What Exactly Does a Mystery Shopping Vendor Do?

A high-performing organization should have an existing Customer Experience program with the ability to uncover customer preferences and convert this data into actionable reports. Brands that are able to accomplish this tend to be leaders within their industries, but there is still a lot of misinformation revolving around the value of investing in Customer Experience. Thus, it is hard to truly know if your organization is providing the kind of value your customers desire. Measurement is a vital step of any Customer Experience program, and mystery shopping is one of the most effective way of collecting this valuable data. Usually, brands will hire a mystery shopping vendor to help design, implement and analyze their existing experience. As a result, there can often be a lack of transparency between vendor and brand about how the mystery shopping process was completed, and the resulting information. Understanding the process of the average mystery shopping program is key to figuring out the best way to implement the information they provide.

The most obvious aspects of a mystery shopping program are completed by independent contractors, collected, scheduled and managed by the vendor. This is an important distinction because it is imperative that the shoppers scheduled to complete assignments are completely disconnected from your brand. A lot of vendors will not have the ability to reach a certain demographic or geographic location, and will be forced to pay a separate company to help them gather the information. You should strive to find a vendor that has the capability to assign, schedule, and complete your program without having to get external help themselves to ensure data integrity and transparency. Ideally, the program is a collaboration between both your team and the vendor’s, and there should be an established goal from the beginning of the program to ensure clarity and efficiency in the evaluation process.

Customer Experience

Beyond the scheduling and completing of assignments, any reputable mystery shopping vendor will have a quality assurance team ready to go through each individual submission to ensure the quality of the data. Again, finding a vendor that has the capability to complete the quality assurance phase without reaching out to another company will cut down costs, reduce the amount of time it takes to receive a report, and most importantly ensure the integrity of the data. The entirety of these programs would be meaningless without high-quality and actionable data, making the quality assurance phase one of the most important aspects of any mystery shopping program.

Once the QA team has confirmed that the data is useable, the next typical phase of a mystery shopping program is for the analytics and client services team to create and send a simple and actionable report. You should already be familiar with the client services team, as they are typically the point of contact between vendor and brand. In the final phases, the client services will work with the analytics department to create a report that touches on issues they have already discussed with your organization’s team, ensuring that any specific questions or concerns are addressed. The ideal report will have clear information about the existing customer experience they measured, as well as insights about next steps your brand can take to improve.

The typical mystery shopping program can provide extremely valuable information to your Customer Experience team, but it is important that you choose a vendor that is transparent about the process outlined above. Additionally, you should strive to find a vendor that has the employees and resources to complete these steps without having to hire third-party help. In doing so, you are creating a relationship built on accountability, transparency and quality. Mystery shopping programs can be a complex ordeal, so it is often helpful for brands to reach out and hire a vendor to figure out the process. Understanding the information described above will make choosing the right mystery shopping vendor much simpler, and allow your team to further understand the process that results in a valuable and actionable report.


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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