The Value of Keeping Your Mystery Shopping Program Simple

When collecting Customer Experience data, many organizations will try and widen the scope of their research as much as possible so that they can gain maximum insights for each dollar they spend. While this makes sense in theory, in practice the more facets you add into a mystery shopping program the less likely it is to provide quality, actionable insights. The most effective programs are those that have a clear and direct goal, and avoid becoming overly complicated for both the mystery shopping vendor, and the shoppers themselves. By segmenting the goals of your mystery shopping program, it will be more efficient and you will capture better data about each individual aspect of your Customer Experience.

In the initial phases of the relationship with a mystery shopping vendor, brands need to be clear and direct with what they are hoping to gain by implementing the program. While the vendor can help pin down the right areas to focus on based on previous experience, it is important that brand leadership has an exact moment along the customer journey they are trying to illuminate. If there is no clear purpose, then it becomes extremely challenging to craft guidelines and assessment questions that will result in actionable results produced by the shoppers.

One common problem with mystery shopping programs is the inability to find evaluators willing to complete the assignments. This is especially true for higher-end products or services, because there is more inherent risk that the shopper winds up not doing the evaluation correctly, leading to a sunk cost and wasted time for the evaluator. As a result, shoppers will usually avoid shop assignments that have overly complicated instructions and assessments, even if there is a higher pay, because it is simply too high of a chance that they will do something wrong, and subsequently not receive a payment.

From an outsider’s perspective, it makes sense that brands want to gain as much information about their Customer Experience as possible from their mystery shopping programs. These programs require a considerable time and financial investment, so it is important that when you do implement them into your Customer Experience platform, they are yielding actionable results. However, there is a fine line between capturing a large swathe of legitimate data compared to a vast pool of unusable information.

One of the most important phases of a mystery shopping program is quality assurance. This is a time-consuming, albeit vital process where individuals from the mystery shopping vendor will toil through evaluations to ensure that the data collected is not tarnished in any way. Once a program is implemented, brands want insights as soon as possible, but overly complicated assessments mean that it takes a lot more time to go through and ensure the quality of each individual submission. Simplicity contributes to shortening the timeline of each project so that your brand can start improving its Customer Experience as soon as possible.

Organizations need to be at a certain stage of their life-cycle to implement a successful mystery shopping program. It is a scientific process that ultimately provides brands with highly valuable insights about the way that customers perceive their brand. It is easy to add a bunch of complementary factors during the initial design of the program, but in practice, adding a variety of different factors to measure at once will impact the likelihood of these shops being filled, as well as elongating the amount of time it will take for your organization to receive insights and start making changes.


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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