Mystery shopping

Frequently asked questions


Question: How does job or working day of mystery shopper look like?

Answer: If you are given an assignment, before you leave to do it you would have to read all the given instructions. During the assignment you will pay attention to numerous details. You will ask about the products and/or services and sometimes even buy some of them, return them etc.

After the assignment/estimate has been done you need to fill in the questionnaire about your shopping experience. Shortly, your job is to look and act as a regular shopper but at the same moment you need to pay attention to every detail and report it at the end. So, during mystery shopping you do what you usually love or have to do, and you get paid for it.


Question: Who gives money to mystery shoppers that they will spend in mystery shopping?

Answer: Sometimes mystery shoppers during the visit have to buy some product (whatever he wants) in order to measure service quality at cash-desk. In that case, the amount of money spent usually is a part of their fee that has been paid after the estimate has been done, in accordance with previously agreed contract.


Question: How do you do mystery shopping?

Answer: After the client has defined a goal of mystery shopping, agency prepares a questionnaires and scenarios/stories and instructions for mystery shoppers that client has to approve. After the list of locations and employees and shopper profiles is delivered to agency, the agency starts to educate shoppers, prepare them for fieldwork, and later after the fieldwork has been done, agency does quality control and delivers the report.


Question: What is the sample size?

Answer: Mystery shopping measures customer experience, e.g. interaction between customers and company (moments of truth). It measures if at spot of sale is happening what company wants to be happening e.g. if given standards are met. Mystery shopping measures objective facts so the size of the sample is not that important, considering the fact that mystery shopping is a “picture of the moment” and objectively shows if something happen or not. Following that, every mystery shopper’s report can be used as a ground for analyses and customer service improvement.


Question: How often do we need to conduct mystery shopping?

Answer: When mystery shopping is conducting for the first time, advice is to conduct three visits at each spot of sale. After that advice is to conduct one visit per spot of sale continuously: monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or yearly, depending on time necessary for good communication of MS results to employees. Client decides by himself how often mystery shopping will be conducted but it doesn’t have to mean that no mystery shopping will be conducted at all – competitive companies can also conduct mystery shopping at your spot of sales in order to find out what is their position in relation to your company.


Question: Will someone get fired based on results of mystery shopping?

Answer: Mystery shopping is intended exclusively for improving customer service provided to customers. Client can use it exclusively for that purpose, and gained information mustn’t misuse for lying off employees, creating false demand or unfair competition.


Question: What exactly does the agency measure?

Answer: Mystery shopping measures if something happened at the spot of sale or not, it measures if standards (given by a client) are met or not.


Question: Can you conduct mystery shopping at competitors?

Answer: Yes.


Question: Why do I have to inform employees about MS conduction? Wouldn’t the results then be unrealistic?

Answer: Ethical guidelines of MSPA and ESOMAR, as well as government acts of some countries say that if you want to have reports by employees’ name, you have to inform them about MS conduction, but only first time it is being conducted about purpose and goals, not about specific time of conduction.

What you actually want to cause is change in behaviour after the MS has been done, what will happen faster if employees were informed and included from the beginning, you will avoid their feeling about being controlled or spied. Many domestic and international experiences showed biggest effect from MS comes when employees are informed about it from the beginning.


Question: How much does it costs?

Answer: The price of formed in accordance with duration and complex of the estimates as well as quantity. Prices are in accordance with the pricelist.


Question: Why can’t I ask some of my acquaintances to be mystery shoppers for me?

Answer: You can always ask your acquaintances to act as mystery shoppers but that is not a business tool that can be ground for decision making. Mystery shoppers are objective and previously educated for doing estimates that are conducted in accordance with previously arranged criteria. It is also important to know that occasional complaints of relatives and neighbours are not mystery shopping. These and similar information are nothing but search for mistakes and are not gained in a sustainable way so cannot be a ground for decision making, awarding employees or improving service.


Question: Isn’t mystery shopping spying on my employees?

Answer: Mystery shopping isn’t spying on employees but measuring if they follow the standards given by the company. Its goal isn’t to caught employees doing something wrong, but to give them feedback how their customers see them and to prepare adequate education afterwards. Employees should be previously informed about MS conduction, its purpose and goals, but not about the specific time of conduction.


Question: What is mystery shopping?

Answer: It is a business tool for customer service improvement. It is use of individuals trained to experience and measures any customer service process by acting as potential (actual) customers and in some way to report back on their experiences in a detailed and objective way.


Question: What is the difference between mystery shopping and customer satisfaction research? What are advantages of mystery shopping?

Answer: Mystery shopping measures customer experience and moment of truth – if something happened or not, and report what happened during their visit. They explain if employee greeted or not, if he offered product or not what means  that information gained with mystery shopping are objective while customer satisfaction research gains subjective feelings and opinions of customers. Mystery shopping cannot replace customer satisfaction research and vice versa – it is like mixing apples and pears. It is important to use both kinds of research while analysing and making decisions.

For example, first step to have an excellent service is to conduct customer satisfaction research because at the beginning we need to know who are customer are, what do they want from us and what is important for them. These information should be a ground for implementing standards in the company and then we can start with mystery shopping program – to measure if these standards are being followed.


Question: Who is mystery shopper and what does he do?

Answer: Mystery shopper is usually a regular shopper and we send him to do the estimate at client’s request. The only difference between mystery and regular shopper is that mystery shopper in advance gets the instructions what he need to pay attention to during his visit to shop and at the end he reports on it. The most important thing is that mystery shopper’s profile suits to profile of regular customer in order not to stand out or become suspicious.


Question: Can mystery shopper give reliable information?

Answer: Questionnaires prepared by the agency that mystery shoppers fill in after they have conducted an estimate are prepared in order to get objective and reliable information. Questions are arranged in order to give an answer if something happened or not, if something existed in a shop or not. Then, detailed description of space and employees and details about time of visit and from invoice are a fact that estimates has been done appropriately.


Question: In what industries mystery shoppers are used?

Answer: Now mystery shoppers are used in almost all industries  – retail companies, retail chains, banks and other finance institution, car industry – sales and after sales, gas stations, manufacturers and dealers, call centres, government institutions, franchises, hotels, restaurants, fast food, perfumeries, clothing  and shoe boutiques, cinemas, couriers etc.


Question: Did someone get fired based on mystery shopping results?

Answer: Mystery shopping mustn’t be misused for creating false demand, disturbing the business of competition or for lying off employees. By accepting our offer and/or signing a contract, a client accepts this obligation.