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Top Five Factors in Designing an Effective Mystery Shopper Program

A well-designed, comprehensive mystery shopper program is a highly effective way to get an honest, detailed look at your business through the eyes of your customers. It is critical that organizations have access to current and objective feedback about the customer or guest experience to ensure brand standards are being met, operations standards are in compliance, and customer expectations are being exceeded.  But sending in random volunteers without good structure, frequency, and reporting capabilities will not get you the results to help you make better business decisions.

Here are five critical elements in designing an effective Mystery Shopper Program that drives results.


An effective program relies on your ability to have a market research mentality. That means you must approach the program with a plan for collecting enough data to form a good representative sample. This subset of secret visits must accurately reflect the experience of the general population. For example, collect data for weekends as well as weekdays. If you have morning, afternoon or evening customers, ensure each is represented in your sample set every month. Collecting this volume of data across various shift periods will give you the most accurate trending data and mitigate the effect of outliers. This will result in better allocation of time and resources to solve problems that require real improvement rather than being reactive to a single point in time.


We have been in business and perfecting our questionnaire templates for almost two decades. Leveraging existing, proven questionnaire templates that are tailored for your industry allows you to take advantage of knowledge we’ve compiled over the years. This not only accelerates setup time, but also allows you to benchmark your findings against others in your industry to know how you compare and where you can find opportunities to differentiate.


Most everyone will be able to provide you an emailed copy of the shopper’s report when it is complete. But referring back to point #1 – that’s not enough to identify trends. That will give you a picture of one moment in time, but will not help you determine which areas require your time and budget to improve customer satisfaction overall. Having access to a real-time online reporting dashboard allows you to view trending data and often provides visualization to help you consume these KPI’s more easily.


Our Per Shop pricing is very transparent. One part is our Cost of Services which is built using our Pricing Calculator and the other is the compensation for the mystery shopper. Compensation is paid directly to the mystery shopper and includes reimbursement for all required expenses and additional money for the time to complete the assignment. The more the shopper can take home for the assignment, the more motivated they are going to be to take the assignment and do it well. By enticing them to complete the job with adequate compensation, you increase our ability to attract the best mystery shoppers available to complete your assignment.


There are many choices when it comes to selecting a mystery shop partner. However, service levels, quality of shoppers and reporting capabilities vary greatly.  Ensure the company you work with has access to an acceptable database of shoppers that provide coverage for your area and your target demographics. Additionally, be sure your provider doesn’t just sign you up and leave you hanging. We provide a dedicated Client Relationship Manager to all of our clients to ensure that they are getting the most value from their program with us as possible.

These top five factors will help ensure you have a successful mystery shop program. But the list doesn’t end there. Contact us today to learn more about how we will partner with you to help grow your business!