5 Questions To Ask a Mystery Shopping Provider Before Implementing a Program

Before entering into a partnership with a mystery shopping provider, it is essential that you ask the right questions to determine that it is the right vendor. Just like other industries, there are many different styles and sizes of mystery shopping providers, making it a challenge to find the right organization to fit alongside your brand. When completing the proposal stage, make sure to ask the following five questions to ensure that you are entering into a beneficial partnership:

  1. How many brands in my industry have you worked with before?
    • Understanding an organization’s active and past client roster is an important part of determining whether the vendor has experience working with similar brands to yours. If you are the first organization in your industry that the vendor has a listed client, then it means they are most likely inexperienced or have worked with someone, but are unwilling to advertise that, which probably means the program did not go well. Try to find a vendor that has documented experience and references so you can be confident they know how to properly serve your specific industry needs.
  2. Where do you find mystery shoppers to complete shops?
    • Mystery shopping in general is a program dependent on the quality of the evaluator, so it is important to get a clear understanding of how the vendor is recruiting their shopper base. Ideally, every person who completes an assignment will have been certified as a quality contributor. It is common for smaller vendors to reach out to additional partners if they are unable to fill assignments, which is something to avoid because as more organizations are added into the process, there is less confidence in the integrity of the data collected. Ideally, the vendor will have their own widespread directory of shoppers that can complete your assignments across the country without additional help.
  3. Are there any aspects of the program completed by a third-party?
    • Similar to discovering how the MSP recruits shoppers, there are other aspects of a mystery shopping program that vendors will send off to be completed by third-party organizations. If your organization can afford it, it is much better to find a larger vendor at a higher price point that is able to effectively complete each step of the mystery shopping process in-house. In doing so, you will ensure that all of the data collected is legitimate, and the programs will be completed on-schedule a higher percentage of the time.
  4. What does the reporting stage of the program look like?
    • Reporting is one of the most important aspects of any Customer Experience measurement program because it is what provides brands with actionable information. Many organizations want to be able to view the statistics of an ongoing project to ensure its progress, but not all providers can offer that transparency. Make sure to review how the MSP completes and distributes reports, so you can be confident that the information you receive from the program will be able to actually be used.
  5. How do you ensure data integrity?
    • Without confidence in the data, all of the work put into the program is essentially worthless. Ensure that the MSP has an excellent quality assurance process, as well as secure platforms for the information to be exchanged. Often, the information collected in the program can be highly confidential, so it is vital that the organization you decide to work with can prove to you they are keeping good care of this information throughout the mystery shopping process.


Second To None empowers customer-centric brands to deliver consistent, intentional and authentic consumer experiences.

We adeptly design and manage mystery shopping, compliance, engagement and voice of customer solutions grounded in strategic relevance, program integrity and actionable insights. Our solutions are developed on the basis of solid research and statistical science. We achieve success through a relentless focus on quality and innovation, consultative relationships and a talented team of professional associates.

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