3 min read

The Many Faces of Mystery Shoppers

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If you've followed our blog you’ll know that mystery shopping is one of the main channels we recommend for customer experience measurement. But who exactly are mystery shoppers can still cause some confusion.

Mystery shopping, also referred to as secret shopping or covert inspections, can take on a variety of forms. This is because an effective mystery shopping program should mirror how your customers interact with your brand. Here we’ll look at the four most common types of mystery shopping and which industries tend to benefit most from them.

  1. In-Person Mystery Shopping
  2. Telephone Mystery Shopping
  3. Virtual Mystery Shopping
  4. Multiple Touchpoint (Hybrid) Mystery Shopping

1. In-Person Mystery Shopping

Arguably the most common type, and likely what you imagine when you think of mystery shopping, is when a secret shopper visits a location armed with pre-determined criteria which they use to measure the staff and businesses performance. This kind of shop can take anywhere from minutes to hours depending on the nature of what is being measured, the purpose of the shop, and the businesses specific type of industry.

In-person mystery shops are great for businesses where a shopper can present themselves as a potential customer without causing any suspicion. As a result, they are mostly used by the following industries:

  • Retail
  • Restaurant
  • Petro-Convenience
  • Banking
  • Fitness
  • Personal Electronics
  • Hotel
  • Health Care
  • Automotive

2. Telephone Mystery Shopping

An alternative to physically visiting a location is for secret shoppers to call in to a business. This kind of mystery shopping is heavily used to assess call centres, but shouldn’t be overlooked by any business who can be reached by phone as it’s important that your customers have the same level of experience regardless how they interact with your brand.

Telephone mystery shops can mimic anything from completing a remote purchase to simply calling for additional information. This type of secret shopping is primarily used by the following industries:

  • Call Centres
  • Hotel
  • Travel
  • Tourism
  • Information Technology
  • Telecommunications
  • Health Care

3. Virtual Mystery Shopping

Virtual mystery shops, sometimes called internet mystery shops, are when a secret shopper engages with a brand online. As we’ve seen in our Changes in Consumer Habits Reports, online shopping has been on a steady rise and is showing no signs of receding – making this type of program increasingly important.

These virtual shops are conducted by a secret shopper who assesses how responsive a company is online, how easy their website is to navigate, or how they interact with customers on social media. Similar to telephone mystery shopping, virtual mystery shopping should not be overlooked by any brand with a digital presence, but is most commonly used by the following industries:

  • Travel
  • Telecommunications
  • Automotive
  • Real Estate
  • E-Commerce

4. Multiple Touchpoint (Hybrid) Mystery Shopping

Many companies require multiple types of mystery shopping to accurately measure their customers’ overall experience. As we mentioned at the beginning, your mystery shopping program should mirror how your customers interact with your brand.

This means if your brand has a physical location, customer service desk with a phone and a website, you’ll want all of the above. Hybrid mystery shopping involves secret shoppers following an entire customer journey - from the internet to the telephone to a live experience.

Depending on the nature and size of your business, many companies benefit from hybrid mystery shops, but they are most commonly used by the following industries:

  • Banking
  • Travel
  • Health Care
  • Hotel
  • Real Estate
  • Automotive

So who are mystery shoppers? Mystery shoppers are any covert inspectors measuring your operations or customer experience. Which style is right for you will simply depend on your industry and unique business model.

Want to know more? Check out our mystery shopping page to learn more about the services provided by Intouch Insight or complete our quick services recommender for more information to help you on your journey to operational excellence!