When Shopping Becomes a Mystery

secret shopping company

Many of us have already had the experience of going out the door to do “some” shopping but ending up with half of the bank account empty. But did you know that some people are actually paid by a company to go shopping? In this case, they all of a sudden get the label of  a “Mystery Evaluator”. Of course there is more to it. These shoppers then become secret agents of what is called “Mystery Customer Research”. 

Now, what exactly is this taboo called Mystery Customer Research? Mystery Customer Research is a simple act of research where everyday people with an eye for detail go shopping, go to a restaurant or take an airplane, while they actually get paid to do this! These “undercover shopaholics” then fill in a questionnaire evaluating the service they had been given. This way they help companies obtain valuable information concerning their own services, enabling them to improve customer satisfaction, and consequently increasing profits.

So what does Mystery Shopping exactly look like?

Tom Johnson goes to a fast-food chain. On his way over, he pays attention to whether there are street signs guiding him to the restaurant he is looking for. Once he gets there:

  • He checks whether the restaurant and its employees are clean and presentable.
  • He also focuses on the time spent queuing.
  • Once he gets to order his meal, Tom observes whether the cashier is friendly and helpful.
  • When he takes his first bite, he must try not to lose himself in the delicious taste of his fast-food hamburger.
  • After he gets home he has to fill in his questionnaire with every single little detail of the visit.

However, Tom is happy to have his burger for free, and the fast-food chain will be pleased as well when the questionnaire is filled in correctly. This scenario will be repeated by many shoppers, in multiple restaurants of the chain, during a period that can vary depending on the desires of the brand in question. The overall evaluation will enable them to look for solutions as how to do better on both general and shop level.

It goes without saying that there is more than mystery shopping alone. Sometimes the evaluator is requested to:

  • Make a phone call
  • Act as future client, or
  • Give feedback to the salesperson after the mystery evaluation is performed.


But the aim of all this will remain the same: to improve customer satisfaction. Either you are a Mystery Evaluator or a normal person with no secret life, I’m sure you would like the extra spending money or getting nice products for free. If you simply want to enjoy the experience as a Mystery Evaluator, then this is your chance to try it out.


Author: AnneloreAnnelore Valencia_edited

Annelore has been an employee of Bare International since September 2011 and is based in the Antwerp Office. She has a Master’s degree in English & Spanish literature & linguistics and a Master’s in Management. She likes discovering new places, traveling, reading and going out with friends to enjoy some very good (Belgian) beers.

Interested in becoming an Evaluator with BARE International?