Mystery Shopping: Three Ways to Make Your Program Better Today

Mystery Shopping is about more than just performance measurement. It is about getting fast and fresh insights about business to drive customer experience improvement.

In my experience with retailers, banks, telcos, oil companies, auto dealers and restaurants, I have observed that operational consistency is what all brands desire most. Mystery shopping is unquestionably a powerful tool to drive such consistency in widely distributed operations. It is reliable, repeatable and robust – a fact that is backed up by a two billion dollar global mystery shopping industry. Still, mystery shopping can be made better.

Allow me to explain three ways you can make your mystery shopping programs better today…

Better Design:

Programs need to be designed to monitor what is important to the organizations and to the customers. You can do this by mapping out each part of a customer journey – the good and bad – so that businesses can manage the experience and not the numbers.

Companies don’t need to shop every location every week. Instead, you can develop sampling plans with the aim of reducing costs while giving nothing away in terms of reliability or usability of results. Many companies have benefited from this approach.

Better Execution:

To clients I have worked with, the two most important aspects of their Mystery Shop programs are the quality of the operations and the shoppers themselves:

  • Operations: Here technology is key. Companies are able to benefit from richer, quicker, more reliable feedback. Mobile technology – which includes the ability to geo-tag photos, record video and upload instantly – is a key part of this. It is possible to layer this on a foundation of operational excellence to provide companies with unmatchable execution.
  • Shoppers: The best mystery shopping program managers know how to train, manage, compensate and retain the most sought after shoppers in the industry. Mystery Shoppers work for everyone – no-one in the industry has an exclusive panel. However, the best program managers ensure their shoppers are paid generously and quickly, are well-trained and treated with the respect they deserve.

Better Impact:

The nature of reporting is important but it’s not just about the volume of data, it’s about the approach to understanding and taking action on the feedback that comes from the shoppers. Leading companies have invested time, talent and resources to make sure our reporting has an impact wherever and whenever it is seen.

  • Online, real-time results: Top programs provide real-time results, allowing companies to act swiftly and decisively on issues. Results are presented in a sophisticated dashboard environment which allows any level of stakeholder to quickly explore and act on results.
  • Integrated insights: Good business decisions are not made in isolation. This is why leading practitioners integrate Mystery Shop, Customer Satisfaction, Employee Satisfaction and other data streams into a single reporting platform.
  • Built in ownership: Best in class programs ensure that everyone pays attention and is accountable for correcting performance gaps.
  • Fair data: Low (or high) scores may be outside of a manager’s control and it is important to recognize this. Using a best practice approach, a company can ensure that locations are compared and ranked accurately and that staff are rewarded and recognized appropriately.

All of these three factors help dramatically improve the value of Mystery Shopping.

Interested in hearing more? Ipsos Loyalty’s Mystery Shopping service is one of the largest mystery shopping agencies in the world. We complete over a million assignments every year across all industry segments and organization sizes. You may contact us at

Ipsos Loyalty is the global leader in customer experience, satisfaction and loyalty research and consulting with over 1,200 dedicated professionals located in over 80 countries around the world. Our thought leadership and leading edge technologies help our clients build strong customer relationships which lead to better business results. This has made us the trusted advisor to executives across industry sectors in B2C and B2B on all matters relating to measuring, modeling, and managing customer relationships.  For further information contact your local Ipsos office, details at: