What Mystery Shopping Can Teach You About Customer Service


Almost everyone in the service industry knows how important it is to listen to the voice of the customer. However, listening is not the same as understanding and businesses often misunderstand the information provided by different customer feedback channels.

You might know that you are doing “OK” in the area of customer service, but you do not have evidence to back that assessment up.

There are different channels that aid to understand how the customer service performance is that can range from first-hand observations to review sites and social media feedback to opinion polls and so on, each of them having specific advantages and disadvantages and each fitting for specific situations and outcomes. One tool that we discuss in more detail today that often is used to evaluate the quality of the customer experience in service industries is Mystery Shopping.

A mystery shopper plays the role of a customer, evaluating service according to a given scenario, working with a checklist of criteria that measure compliance with standards that are set by your own company or an external institution.

Since Mystery Shopping works with checklists, it can be used to measure efficiency. For example, it gives insight in how promptly a customer is greeted and taking a hotel as an example, if greeted by name, and it can give insights in the branch appearance, etc.

With Mystery Shopping, the employees’ behaviour that have the biggest impact on your sales can be analysed. For example, a Mystery Shopper can observe if the employee asked to sign up for a loyalty program or not. Thus, Mystery Shopping shows where the money on training staff should be spent on to improve customer service.

Besides using Mystery Shopping to determine training needs, it is also a useful tool to use after trainings have been completed, as it shows if the training was effective.
Trustworthy companies let their staff know that they will be checked. It thus is a possibility to already let your staff know what they are checked on whilst the Mystery Visits are in progress. For example, in Quarter X, we focus on if our sales employees asked to sign up for a loyalty program. A person that knows what he or she is checked for pays attention to that task and does it more consciously, which will reinforce that behaviour.

You might be of the mind that you can get the same information without a mystery shopping program. Why not just observe your employees? Point of fact: employees always behave better when a supervisor is around. Maybe just ask your customers for feedback! That might is an idea but will not lead to the same results. Customers might give feedback, but they do not focus on relevant issues. Mystery Shoppers are clear on the standards that are expected from your staff and will provide insights how your team is executing to those benchmarks. These observations are not subjective and not compared to previous visits’ to the same or any other store.

Having good customer service is crucial, the Customer Service Report found that „66% of US consumers are willing to spend more money with a company that provides them with excellent customer service, according to Microsoft, while 60% of consumers say they have not completed an intended purchase due to a poor customer service experience.“