Mystery Mapping: Use Secret Shopping Programs To Craft Customer Journeys

Capturing accurate information about customer behavior can be a major differentiator between growth or stagnation for brands in any industry. This is especially true in the modern age, because improved technology has granted customers more divergent paths-to-purchasing than ever before. As a result, organizations must strive to provide a consistent experience across these growing pathways. One key to unlocking this information is to implement mystery-mapping practices, which is the practice of focusing a mystery shopping program on several specific elements to form an overall customer journey map.

In the mystery shopping industry, there has been a trend away from overall evaluations. Rather than trying to capture an expansive understanding of the way customers perceive your overall brand image, these programs are used to capture details about more specific instances. Mystery mapping is the practice of taking the data provided by mystery shopping programs to craft a broader perspective of customer behavior. This can be very helpful for brands because it allows them to not only update a potentially stale Customer Experience, but also to find specific points along the customer journey that serve as significant moments in the shaping of your overall brand perception.

If your organization has never completed mystery shopping or journey mapping programs before, it can be difficult to find the starting point of a successful program. Depending on the industry you encompass, customers will have different ways that they conduct the research that will eventually lead them to your website or brick-and-mortar location. It is important that your organization finds a partner that is able to expertly design a measurement program that allows your team to simply navigate along the theorized customer journey.

Mystery shopping is an effective way of creating these maps because it provides an unbiased, outside-in perspective of your brand performance. Start by creating a hypothesis of what your team believes the typical path-to-purchase would look like, and then instruct the evaluators to confirm your suspicions. Different assignment guidelines will determine the target for each individual evaluator, who will complete their analysis of the prescribed moment and submit their opinions directly to your organization in a clear and concise manner. Once you have analyzed all of the necessary moments along the journey, confirm whether or not the theorized customer journey you created at the beginning of the process is the actual way that customers are finding your brand.

There are so many different ways to acquire this kind of information, but ultimately your brand needs a program that ensures data integrity and actionable insights. Otherwise, the necessary investment could wind up being labeled as wasteful or unnecessary. As a result, most brands will find third-party vendors that are experts at designing, implementing, and reporting on the information provided by these programs in a secure and efficient manner. The best practice to guarantee success is to find a partner with the ability to handle the many different needs of a mystery mapping program, rather than segmenting the tasks to different organizations. Find a vendor that is able to not only design and provide a mystery shopping program, but is also able to clearly report on that data in a way so that your team is supremely knowledgeable about the potential paths customers may take before purchasing a product.


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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