In an article from the Daily Local News  of West Chester, PA, Gretchen Metz, writes that mystery shopping is a way to determine whether the customer’s impression of  a store’s customer service is in sync with the store’s promise of good customer service. Retail stores want to know if customers were welcomed, if the sales representatives were welcoming or if the store’s physical appearance was up to par. Retailers want to ensure that happy customers come back, because it costs less to retain a customer than to lure a new one.

Mystery shoppers, working as independent contractors, can go into a store and find out if its customer service is working. Mystery shoppers can make more money at it by working hard.

Mystery shopping firms such as Customer Perspectives have grown significant and were valued at $600 million in 2004.  Some 8.1 million mystery “shops” were conducted in 2004. Retail companies made up the largest share of types of businesses that use the services of mystery shoppers.

One mystery shopping firm reported that the most common area of complaint, after a mystery shopper investigates a retail outlet, is that employees do not seem to care the customer is there.