Mystery Shopping is the practice of using trained shoppers to anonymously evaluate customer service, operations, employee integrity, merchandising, and product quality.

Mystery shopping goes by many names:

  • Secret Shopping
  • Mystery Customers
  • Spotters
  • Anonymous Audits
  • Virtual Customers
  • Employee Evaluations
  • Performance Audits
  • Telephone Checks

Why use mystery shopping?

  • When location, pricing, and product assortment are no longer unique, service is often the key to success or failure.
  • It costs 10x more to get a new customer than to keep an existing one.
  • One unhappy customer will tell 5 other people of their bad experience with services

Why customers leave?

  • 69% poor customer service
  • 13% poor product quality
  • 9% competitive reasons
  • 5% other
  • 3% move away
  • 1% die

“What gets measured, gets done”

Mystery Shopping Today

  • Wide-ranging impact – with shoppers, clients, and providers
  • Many shopper-oriented web sites and List Serv’s exist to assist shoppers with education and finding jobs
  • Internet provides more reach and exposure for mystery shopping services
  • Faster and less expensive shopper recruiting
  • Faster and less expensive data collection
  • Faster, automated reporting processes
  • Increased need for validation of data

Who provides mystery shopping services?

  • Mystery Shopping Specialists
  • Marketing Research Firms
  • Private Investigators
  • Merchandising Companies
  • Training Companies
  • Advertising/Promotion Agencies
  • Others

Who uses mystery shopping?

Any business/organization that needs to monitor its operations, facilities, product delivery, and services like:

  • Banks
  • Retailers
  • Manufacturers
  • Call Centres
  • E-Commerce services
  • Government agencies
  • Hospitals
  • Associations
  • Franchise operations
  • Promotions agencies
  • Hotels
  • Restaurants
  • Movie Theatres
  • Recreation parks
  • Transportation systems
  • Fitness/health centres
  • Property management firms
  • Freight/courier services and many more…

What are the benefits of a mystery shopping program?

  • Monitors and measures service performance
  • Improves customer retention
  • Makes employees aware of what is important in serving customers
  • Reinforces positive employee/management actions with incentive-based reward systems
  • Provides feedback from front line operations
  • Monitors facility conditions – asset protection
  • Ensures product/service delivery quality
  • Supports promotional programs
  • Audits pricing & merchandising compliance
  • Allows for competitive analyses
  • Compliments marketing research data
  • Identifies training needs and sales opportunities
  • Educational tool for training & development
  • Ensures positive customer relationships on the front line
  • Enforces employee integrity

The History of Mystery Shopping

  • Initially, mystery shopping was a technique used by private investigators to prevent employee theft – primarily at banks and retail stores
  • In the 1940’s, Wilmark coined the term “mystery shopping” and began using the method for evaluating customer service
  • In the 1970’s and 80’s, Shop ‘n Check popularized mystery shopping by gaining extensive publicity
  • In the 1990’s, fueled by the internet, the mystery shopping industry experienced rapid growth and acceptance.
  • Into the 2000’s, the creation of software packages such as SASSIE and Prophet have revolutionized the industry

Mystery Shopping Methods

  • In person/on-site shops
  • Telephone shops
  • E-Commerce web site shops
  • Hidden video/audio recording
  • Full narrative shops (qualitative)
  • Checklist shops (quantitative)
  • Purchase & return shops
  • Discrimination (matched-pair) testing