Mystery Shopping FAQ

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What is Mystery Shopping?

Mystery Shopping is a specialized research methodology used for measuring, monitoring, and maintaining operational standards and compliance of customer service and operations within a company. For companies that operate numerous locations, Mystery Shopping quantifies how each unit operates comparatively to predefined standards of expectation. This insight is achieved without the bias that can accompany self-assessment and provides a clearer, more accurate picture of the customers’ experiences and the Associate/team’s strengths and areas of development.

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Should I become an Independent Contractor Mystery Shopper?

Mystery Shopping offers insight to impact change for all types of selling environments, including retail stores, restaurants, financial institutions, hotels, etc. It is both enjoyable and rewarding. Work as an Independent Contractor Mystery Shopper is well suited to anyone who would benefit from working highly flexible hours and earning a reasonable wage, contracting for a number of diverse engagements, and in some cases receiving free products and services.

Mystery Shopping is not just about fun, as it is also a very serious business. Many companies use Mystery Shopping results as a vital component in reviewing and assessing employees and management. Important organizational decisions are based on the information gathered from Mystery Shoppers. All the detailed reporting that we provide to the Client is only as good as the information that you supply, so you must provide accurate and detailed facts. Mystery shoppers should prepare themselves thoroughly before conducting each and every assignment. Since every project is unique to a specific Client, it is important that the shopper read the evaluation criteria carefully for each new assignment they complete. The identical question on two separate client questionnaires could be evaluated in two entirely different ways, depending upon the Client’s evaluation criteria. The more precise your feedback, the more valuable the information is to our Client.

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How do I register as an Independent Contractor Mystery Shopper for Service Excellence Group, Inc.?

To become an Independent Contractor Mystery Shopper with Service Excellence Group, Inc. you must complete a registration form and an Independent Contractor Agreement. Both of these documents can be found on the New Shopper Application page of this web site. Once you have properly completed and submitted both documents, you will automatically be added to the electronic database of other Independent Contractor Mystery Shoppers.

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Where can I receive more information about the Mystery Shopping industry?

If you would like more information pertaining to the Mystery Shopping Industry, you can access the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA) web site at: http://www.mysteryshop.org The MSPA was formed for the purpose of strengthening the Mystery Shopping industry throughout the world. It is the goal of the organization to improve and stimulate the acceptance, performance, reputation and use of mystery shopping services internationally. Their web site is a comprehensive site with information about the Mystery Shopping Industry, the companies within it, and the many advantages of Mystery Shopping. You can also visit any search engine (i.e.; Yahoo, Google, Lycos) to find out information about Mystery Shopping as an Industry. While on any of these search engines, type in a key term, such as “Mystery Shopping”, in the blank field provided.

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Will my personal information remain confidential?

Your personal information is very secure. Service Excellence Group, Inc. never discloses an Independent Contractor Mystery Shopper’s personal identifiable information to clients or to any other interested parties unless you are notified up front. Clients do not have the ability to contact you without first going through us. Your Login and Password prevent other people from accessing your personal information. It is important and your responsibility to protect yourself by not sharing your Login or Password with anyone. You can change your password as often as you choose to, but remember it is recommended that you keep it private.

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Is it necessary to disclose my Social Security Number?

In order to pay you as an Independent Contractor, we must have your Social Security Number on file. In the event that you invoice SEG for over $600 during the course of a fiscal year, we will send you and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) a 1099 statement of your earnings for income tax purposes. Further information can be found in the Independent Contractor Agreement, which must be agreed to in order to register with us. Your Social Security Number is used for no other purpose than the aforementioned.

Please note: You are not required to enter your Social Security Number until you reach $600 in earnings. If you invoice SEG for $600 and have not submitted your SSN into your profile, which can be done through the edit profile link on your Profile page, you will not be paid until the SSN is entered. You also have the option of calling SEG to give a Project Manager your SSN, if you do not want to enter it over the Internet.

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How much will I be paid for each client engagement?

Shoppers are paid as independent contractors. Every shopping engagement has different factors, but most payments fall between $8 and $25. The personal extras like free products and services that are available on many assignments certainly raise this rate of pay. Examples of free products and services include reimbursements for movie tickets, automobile repairs, meals, overnight hotel stays, etc. Each engagement varies and may be subject to change.

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When does Service Excellence Group, Inc. issue payment for services rendered to Independent Contractor Mystery Shoppers?

You must have a PayPal account in order to conduct an engagement for SEG. To open an account, go to www.paypal.com and follow the simple steps for establishing your account. The email address that you register in the SEG database and on the IC PRO profile must be the email address associated with your PayPal account. If you list a different email, payment will be late. We are now processing Independent Contractor invoices on the 20th of each month, after your services(s) have been rendered and your engagement has been finalized and accepted by the client. PayPal/SEG will notify you by email that the agreed upon fee(s) and applicable reimbursements have been placed in your account. Please do not email us regarding payments that are not yet due, as those inquiries will not be answered.

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Do you reimburse for mileage, tolls, or parking?

Our clients may or may not include reimbursement for mileage, tolls or parking. This is determined, on a project-by-project basis, depending on the client requisites. If you decide to work outside of your immediate area, you are responsible for any associated costs.

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How much time does it take to complete each contracted engagement?

Completion time depends largely on the scope of the engagement and the client criteria. An evaluation can take anywhere between 10 minutes and 2 hours (some projects may require an overnight stay).

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Can I conduct Mystery Shopping engagements for multiple companies?

You may accept contracted engagements with as many companies as you wish. Mystery shopping should be considered part-time or intermittent work. The volume of work available for you is based upon the amount of work open in your area, the number of Independent Contractor Mystery Shoppers conducting business in your area, your level of experience, your business reputation, your professionalism on past engagements, client specifications, and demographic restrictions.

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Can you explain my Shopper Rating?

Your Shopper Rating is a summary of your implementation skills in completing the contracted engagements. It is determined by a number of factors that include reliability, ability to follow instructions, ability to put concise thought to paper, attention to detail, and most importantly dependability. All these aspects are considered when determining your Independent Contractor Mystery Shopper rating.

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How do I access my Shopper Log?

You can find your contracted engagement sheet/ portfolio on your Service Excellence Group, Inc. home page, by clicking on the “Log in” link. After you click on this link, your portfolio of engagements will appear. You have the option to print the portfolio at this time. The portfolio has all relevant information pertaining to your engagement (i.e., store name, address, assignment dates, invoice, etc.). You must review the complete engagement sheet, as it includes all of the requirements of your shop.

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How do I print the information for a contracted engagement?

Under the Shop Log, which is located on the Service Excellence Group, Inc. SASSIE/reporting platform home page, you can print all documentation needed to complete your engagements. Simply select the engagement in which you want to receive information (i.e.; client parameters, questionnaire, etc) and then click on “print.” At this time the shop form will appear on your screen and you can print it from this view. In addition, click on the area that is written in blue that says “Click Here to Download Instructions before Performing This Shop.” You will now be able to print the guidelines for this engagement.

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Will I be required to make a purchase when I complete the contracted engagement?

Most engagements do not require you to make a purchase. Depending upon the specific engagement, its parameters, and the client specifications, a purchase may be required. When an engagement requires a purchase you must retain a receipt of the transaction for validation. If a purchase is necessary the engagement parameters will highlight how much you will be reimbursed. You must always fax, scan, email and/or mail your receipt of purchase(s) to Service Excellence Group, Inc. in order to be reimbursed for any purchase/assignment. Our fax number is 1-314-878-1818 and our address is 13523 Ladue Farm Road, St. Louis, MO 63141

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Does the contracted engagement have to be completed at a specific time?

Assignments are to be completed within the times and/or dates requested by the client in the engagement parameters. Should there be specific client parameters for completing an engagement this information will be provided prior to accepting the engagement.

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What should I do if I cannot complete the engagement after accepting it?

If a problem arises that prevents you from completing the engagement you have in progress, you are expected to immediately email a Scheduler and/or call the Service Excellence Group office at 1-800-888-9189. If you accept an engagement and refuse/reject it, your rating may be negatively impacted. You should not take on any engagement(s) if you are not positive that you will be able to successfully complete them during the specified dates and/or times and according to the Client’s specifications.

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Who will see my completed mystery shop forms?

Reports are processed and reviewed by Service Excellence Group, Inc. Project Managers and Validators. These individuals ensure that all information is entered correctly and according to the client requested parameters and that all statements are factual. Once scores are tabulated, individual store reports and detailed summary reports are forwarded to Store Managers, District Managers, Regional Managers, and our client’s corporate headquarters. Store Associates that have been evaluated may see your reports, so it is very important to be fair, honest, and objective when completing the engagement.

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How do Clients use the reports/forms that I complete?

Clients use the reports to measure, monitor and maintain operational standards for customer service delivery, compliance of policies and procedures, competitor analysis, and to monitor a training initiative or to create a new training practice. This research is used to understand the face-to-face customers’ interaction or “moments of truth” for all points of contact.

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How familiar do I need to be when working on the Internet?

You should be familiar with all of the basic functions of your Internet browser. Service Excellence Group, Inc. does not provide Internet training or technical support, however, we will assist you in using our web application.

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Should I have to pay to become a mystery shopper?

Never pay anyone to become a mystery shopper. Reputable companies do not charge a fee!

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