What Is Mystery Shopping?
Mystery shopping is the practice of using educated, experienced shoppers to anonymously evaluate customer service, operations, merchandising, product quality and other elements of the consumer’s experience. Mystery Shoppers receive instructions that outline the specific details they are looking for when they conduct an evaluation, whether over the phone, in-person, or online.

Why is Mystery Shopping helpful?
Mystery Shopping allows companies to obtain a “snapshot in time” by trained researchers who know in advance what they are to evaluate. It provides management a method to quickly and efficiently evaluate their business practices, service protocol, and employee training from the perspective of a non-biased consumer.

Why do companies use Mystery Shopping?
Companies use mystery shopping to understand and improve the typical customer experience at each of its locations and throughout their organization. Companies often reward positive customer experiences and use shopper evaluations to continually improve service, product quality and cleanliness.

What types of companies use Mystery Shopping?
Consumer-based companies, manufacturers, and business-to-business companies all use mystery shopping. These include both large and small companies, including quick-service and high-end restaurants, hotels and resorts, banks and financial service providers, apartments, convenience and gift stores, automotive service facilities, seasonal retailers, computer/electronics companies, luxury products retailers, home builders, self-storage facilities, advertising and promotions agencies, research companies and grocery stores. 

Are there different types of Mystery Shops?
Mystery shopping can take many forms. Some common types of shops include traditional on-site mystery shopper visits, employee-reward shops, competitive shops, telephone shops, digital photo shops, internet service evaluations, onsite operational, marketing and merchandising audits, and more.

Why choose Mystery Shopping over customer comment cards, customer response phone lines and IVR’s (Interactive voice recognition)?
It’s unfortunate that many IVR and customer response providers/vendors have chosen to position customer response surveys as a replacement for mystery shopping. They are not the same types of research tools. Mystery shopping provides an objective, fact-based operational/service evaluation using people who know exactly what to look for before conducting their evaluations. IVR or any form of customer satisfaction surveys capture highly subjective feelings and emotions from customers that did not know they were going to conduct a survey before the visit. They didn’t focus on any particular issues and they didn’t make any notes about the visit.

Can companies use both Mystery Shopping along with other types of customer research?
Quest for Best believes that a company should consider using multiple services if their budget allows. This will provide both objective, fact-based research as well as subjective, opinion-based research.  We make both available to our clients at reasonable rates.

How are Mystery Shopper Compensated?
Compensation for mystery shopping varies depending on the type of industry, the level of difficulty required to complete the assignment and the detail required by the client.

Is Mystery Shopping confidential?
Shoppers are not allowed to divulge specific information on which companies they shop for or how much they make per assignment because of confidentiality requirements dictated by our customers.

Who are these Mystery Shoppers?
As a client, you will find most of our mystery shoppers to be local people that live within 5 to 50 miles of your location. It is a common misnomer that mystery shoppers are mostly stay-at-home moms looking for supplemental income. In truth, men and women of all ages and all backgrounds are mystery shoppers, including recent college graduates, people between professions, retired professionals, and people traveling by RV.

Are shoppers trained and certified?
Because of our reach, we are able to use experienced mystery shoppers in most of the areas we serve. Each prospective mystery shopper is screened for availability. They are then assigned a test evaluation in a restaurant or store in their area. Their test report is evaluated for written communication skills, handwriting, and an eye for detail.  Once a shopper is chosen for rotation, they are orientated as to the background of the client, time perimeters, and any other requirements of the project.

Once placed in the shopper rotation each shopper is sent their assignment along with a support package containing detailed guidelines and visitation windows.  Our shoppers receive frequent up-dates and are kept informed of all changes, even if they are not in the rotation for that particular month.  Each shopper is provided with support information so they can have any questions answered quickly and correctly before submitting their report.

How do you monitor performance? 
Each individual shopper’s scores are tracked on a monthly basis.  Any shopper that appears to be out of sync with the average of the other shoppers doing the same locations will receive additional guidance and coaching. While in the field, we perform "ride alongs" with shoppers that require more "one on one" assistance and coaching.

What are Gold and Silver Certified Shoppers?
We recognize our shoppers in the field as professionals. We believe in education, certification and shopper standardization. In conjunction with MSPA, we have adopted a Silver and Gold Certification program for our Mystery Shoppers. Shoppers who have demonstrated the highest level of professionalism and met the criteria are certified either Silver or Gold.  These certified shoppers are always given top priority in assignments.

What do you know about fraudulent practices aimed at people that want to be mystery shoppers?
An increasing number of Web and newspaper advertisements are offering better access to mystery shopping assignments by paying a one-time fee. Quest for Best does not approve of this practice and does not have any association with companies that sell company lists or otherwise charge potential shoppers a fee for access to mystery shopping assignments.

How do we get the results of our mystery shopper visits?
Clients receive a monthly report outlining each location’s performance in a variety of categories. These reports are available on a dedicated Web site set up for your company. You will be able to adjust the available trend reports, views and queries to fit your specific needs. Email alerts notify you of surveys that are below standard.

Do you charge a set up fee, or a fee for additional reports and survey changes?
For clients with mystery shopping events of 10 or more per month, we do not charge a set up fee. There is never a charge for additional reports, changes in the survey forms or visitation perimeters.

What is included with my basic program fee?

  • Delivery of high-quality on-site mystery shops.
  • Quick turn-around time of mystery shop results presentation.
  • A written narrative/evaluation of the mystery shop.
  • Instant e-mail notification to view reporting via the Internet.
  • Monthly summary reports to view trends, assess needs.