9 main secrets for high quality mystery shopping

Mystery Shoppers.

They are the persons who play a key role in this process. Everything connected with the profile and the way provider chooses the right target audience among shoppers for the client (by income, age, and behavioral factors) is important. The shoppers correspond to the target audience and its buying force.

If we are talking about a luxury brand, the company needs to find the audience that directly corresponds to the client’s business.

If the target audience doesn’t correspond to client needs, it can lead to risks of obtaining a poor-quality research result that is impossible to analyze afterwards.

For example, let us imagine that a young guy pays a visit to Tesla, accordingly the result of his check will be close to zero since a visit to car dealership of such a segment, by itself, has a wow effect on him. In this case, the target audience for the client is poorly chosen.

Other examples of a mystery shopper’s bad portrait: a man comes to a shop selling kitchen utensils, and a woman stops to buy car parts.

Such situations can arouse suspicion and lead to bad results of any mystery visit.

Besides the target audience, it is necessary to know a mystery shopper’s story: experience in previous projects, photos, as well as the quality of questionnaires he provided.
Such issues must be strictly followed by mystery shopping companies and bad mystery shoppers must be dismissed.

It’s also important that mystery shopping agency has shoppers in all regions and they are able to cover any necessary location.


Mystery shopper Questionnaire.

The questionnaire is also an important element of the mystery shopping research.
When developing the questionnaire, it is necessary to consider business factors and client goals, to take into account what stage client is at. For example, he wants to check the shop assistant’s work or increase sales.
All these questions are very important at this stage.

Mystery Shopping Company develops a questionnaire based on their experience and skills. The provider has to learn client’s situation and his business standards from the inside since the standards, legend, and the questionnaire for the visit are created based on those factors. Consultations and coordination between provider and client are necessary during development in order to create the right questionnaire that meets stated requirements and a customer’s goal.

Mystery shopping questionnaire includes priorities, key questions and reveals all issues the client is looking for.

At the same time, the requirements must be clearly set, for example – it is important to check how the shop assistants greet customers or observe their behavior in unusual situations.


Training for shoppers.

This stage constitutes an important part of mystery visit preparations. In order to prepare everything with the best quality, mystery shopping provider needs to invest their effort and money. The company should provide proper training for mystery shoppers, as well as certify, control and assist them at all work stages.

The instruction should be logical, simple and understandable so that the shopper can easily master it and doesn’t have the difficulties during the visit.

The instruction also contains what time the shopper should come to the establishment for the check.

The scenario should be discussed with the client and be as natural as possible so that the shopper does not feel embarrassed.

The details of the scenario should be simple to perform, natural and make an impression of the ordinary customer’s visit to the establishment.

Otherwise, if the mystery shopper acts in a non-standard way, it may be noticed by the staff and arouse suspicion.

Certification. This is the next stage of the shopper preparation. After the mystery shopper received printed, audio or video materials for training and looked through them, he should also be certified.

Certification includes detailed information about what the shopper needs and does not need to do during the visit. It is very important to check how well the mystery shopper has mastered the instructions.

Certification includes around 10 questions related to the main details of the visit.

For example, to check such details as the time when the mystery shopper should pay a visit since the client wants to check the staff work quality during rush hour when many people are having lunch at the establishment.

Or check if shopper knows he must register in advance for test-drive.

Proofreading. The proofreading and processing of questionnaires are an important step in the mystery shopping process. It is of common knowledge that people make mistakes. A shopper can make a mistake in providing information, make grammatical mistakes, provide bad quality photos, or also give an inaccurate information about the service quality. For example:

The report has the Did employee greet you? question, to which the mystery shopper answered “No”, but answered positively to the Did employee smile to you? question.

The mystery shopping company should provide a high-quality proofreading of mystery shoppers’ questionnaires.
Proofreaders should check, fix, and remove excess information from reports. Selecting and training employees who are able to provide the most valid data and quality reporting is a very significant factor.

When working on reports, our experts use a Python-based algorithm that determines all the grammatical mistakes in the report.



It is not a secret that experienced and successful employees are highly valued in any area.
A strong team consisting of service managers, coordinators in different countries and other staff representatives can provide a high-quality mystery shopping of any complexity level.

It is necessary to have employees experienced in particular areas: restaurant business, fast food, pharmacies, etc., as well as to have specialists possessing knowledge of local shoppers’ behavior in every region.


Numerous opinions.

This is the key to success and a factor you should focus on. It is crucial to conduct a sufficient number of checks as well as the correct sampling based on several visits. This is especially important for large businesses (hypermarkets, large chain of stores).

The more mystery shoppers make secret checks, the more opinions we get. As a result, the quality and validity of research increase significantly.

The more people and opinions in the project – the higher quality of the research is.

Our specialists define the optimal sampling depending on the client flow in the region. At the same time, regularity of visits is also important for successful mystery shopping.
The main purpose of the mystery shopping research is not a one-time check, but constant work on service quality, since one check shows only temporary condition of the business at a given time.

The regularity of mystery visits and constant monitoring of what is happening in both good and bad senses is of big importance.



We live in an era of big data. It constitutes of the most important elements in mystery shopping.

Qualitative analytics helps to identify implicit patterns and find answers to the Why question and to see which questions in the list affect the NPS (Net Promoter Score) most of all. For example, how employees greet customers. And to determine which issues are most important for customers.

It is also very important to know what the client will do with the data received.

Since the report is the final product of the mystery shopping monitoring, it should show the client his trends and where the main gaps are.

Mystery shopping provider’s task is to analyze the data and answer the Why did these gaps appear? question; as well as to give recommendations on how to fix it, how to use analytics, what kind of loyalty program to build, where are the areas to be improved, what motivational program would help to increase the service level and company’s profit.

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