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Ongoing Mystery Shopping versus One-Time Projects

We have clients of all shape and sizes utilizing our mystery shopping services in a multitude of ways to benefit their respective organizations. When setting up a program, there are a number of important decisions to be made. The first step is to determine the end goal because that helps give us context and allows our team to make the best professional recommendations in return.

The majority of the work we’ve done to date falls under one of two large buckets:

  • Ongoing, consistent shopping programs
  • One-time projects

Best Fit for Ongoing Programs

When evaluating a client for an ongoing mystery shopping program, we tend to look for a few things to determine the potential ROI:

Growth plans

Do you have plans to expand your business and add new locations? If so, you’ll need some extra sets of eyes out there ensuring that as you grow, your customer experience remains consistent. Because of this, you’ll want to continue sending in shoppers on an ongoing basis to help train up new staff members as they come on board and get settled in.

Large customer base

Do you have a large volume of customers coming in and out of your business each day? If so, you won’t want to simply rely on your managers to see everything (they can’t) and you also won’t want to put too much stake in your survey results or Yelp reviews – those methods collect subjective feedback and after the experience has already happened (too late). Sprinkle in some shoppers and they will help you proactively stay out in front of any issues.

Constantly making changes

This applies to almost every business out there – We are always evolving and trying to get better, right? The only problem is that some changes that are made with the best intentions end up producing adverse results when it comes to the customer experience. Our clients use mystery shoppers to ensure that nothing falls between the cracks as they are constantly evolving their approach.

Keep staff on their toes

What is the one thing that a consistent mystery shopping program does that you won’t get from any other strategy/tool? The simple fact that anyone could be watching at any given time! Yes, both the feedback and data are extremely helpful and useful, but don’t be fooled – companies have been using mystery shoppers consistently for decades and telling their teams so that they can be sure that everyone is putting their best foot forward at all times (in theory).


Our best clients have their teams’ bonuses and incentives tied directly to their mystery shopping scores year in and year out. This keeps the organization aligned culturally and financially from top to bottom, so long as everyone knows what they are being assessed on and understand how they can ‘ace the test’ when they show up for work each day.

Best Fit for One-Time Projects

One-time projects are often most useful for organizations when they are:

  • Planning to make a change and want to use the collection of data to aid in the decision-making process
  • Just made a change and want to collect some data around the effects of that change, and establish whether additional changes need to be made to achieve the desired outcome
  • Has a hunch about something happening within their business and wants to secretly find out if their hunch is correct
  • Looking to create a more robust internal training program and need to collect some objective data to help better understand what areas to include or emphasize in the new program
    • This is typically followed by an ongoing program to ensure the consistent success of the new program and to identify ways to further improve said program

Not sure which type of program is the best fit for your organization? Contact us and we can help you choose the right approach for your goals.