What is the importance of a secret shopper?

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What is a secret shopper and why is mystery shopping key to success?

Mystery shopping or a secret shopper is a tool used externally by market research companies or internally by companies to measure quality of service or compliance to regulation, or to gather specific information about products and services.

The secret shopper or mystery consumer’s specific identity is generally not known by the establishment being evaluated. Mystery shoppers perform specific tasks such as purchasing a product, asking questions, registering complaints or behaving in a certain way. They then provide detailed reports or feedback about their experiences.

Mystery shopping can help the process of managing customer experience, provide a baseline from which to measure improvement in service and related areas. Ultimately through enhanced customer experience it should produce real value for the brand.

What is the importance of mystery shopping?

  • To act as a diagnostic tool identifying failings and weak points in service delivery.
  • To encourage and reward staff by linking outcomes with reward and incentive schemes.
  • To asses competitors by benchmarking service and other standards.

So what are the advantages and disadvantages of mystery shopping?


  • An excellent tool for measuring operational procedures. The variables are easy to measure.
  • Ability to identify weaknesses in customer sales and service delivery (i.e. response time).
  • Ensures employees are complying with industry legal requirements.
  • Identifies whether employees are being honest and adhering to best practice.
  • Ensures that certain employees are rewarded for best practice.
  • Acts as a motivator for staff to maintain good service standards.
  • Empowers staff to meet customer needs more efficiently.


  • Relatively expensive depending on how many projects are run within the programme.
  • Fairly objective in nature and has the potential to overlook subjective elements.
  • Only observes behaviour and does not measure the most important variable of all – the customer’s perception of the service.
  • The results will depend entirely on the memory of the mystery shopper so there is no guarantee of complete accuracy.

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