The conspicuous way to mystery shopping

As the newest Client X team-member, I would like to tell you that…

… actually, does it matter at all whether I am the newest, the oldest, the youngest member of the team? It only takes a little bit of time spent with the colleagues and I already feel at home. Everybody is fun, cool, always willing to help you out, and they try to not kick you when you are down. We even like our boss! Honestly, I’m not kissing ass.

In order to explain how I got here, I’ll have to start from the beginning. Ever since I can remember, my father used to tell me to “get away from this country”. One day I decided that it would be easier to go 2000 kilometres away rather than argue with him, so I ended up in the Netherlands. Overall, there are things we can learn from them, but I won’t deny that they also have a lot to learn from us. The most important thing we can learn from the Dutch is how to separate our personal life from our work life. Usually, they enter the office at 9:00 am and begin working straight away, and that doesn’t mean having a coffee and discussing last night’s talk show, it means that they are actually working. So when 17:30 comes along (or whenever their work day is over), they turn off their computers, put on their coats and raincoats (that’s inevitable there), hop on their bikes and forget that they have been working only moments before. You won’t see any of them having a business conversation on the phone at 11 pm or reading an email from a colleague in the US at 3 am. That doesn’t happen. I’ll let you figure out on your own why that’s the better option…

What can they learn from us? The typical day I described above is repeated over and over again. The same thing every day! Can you imagine? Their entertainment is mainly eating in overpriced restaurants, watching TV, or for some of them - going to the coffee shop (you know what I mean). Conversations with new people always begin the same way: "Where do you study? / Where have you studied? "," Who do you know here?", "Oh, really? And where did you meet them?" Etcetera, etcetera. I have considered preparing my answers on small notes and carrying them with me and giving them readily to the new people I meet so they can read them themselves if really interested. So briefly - boring and monotonous and you always know what will happen. There is nothing to surprise you -- unlike for example a homeless man who asks for a nickel and quite sincerely tells you that it’s for alcohol and Kool-Aid, but then when you talk to them, you find out that he used to be a respected physicist and in the fifteen minutes you spend together, you learn more than the teacher in physics in school ever taught you in four years, and other things from the Bulgarian life.

Let’s change the subject to a sunnier one – Spain! That’s where I went after the Netherlands. Well, everything is different there; people are happier, more open and louder. As Bulgarians we can feel in the right place there, although when you say you are from Bulgaria, they often ask “How is that possible – you’re white!” You have to explain not only that, but also that you don’t steal tourists’ wallets, and they look at you with a surprise, but they decide to believe you after all and you become friends instantly, not true friends, mind you, but everyone is friends there, so it’s all good fun. Let’s get back to the work situation, the work day there is lo-o-o-ong. It starts at 9 am and ends at 8 pm. The horror! The reason isn’t that everyone works so hard. On the contrary – they just have a 2-4 hour siesta in the middle of the day, during which the stores are closed, but the restaurants are full of people, who eat, drink 1-2-5 beers and when they get back to work around 5pm, no wonder everything happens 3 times slower. Unless you are armed with lots of patience, you will quickly be irritated by the fact that between 1 and 5 pm you can hardly find a place to buy a pack of smokes and, by the way, you have to wait for at least 7 minutes in line the rest of the time, although there is only 1 customer before you. Overall, there are good and bad sides, but it’s easier to accept something that you are used to.

So, how did I come back to Bulgaria and, more importantly, how did I end up in Client X? Last I was in Barcelona. It’s too nice there! However there is no work at all. At one point I appeared as a beggar visiting the companies I had liked, just to give them my CV and still there was nothing! (By the way, half a year after I came back home and I had stopped looking for a job in Spain, I was still getting interview invitations by email!) And so one day I had a vague idea that I could come back to Bulgaria and within a week this idea became a decision. I packed my bags and came home.

I applied at 8 companies, got invited to 5 interviews and went to 4 of them (I refused the 5th invitation), and out of those, the 4th one was in Client X. Let me clarify that before I applied here at all, I had an interview for the same position (Researcher) in another company, which also conducts “mystery shopping” research and is located only 5 minutes away from where I live. Before I went to that interview, I did my homework, part of which was to investigate the main competitors. That was when I found out about Client X and I told myself: “Hey, I really like this! I’ll apply at this company as well!” Two days later, they published a job offer. Luck? Destiny? Whatever, it doesn’t matter, I sent my CV immediately and they invited me to an interview. I liked everything the moment I walked in – the office is spacious, light and clean, there is even a receptionist. The first interview was with the boss. We talked for quite some time, and he didn’t torture me with those pointless questions that we all know what the expected “perfect” answers are like “What is your greatest weakness?”, “What makes you stand out of the rest of the candidates?” and so on. We talked honestly and freely and after the interview I felt great! I knew I wanted to work here. I got offers from here and from the other company which was 5 minutes walking distance from my place. It turned out that getting to Client X from my place is an adventure – I run down some stairs, then there’s the scooter, the skateboard, the sweaty bus, the sweatier subway, some more running and I am here. But I do like adventures and I had liked it here from the start, so I chose Client X without a second thought, I didn’t even ask about the other company’s salary proposition. I didn’t care!

By the second week I already felt great. The colleagues are truly friendly; everyone acts natural and jokes around. I can be myself. I have the opportunity to communicate with interesting and different people every day. I don’t mean my colleagues only. I mean our Clients and the Mystery shoppers as well. I like it when I get a question from you, our potential Clients, I like talking to you and all the other Clients and I love discussing what we can do to improve our research, what would be the best option for you and for us. It’s also very interesting to talk to you, dear Mystery shoppers, when we try to investigate a situation, when I have to listen to what exactly happened, explain the script to you if something is unclear and so on.

In short, I would never regret having gone down this road to get here, where I am surrounded by cool people, who are always ready to help out, where everyone is always aware of what is going on with each project, even if they are not a part of it. This is why it’s so important that you all know that you can always count on us, the same way we count on each other and you can be sure that every one of us will try his or her best to do their job not just well enough, not just up to the expectations, but in such a way, so that everything is more than perfect.