitor customer service levels
- Selling skills
- Fair treatment of all customers
- Some clients even use mystery shopping services to provide on-the-spot prizes for employees who provide outstanding services.
Who are Confero’s clients?
We serve clients nationwide in a variety of industries:
- Food Service
- Real Estate
- Grocery Stores
- Shopping Centers
- Automotive Services
Who are Confero’s shoppers?
Our shoppers are teachers, doctors, firefighters, homemakers, administrative assistants, salespeople, etc. Most shoppers already work full time elsewhere, but enjoy conducting assignments in their spare time. For Confero, they serve as independent contractors. Mystery shopping is not a full or part-time job, as assignments are occasional, and so should NOT be considered an employment arrangement with Confero.
Is special expertise required?
No. Mystery shoppers are unbiased data gatherers. They observe and listen. Most of the time, we do not need shoppers to be experts in the industries in which we assign them to shop. We seek reliable and dependable people who will take assignments seriously and conduct them according to our guidelines for the shop visit.
How do I start mystery shopping for Confero?
No fee is required. However, to become a successful mystery shopper, Confero requires access to an internet connection, as all Confero mystery shop surveys require online completion. Before we will consider you for shopping assignments, you must complete our Shopper Profile. Then, your name will be in our database of eligible shoppers. When the next available shopping opportunity arises in your area, you will receive an automated email alerting you of such, with a link to the job board where you can view the shop posting and submit a request to perform the available shop. You may also search the job board by location, client, etc., and apply for jobs for which you feel most qualified. Schedulers place assignments with the highest-rated or most qualified shopper for that particular shop.
Is online sign up required?
Yes. Confero does not accept faxed, emailed or mailed profiles.
What is a Shopper Profile?
Each shopper has a data record in our database called a profile, where the shopper enters his/her personal information such as name, address, and email address. This information helps our scheduling team match shoppers with assignments.
May I also shop for other companies?
Of course. As an independent contractor, you may provide your mystery shopping services as you wish. We do caution you, if you do shop multiple companies, pay careful attention to Confero’s specific procedures and requirements. Not every mystery shopping company is the same. If you would like to shop for other companies, we suggest that you make sure you shop for reputable firms. Check to see if the company is a member of the MSPA: Mystery Shopping Providers Association. Please visit http://www.mysteryshop.org.
What are Guidelines?
Guidelines are the written requirements the shopper must follow to complete each shop. Guidelines must be reviewed and understood before conducting any mystery shop assignment. Guidelines indicate the time, date and location of shop, specific details such as what to order, and detailed information to look for. Guidelines change from client to client, and may change from one shop date to another, so shoppers must check their shop guidelines online, on the day of the mystery shop.
What is a Shopper Log?
Within COMPASS, the database tool used by Confero, shoppers will be able to view their upcoming shops, and past shops with payment details when they log in.
What is Validation?
Each shop will have a receipt, or some sort of proof of purchase/visit, like a business card to accompany their shop report. Your shop guidelines will outline the validation that each assignment requires, as well as the time frame in which you must submit them.
What is a Survey?
Each shop has a set of specific questions pertaining to the shop, also known as a survey. It is imperative to review the online survey in conjunction with the shop guidelines. Each survey is different so be sure to review the survey before EVERY shop.
What is a Shopper Rating?
Each time you complete a shop, you receive a shopper rating, also referred to as a “grade.” Ratings are between 1 and 10, 10 being the highest. New Confero shoppers begin with a rating of 5. With each shop performed according to the satisfaction of all guidelines, your chance to improve your overall rating increases. Your shopper rating depends completely on you and how well you conduct your shop according to the guidelines.
What does being an MSPA member mean, and why is it important to me?
Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) is the largest professional trade organization dedicated to improving service quality by using anonymous resources. MSPA ensures that its members, Confero among them, are reputable mystery shopping companies.
What is Shopper Certification?
The Mystery Shopping Providers Association provides education to their shoppers and offers Gold and Silver certifications to shoppers who successfully complete certain required education. The Gold Certification demonstrates our level of commitment and can aid in increasing desirability as a shopper for scheduling considerations. If you are interested in becoming a certified shopper from the MSPA, please visit their website, http://www.mysteryshop.org.
Will the client know who I am?
As the Independent Shopper Agreement states, we will hold your name in confidence and never disclose it to our client(s). Likewise, as per that Agreement, you agree not to mention to anyone the name(s) of the businesses you visit on assignment for Confero, any specifics regarding your guidelines for the shop visit, or any information about the shopper survey format or questions.
I was promised to be able to shop for your company. I bought a directory listing many shopping companies, and yet you have no shops for me. Why is that?
Confero does not participate or advertise in any mystery shopping directories. If you purchased a book with a listing of mystery shopping companies, please contact the company from whom you purchased the directory and ask for a refund. Confero has no agreements with any companies that sell these directories, and Confero has never authorized the use of its company information in a directory.
Getting Assignments and The Job Board
How are shopping assignments made?
Schedulers use a sophisticated information system and mapping software to identify Confero shoppers who live or work near an available assignment location. If your name is identified by this search, we will contact you via email to determine whether an assignment at a specific business location interests you. We will tell you about how long the assignment will take to complete, when we need you to visit the specific location, and the compensation we offer for the assignment. You may access the job board and apply for shops after logging in.
I’ve conducted a few shops- how do I get more?
- The best way to get additional shops is to complete your initial shop in the best way possible. This means fully reading and understanding your guidelines, conducting the shop without errors, turning in your validation on time, and if applicable, returning or disbursing any prizes you may have in your possession.
- Meet our expectations by submitting clean, informative reports free of grammatical errors.
- If a Confero scheduling representative calls or emails you, please reply quickly. Confero operates 7 days a week. If you receive an email on a Saturday night, please do not assume we will not read your response until the next business day.
- Become someone we can depend on- conduct your shops on time, and if you’re asked to do a shop at the last minute, consider doing so. Schedulers appreciate shoppers who go the extra mile!
Will I be required to accept assignments?
No. You are not required to accept any assignment. However, if you do accept an assignment, we expect you to complete it, as promised. Please know that if you accept a shop and then do not perform your assignment, this will greatly affect your rating and ability to receive further Confero mystery shops.
How often are shoppers contacted?
Availability of assignments depends solely upon our clients’ locations. Some clients ask for regular shops, while others request shops only at certain times of the year. Confero shops for national companies, resulting in thousands of shops spread out all over the country. Assignments may be more frequent in some areas of the country than in others. Also, we rotate shoppers so that the same person does not visit a location repeatedly. Do not be concerned if you are not contacted for a while.
How are shoppers rated?
At Confero, we focus on the quality of the mystery shop reports that we provide to our clients. As such, a member of our Quality Review team reviews each and every one of the mystery shopping reports submitted to Confero. We determine whether the correct location was mystery shopped, if the assignment was conducted within any applicable time frames, if the guidelines were followed and if the assignment and supporting documentation were submitted within the required time frame. The report then receives a rating based upon how well the report adheres to these factors. Ratings allow us to give priority to those shoppers who consistently demonstrate quality work and to eliminate those shoppers who do not adhere to the guidelines.
Would you please explain your rating system?
Our rating system is based upon a scale of 1-10. Our expectation is that shoppers will adhere to all guidelines, and surveys will be submitted in a complete and accurate manner. Reports that meet such expectations will receive an “8” rating. For shoppers who exceed expectations or far exceed expectations, there is an opportunity to earn a rating of a 9 or 10. For those reports which are not submitted according to our guidelines, Confero will give ratings of 1-7. Any assignment receiving a rating of 7 or lower will also receive comments (Performance Notes) to indicate what was not done correctly. These comments will appear in an email you receive once your report has been reviewed, and will also show in your Shop Log. Please consider these comments when conducting future assignments.
Please note: we cannot accept reports that are not submitted according to the guidelines. Remember that Mystery Shopping is a form of market research. It is important that each visit be conducted using the same guidelines, no matter in which city the shop takes place. Assignments conducted out of accordance with shop guidelines will not be paid. Examples of assignments which we do not pay for include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Assignments conducted at the wrong location
- Assignments conducted during the wrong time frame
- Assignments conducted on the wrong date
- Assignments for which supporting validation documentation (receipt, business card, etc.) was not received or was not received within the required time frame
- Assignments which include contradictions that cannot be clarified
- Assignments where a key element of the shop was not performed
- Wrong item(s) ordered
Why do some shops require an average grade of 7?
The shop you are applying for may require a higher rating due to the complexity of the shop. There may be prizes involved and varying forms to be signed and submitted. After performing various shops and becoming accustomed to our system, your rating will probably improve making you eligible for these shops.
How can I improve my shopper rating?
- By earning MSPA certification, reading guidelines in great detail, and going above and beyond what is required.
- A good narrative that provides valuable information to the client is always appreciated.
- A well done report that requires little or no editing shows us that you took the time to check over your work before submitting it.
- If you have a flexible schedule that allows you to take last minute assignments, schedulers will seek you out many times.
- Try to build up a good history with Confero by completing as many assignments as possible for which you are eligible. This in turn will increase your rating and eligibility.
- Last but not least – DEPENDABILITY – shops done well with the survey and validation submitted on time.
I disagree with my rating for a particular shop. What should I do?
What is required during assignments?
- If you accept an assignment, you must thoroughly read the guidelines and survey to ensure you understand what to do and how to answer the questions.
- You must enter the business with an open mind, as an “average customer.”
- You must listen for and look for the answers to our survey questions.
- Immediately after the visit, you must complete the survey online, while details are fresh in your memory.
- You must also upload or fax the required validation documents as proof of your visit (receipt, business card, flyer, etc.) within 24 hours of your shop. If you choose to fax in these documents, please also include your corresponding fax coversheet.
- When we receive your survey, a Quality Review team verifies that you have answered all questions correctly, that these answers correspond to the shop validation documents, and that the survey offers detailed constructive comments about the visit. Shoppers must conduct their visit by the deadline, at the correct assigned location, send all validation to us, and complete the online survey within 24 hours of the visit.
- After reviewing your first assignment and how well you followed our instructions, the Quality Review team will decide whether you are eligible to be contacted for future assignments. We expect you to complete an assignment if you accept it. If you do not complete an accepted assignment, complete it late, or do not follow the guidelines, you will not be contacted about future assignments.
What if I cannot complete an assigned shop?
As soon as you realize that you cannot complete your assignment you should contact your scheduler by email through the link on the right side of your shop log. Whether you try to contact your scheduler via email or by phone, please remember that only your scheduler can change the due dates or cancel a shop. Please do not request shops if you are not available during the posted timeframe.
How do I know what to purchase?
This is always outlined in the Guidelines. If you have other questions please contact your scheduler via e-mail.
Where can I find the guidelines for my assigned shop?
Guidelines are highlights and detailed instructions for your assigned shop. These are meant to be used alongside the on-line survey and help you answer every survey question to client specification. You can access your guidelines from your shop log when you log in through COMPASS.
To access guidelines for your shop, Log into COMPASS, Choose Shopper Log.
What are Shop Materials?
Non-Prize Shops: For shops that do not involve prizes, you will receive an e-mail from your scheduler confirming the shop. At this point, it is your responsibility to login to your Shopper Log and read the guidelines for that particular shop. You will not receive anything in the mail to complete these shops, unless otherwise advised by your scheduler that a package will arrive. If you conduct multiple shops for our clients, please remember to check the guidelines before EACH shop. Guidelines change constantly, and it is imperative that you conduct the shop according to the most recent version.
Prize Shops (typically advanced shopper assignments): If you have been selected for a shop that does involve prizes, you will receive a package from Confero containing materials you will need to complete the shop. This may include gift cards, certificates of merit for the client’s staff, or other various tools you will need to conduct your shop. They will arrive via courier, typically FedEx. We ship out hundreds of packages daily and our couriers cannot deliver to PO Boxes. As a result, if you accept a shop that uses prizes, you MUST have a permanent address listed in your shopper profile. Confero routinely deletes shops where shoppers have only a PO Box listed in their profile, meaning that if you have been assigned a shop and a PO box delivery is noted, the shop will be reassigned. Keep in mind that Confero REQUIRES that someone sign for the package (it will not be left at your door.) When you accept a shop, please be sure that there will be someone available to sign for the package when it arrives or contact your scheduler to arrange an alternate location, such as where you work.
When you receive the package, please review and familiarize yourself with its contents. The contents will be clearly labeled. Be sure not to open something you should not, and to keep incentives in a location where they will not be handled until awarded to store management or returned to Confero. The guidelines in your shopper profile will provide detailed instructions.
If your shop is “Unsuccessful,” and you do not award the prizes to the location, you must promptly return the prizes to Confero. We will provide you with a postage-paid envelope and a FedEx airbill for return shipping. It is imperative that you return them as soon as possible! If we do not receive the prizes, you will not receive payment for ANY of your shops until all missing prizes are returned. Failure to return incentives within the specified time frame will prevent you from obtaining future assignments with Confero and will affect your shopper rating.
Why can’t I apply for a shop in my area that was announced in an email I received?
More than likely, the shop has been filled by another shopper who happened to apply for the shop before you got an opportunity to do so.
Why am I not being awarded any shops I apply for?
There are a number of reasons why this may occur:
- You may be in an area where there are many shoppers; however, it is important to note that schedulers do try hard to get new shoppers started.
- Some higher-difficulty assignments require a rating of an 8 or higher.
- Brand new shoppers do not typically receive assignments that involve distributing prizes.
- If you have a history of not completing assignments on time or of continually requesting extensions, you will typically not receive assignments.
Whom do I call if I have a question about my shop?
You should contact your scheduler if you have questions about your shop. Unless urgent, please email from your shopper log. We have teams of schedulers to make sure your question goes to the right scheduler.
How are shoppers compensated?
Compensation varies depending upon the complexity of the assignment. Compensation depends upon the nature of the assignment and client requirements. We will tell you the compensation when we contact you about an assignment—before we ask if you would like to accept the assignment.
How do I get paid for my mystery shops?
Payment policies, timing and methods are outlined fully on this Payment Policies page.
Why is it so important to return unused prizes?
Failure to return unused prizes is considered Internet fraud which is a felony with the FBI. If unused prizes are not returned Confero will report incident to the MSPA, and turn the account over to a collection agency, and you will not be paid for that shop, or for any pending shop payments.
What about taxes?
As an independent contractor, you are responsible for reporting your own earnings. Confero will provide a 1099 Miscellaneous Income form, as required by law, if you earn more than $600 from us during a calendar year. If you have questions regarding tax liability, contact your tax advisor. We cannot provide tax advice. We do not provide a statement or listing of your earnings unless the $600 amount is exceeded. However, you may access your shop logs in your shopper profile at any time to obtain this information.
Why does my shopper’s log say PENDING as status?
When a shop is in pending status, it means that your shop is in queue for payment. After it is reviewed and ready for payment, the status will change to PAID.
Will I be notified when payment is made?
Yes. You will get an email message that looks similar to this from PayPal:
What are the Shopper Job Board and Message Notifications?
The Shopper Job Board can be found at the top of the login page after you sign in with your login and password.
If you have requested an assignment you will always receive either a confirmation or a denial email. If you receive neither of these, it is your responsibility to check your shop log to see if you have the shop. Occasionally our emails get lost in cyberspace or get stopped by spam blockers—unfortunately we have no control over this. Please make sure your controls allow Confero emails. (domain:conferoinc.com)
As shown in the pictures below, the Shopper Job Board also allows you to search for available mystery shops in the system. You can search by country, state, or zip code.
This page displays your active shop applications in the last month
(Shops assigned to other shoppers are removed from this page)
How Do I Submit Reports and Validation?
What are the steps to submitting reports and validation?
Step One, The Report:
- Once your shop is complete, your survey should be submitted online the same day as your shop, and ALWAYS within 24 hours of the shop.
- Use complete sentences with varied sentence structure.
- Do not write your report in ALL-CAPS.
- Be sure to be consistent in your spelling of employee names.
- Be sure to complete all the questions on the survey that best depicts your shop. Be accurate with the details of the shop- make sure you’re answering exactly the way that it happened.
- Avoid grammatical errors, spelling errors and typos. Our system has spell check for your convenience. Proofread your report! Capitalize proper nouns, the pronoun “I,” and trademarked items such as “Whopper,” “Coca-Cola,” etc.
- Refrain from using slang, abbreviations, smiley faces or exclamation points.
- When answering open-ended “comments” questions, many clients wish you to report on your overall experience during a shop, and to comment upon your interaction with certain employees. Many times these brief narratives are more valuable to the client than your “yes/no” responses. As a result, it is imperative that you pay particular attention to these responses. Some reports require that you use a certain number of characters or sentences to detail your narrative: these values are not arbitrary, but serve rather as a minimum guideline for how much Confero expects you to write in a comprehensive account. Spend time creating your responses and think about what is important for you to convey to the client. Your comments should reflect upon (and not contradict) the questions that were asked in the report, without being a simple restatement of what you have already answered. Do not disclose any personal information about yourself in these narratives, or refer to anyone else who accompanied you during the shop.
- Check your entire report before you submit it for review; correct inconsistencies and make sure that you answered all questions fully.
- After you’ve sent your documents, our validation department will send you a message to let you know if your documents have been received. If there is a problem receiving your documents, you’ll receive that notice as well.
- If you notice something unusual, be sure to make a note in your report. For example, if you shopped at 7:15 p.m. and the receipt time says 10:15 a.m., make a note of it in the “Confero Comments” box.
Step Two, Uploading or Faxing Validation Documents:
We prefer that you upload your validation directly to your online survey. Uploading images takes away your worry of whether we received your fax. However, if you must fax, please be sure to use the fax number specific to your guidelines.
As you fill out your report, you should see a link that says “UPLOAD”. You can attach your validation documents here. For example, if you have a receipt, or business card that is your validation, you can scan the document and upload. You could also take a picture of it with your digital camera and attach it. The process is similar to when you send an attachment in an email. You simply find the document in your files, click the upload button that will attach it to your survey, and then click send when your report is complete. If uploading, you do not have to fax your documents. Please be sure to wait while your document uploads. This can take a few minutes. If you don’t wait long enough, your upload will not be complete. The upload procedure only accepts certain file types (.jpg, .tif, .gif, .bmp, .pdf). Be sure to upload only the image file – do not paste the image into a MS Word document, as our program does not accept .doc files. Once the file has uploaded, check to make sure that the ink is legible, i.e. not too light or blurred. If you cannot read it, neither can we. Please make sure to only send clear, legible images, and if necessary, trace over the information carefully with a pencil.
Please be sure to use the correct fax number. Each client has its own designated fax line. If you are doing a grocery store shop and an automotive shop, you cannot send both to the same fax number. Send each separately, to the fax numbers given in each guideline specification. Fax cover sheets will only appear if the shop is Incomplete.
Many times we get fax messages that are blank pieces of paper. Be sure you know which way your documents go into the machine prior to sending.
Your shop details are due by noon the day after your shop. Because many shoppers submit documentation on a daily basis, the traffic for the fax lines may be congested. Please keep trying the number until you can submit the documents.
After you have submitted your documents, our validation department will send you an email notifying you of receipt. You will also receive an email if your validation has not been received, which puts you at risk for lowered grades and therefore a loss of future assignments.
**When sending these documents, please choose one method or the other. Please do not send both a fax and an attachment.
Here are some common types of messages concerning validation of your work:
- Validation documents have been received and verified.
- We have not received your validation documents for this assignment. Please fax ASAP so your report and payment can be processed.
- Validation documents have been received; however, your survey questions have been answered in all capital letters and are unacceptable. Your report cannot be sent to the client that way. Please go back to your report and correct with proper grammar and punctuation. Please email me when this has been completed.
- I have just received a completely blank fax from you and am assuming it was supposed to be the validation documents for this assignment. Please try again.
- I have received your coversheet; however, for this assignment a receipt is also required. Please fax ASAP so we can process your payment.
- I have received your faxed verification documents; however, the survey is not completed online as of yet. Please go back into the survey and answer all questions with the “Oops” next to them by clicking on “edit/view” in your shopper log to the left of the screen ASAP.
- We have not received your validation documents for this assignment. Please fax ASAP. This is just a reminder.
- I have received your faxed validation documents; however, the receipt is too light to read. Please darken by making a copy or trace over with a pencil or pen and refax ASAP so your payment may be processed.
Step 3, Returning Prizes:
If you have prizes to return to Confero, please return them in the prepaid envelope that Confero provided you. It is mandatory that you return the prizes, or Confero will hold your payment for ALL shops until the prizes are received. Please be sure to FILL OUT your return address on the return airbill. If Confero cannot determine who the prizes are from, we cannot pay you for the shop.
What are “Revealed Shops”?
Sometimes you may see shop offers that call for the shopper to “reveal” him or herself to the manager at our client’s site. This means that after completing your shop, you may need to ask to speak with the manager. You will identify yourself as a mystery shopper representing a specific client (such as Coca-Cola), and then disclose whether the shop was successful or unsuccessful. You may be asked to give out prizes for a job well done, or to leave a card and correspondence, outlining the details that need to be strengthened.
As a shopper, Confero will advise you on these particular shops. Your guidelines will include instructions on how to conduct the revealed shop. Each client requires different protocol for revealed shops, and sometimes guideline requirements change mid-project, so it is absolutely necessary to read shop guidelines on the day of the assignment. *Not all shops are revealed shops—only speak to the manager about a shop if it is stated in the guidelines to do so.
Need Troubleshooting Help?
I am a mystery shopper and have used COMPASS before, so why can’t I log in?
Many mystery shopping companies prefer to use COMPASS as their database tool, but your password for another firm will not work when you try to log into Confero’s site. You must have a profile and password for Confero’s COMPASS site to log in, view and select shops.
What if I have forgotten my password?
On the login page from our website, please click on UPDATE PROFILE and then choose the “Email my password” button. Your password will be sent to the address you used in your shopper profile.
What if I have a change of address?
Shoppers are responsible for the data that is in their profile. To change your profile, log in to your COMPASS profile and change any personal information you need there.
What if I change my PayPal address (my address, email address or PayPal address has changed)? Can you change it for me?
While we’re always happy to help our shoppers, it’s truly your responsibility as a shopper to keep your profile up to date with current information. This also reduces the risk of entering data incorrectly. Log in to your COMPASS profile to update your personal information. There is no direct link between your PayPal account and Confero’s COMPASS system. You will need to visit your PayPal account at http://www.paypal.com to make any changes.