5 reasons why mystery shopping may not work

The idea behind mystery shopping is to identify areas of improvement for better customer experience. With lack of alternatives, mystery shopping is the age old tradition followed irrespective of its lack of clarity on ROI. Lets see what are the top 5 problems with it.

  • Resource intensive – high costs make it possible to implement only to a few stores at a time. Decision making on this small sample of data is like a one shoe fits all strategy.
  • Not regular – Exhaustive and expensive surveys conducted periodically (quarter/half yearly). This gives a lot of information to work on. Usually leading to expensive and big change. All is well if things work as planned but lead to loss of time, energy, money and opportunity in case of a failure.
  • Delay in receiving information – Such exercise require manual intervention which is time consuming. Issues bothering customers may get missed out in one mystery shop will have to wait for their turn to be unearthed in the next periodic cycle. Unfortunately customers have to continue dealing with such issues till then.
  • Subjective – It’s difficult to get real information, as the mystery shoppers have a built in negative bias with pre conceived notions. The nature of the interaction with store staff is artificial as the shoppers are paid to be critical.
  • ROI hard to calculate – Majority of retailers believe that the return on investment is poor but they continue to invest in them due to a perceived lack of alternatives.

So what is the alternative? How about making every customer a potential mystery shopper? What could store managers do with real-time access to unfiltered information from real customers? What if the store manager could see what their customers really think on a daily basis? What if the store managers use customer feedback data to set goals and drive improvements in the customer experience?

The collective answer to these questions is: sustainable and incremental improvements in the customer experience through regular and real time customer feedback. Store managers can take action by turning customer feedback into actionable tasks to improve the overall customer experience. Real-time data concerning the customer journey provides the focal point of discussion for the daily store staff meetings.

Providing store staff with real customer feedback – good and bad – puts things in perspective and allows them to focus on areas with maximum impact on customer experience.

Please leave in your comments, thoughts and ideas

Reach kushal at