Mystery Shopper: the Marketing Spy

Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 2826 , Published on 10 March 2011

The most important aspect of a business is to make sure that your customer is the king. Every customer likes to feel that his needs would be fulfilled when he goes and purchases a certain product. Apart from that, the customer expects a certain level of comfort, respect and service would be given to him by the organization. To make sure the customer-facing employees are well trained and efficient, organisations conduct rigorous training exercises to polish their employees. But despite all this, certain loopholes emerge due to employee attitudes and lack of professionalism in managing processes. And to counter the ineffectiveness of services only one strategy can come to the company's rescue- the Mystery shopper.


Mystery Shopper

Mystery shopper is nothing but a senior employee or manager or a marketing research executive who disguises himself as a prospective customer and undergoes the entire process which a customer would undergo in front of his customer-facing team. A mystery shopper hides his identity and goes as a spy to understand the operations, customer related issues, behavior of the employees and scope of improvement in the entire process.


Mystery shopping is performed basically to understand the customer-facing processes that exist at dealerships, service centres and franchisees. Mystery shoppers either take a systematic approach and reach as a well informed customer or reach as a layman who has limited product knowledge. This enables them to understand how the employees perceive the customer and how willing are the employees to understand and solve the queries of the customer.


Mystery shopping involves undergoing the entire operational process which a customer would face. For e.g. at automobile dealerships, the processes involved are demonstrating the vehicle features, briefing the customer about loans and payments, discussing after-sales services, getting appointments for test drives etc. Apart from that the genuine attention that service centre employees and sales personnel give to the customer is also understood by the mystery shopper.


Mystery shopping is essential not only for understanding the existing processes of the business, but also helps in understanding the differences as compared to the competitors. Competitor processes are also analyzed secretly so as to extract the positive aspects and remove the negative aspects from their own processes. Moreover, coordination between various teams can also be understood to generate a better customer experience. Mystery shopping also helps in understanding the deviation of processes present at franchisees as compared with the original existing processes.


With constant innovation, improvement in technology and easy availability of quality products, the competition between companies is intense. The world of customers, with the knowledge surrounding them, has also become extremely sensitive and selective. Especially for the service industry, it’s their customer-facing operations, which is ultimately their marketing. Thus, organisations have to put in that extra effort to give the customer that special experience. And any flaws or loopholes can be secretly found out and rectified by playing the ultimate marketing trump card- the 'Mystery shopper'.


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