Mystery shopping

Mystery shopping dictionary

Mystery shopping (Secret Shopping, Performance Evaluations, Service Monitoring, Quality Auditing, Anonymous Audits, Performance Audits, Telephone Checks, Service Investigations, Service Checks, Frontline Evaluations, Employee Evaluations) = use of individuals trained to experience and measure any customer service process by acting as a potential (actual) customers and in some way to report back on their experiences in a detailed and objective way.

Mystery Shoppers (Mystery Guests, Mystery Customers, Virtual Customers, Trained Customers, Anonymous Guests, Secret Shoppers, Test Shoppers, Virtual Shoppers, Fake Shoppers, Trial Shoppers, Mystery Callers, Mystery Spot) = previously selected and trained persons posing a real or potential customers, who evaluate each phase of their contact with a company.

Mystery shops = customer service evaluations using mystery shoppers regardless if they are made in person, by phone or e-mail and even if they are made in other industries than retail shops.

Mystery shopping provider = a company (agency) that offers mystery shopping services.

Mystery Shopping Professionals Association (MSPA) = largest professional trade association dedicated to improve service quality using anonymous resources, with almost 300 member companies worldwide. More info at:

MSPA guidelines = a set of ethical guidelines issued by MSŠA, regulating requirements for good quality of mystery shopping. More details at:

Mystery shopper certification = MSPA’s program for training, testing and verifying mystery shoppers, who have understood the ethical guidelines and procedures of conducting mystery shopping with a high level of quality and professionalism. More details at:

Mock shop = test shop, beginners usually do it in order to test or prepare themselves for the real shop.

Integrity shops = shops designed and implemented to test the honesty and integrity of front-end employees as well as loss prevention. MSPA members are advised not to do it but rather to leave it to private investigators.

Audio shops = method of mystery shopping, includes taping conversations. In many countries it is illegal or previous written consent of each employee involved in that kind of mystery shopping is required.

Video shops = method of mystery shopping which includes recording with small cameras hidden in e.g. buttons. In many countries it is illegal or previous written consent of each employee involved in that kind of mystery shopping is required.

Mystery calls = a method of mystery shopping where evaluations are made over the telephone.

Benchmarking mystery shopping or competitive shops = shops to clients’ competitors in order to benchmark results.

Scheduler = a person in company assigned by the MS provider to schedule shoppers for one or more projects.

Project manager = an employee of MS provider in charge of whole mystery shopping project.

Editor = a person or company assigned by MS provider with the task of editing mystery shoppers’ questionnaires in respect of consistency of answers and narratives, as well as grammar and spelling.

Online reporting = a web based database program allowing mystery shoppers to submit data from visits, providers to edit and conduct quality control and clients to access reports, all within 24 hours after the visit.

Mystery Shopping Project = a set of shops ordered by the client that MS provider must perform and report on in a certain period of time.

Mystery Shopping Scenario = stories prepared before execution of MS project in order to test specific topic of the study. The validity of every study depends on the design end execution of the scenarios used. These scenarios should be relevant, credible, ethical, practical, safe for the mystery shopper and objective.

Mystery shopping questionnaire = a form with questions that shoppers must pay attention to and report on after the visit. Is usually consists of YEY/NO closed ended questions, comments and narratives.

Narratives = part of the MS questionnaires that chronologically and objectively describes mystery shoppers’ customer experience. The narratives are often in the end of the questionnaire.