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What Are the Pros and Cons of Mystery Shopping?

What Are the Pros and Cons of Mystery Shopping?

Many companies turn to mystery shopping programs to find out how their customers and clients are being treated by their employees. Implementing mystery shoppers into your business helps you to see how successful your company is in providing good products and services to others. That being said, hiring a mystery shopping program can be beneficial for you as a business person. But what exactly is mystery shopping and what are the downsides to its outcome? Here are some pros and cons of mystery shopping.

What Is Mystery Shopping?

Mystery shopping is the hiring of freelance shoppers by a company to essentially act as a customer at their business in order to evaluate the customers’ satisfaction. A mystery shopper visits the company’s store, restaurant, or other building and they take note of a variety of things to then relay back to the business owner. The business hires these mystery shoppers with the hopes of discovering how successful their business is from a customer’s perspective.

Essentially, if you’re the business owner, you’ll request information about a variety of different things for the mystery shopper to evaluate and they can take note of these things during their visit. Most mystery shopping experiences allow business owners to discover how employees perform, how their services and products are being treated, and how things can be improved.

Pros of Mystery Shopping

Evaluate Customer Experience

One of the most advantageous aspects of implementing mystery shoppers into your business is that you can evaluate how satisfied customers are with the service that your business offers. By doing this service, you can see exactly how customers are being treated. Not only can the mystery shoppers take note of the presentation by the people you have employed, but they can also note how the customer is treated with regards to the company’s policies and services in general. They can also note things about the overall appearance of your company as well, like the cleanliness and first impressions.

Gain Feedback about Policies

Whether you’re a new business or you’ve been around for a while, it can be beneficial for you to gain insight into how any new policies are implemented. Hiring a mystery shopper program can give you an outsider’s look into the policies that you have introduced into your service, so they can better analyze if those policies are effective or not.

Compare Services to Competitors

Depending on the type of service you provide, mystery shoppers can give you a look into how your company’s products, services, and impressions compare to the competition in the industry you may have. By comparing to your competition, you can find ways to improve your business to rise above your competitors.

Increase Employee Performance

Lastly, implementing a mystery shopping program can help you to increase the performance of your employees. Since your workers are aware of you hiring mystery shoppers and they don’t know which customers are hired, they’ll be more likely to provide excellent service to every customer they encounter. This will also help you more easily identify which employees have repeatedly delivered poor customer service.

Cons of Mystery Shopping

Lack of Transparency

Hiring mystery shoppers isn’t a fully transactional service, as they’re human beings and have biases/make mistakes. Because of this, the information they provide you may not all be correct and unbiased. This doesn’t have to be a disadvantage to mystery shopping in general though, as there are high-quality programs that can deliver excellent results for your company.

May Provide Insufficient Data

Another disadvantage to hiring a mystery shopping service is that you may not get all of the information you asked for. Sometimes individual customer experiences vary, so not all of the mystery shoppers you hire will give you the same information. This is why it’s important to hire a number of shoppers.

Closing Thoughts

Overall, the mystery shopping process can be an effective tool for business owners to find out if their company is delivering good products and services to its customers. Sometimes, as a company, it can be challenging to spot issues within the services offered from afar, but hiring mystery shoppers lets you get on the ground level to see what areas are problematic and what can be improved. This isn’t necessarily recommended for every company, but if you think it’d be a good fit, then consider hiring mystery shoppers in the future.


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by Tracie Johnson // Tracie Johnson is a New Jersey native and an alum of Penn State University. She is passionate about writing, reading, and living a healthy lifestyle. She feels happiest when around a campfire surrounded by friends, family, and her Dachshund named Rufus.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.