Tips for a Successful Mystery Shopping Program

Here at Customer Perspectives™, we know a successful mystery shopping program doesn’t just “happen”. After over two decades in the business, we’ve got some ideas about what can make a program work best for you. Consider the following:

Know what your objectives are.
It’s important that goals be defined in specific and measurable terms.

Keep it simple.
It’s tempting to develop lengthy questionnaires in an attempt to cover all possible behaviors, but in our experience, the simpler, the better. Confusion and frustration are avoided and the information obtained is more reliable.

Corollary: Allow your mystery shopping provider adequate time to pre-test the questionnaire before rolling out the full program. Weak spots will be detected and modifications can be made more easily and less expensively.

Identify the mystery shopping company that best suits your company’s needs.
Some companies specialize in particular industries; others limit themselves to defined geographic areas. Some companies offer mystery shopping as an adjunct to other services such as customer surveys, concept and design testing, brand image research, and focus group moderation. Others, like Customer Perspectives™, specialize in mystery shopping only.

Get your front line on board.
It’s vital that the people responsible for the results of the mystery shopping program – front line employees, supervisors, store managers and regional managers – understand and are supportive of the program. This is especially true if incentives are tied to the mystery shopping program. Before the program is finalized, management MUST make sure key players are fully informed about how the program will work and how the results will be used.

Assign adequate supervision on your end.
A well run mystery shopping program will require administrative time on your end. Make sure the person assigned to handle the program has the authority to make decisions and the time to act on the results (e.g. coach, provide recognition).

Review periodically.
This is important to keep the program fresh and relevant.

By Judi Hess, Customer Perspectives

If you’d like to talk about ideas for your mystery shopping program, contact us at 1-800-277-4677 or email

Call Toll Free 800-CPSHOPS, to find out how Customer Perspectives’ mystery shopping programs can improve your bottom line!