Mystery Audits

Mystery Shopping – What We Look For

By November 30, 2018February 1st, 2021No Comments

In my last article Could A Mystery Audit Improve Your Customer Service? I talked about the benefits of using Mystery Shopping to gain unbiased and structured feedback on the customer experience your business is delivering.

This article is to give you a little more detail on the areas our mystery shoppers assess and the reasons why. It’s important to note that all of our reports are bespoke and tailored to your specific needs, these are just some popular examples.

The first step is to establish our client’s needs and end goals to ensure that the right report is created for them. In order to do that we need to understand their overall customer journey, therefore on occasion we have provided them with trial shops using our trained mystery shoppers, this gives us and them some very detailed insight so we can correctly advise on the best set of questions going forward.

Exterior / Entrance a good place to start!

The first impressions of your business are crucial regardless of the industry you are in. Have you ever turned up to a location and there are people smoking outside and leaving their cigarette butts on the floor? Or all the lighting is off and it looks closed? Not ideal is it. Therefore, we look for cleanliness such as litter and debris on the ground, the quality of your signage, the parking facilities, and the lighting (depending on time of day of course!)

Environment and Interiors

When a customer enters your business they expect a certain level of standards. For example, how many times have you tried on clothes in a retailer and the changing room is full of dust, the mirror is dirty or the curtain doesn’t shut properly? Maybe there are posters on the walls but they are worn and out of date? Cleanliness, lighting, temperature, music, and promotional material are all key to their perception of you – all areas we would comment on.

Meet and Greet

How many times have you entered a shop, restaurant or solicitors and not been given a genuine greeting. Let’s just be clear though, I do not encourage any business to go back to the 1990s where we had a staff member stood at the entrance saying hello to every single person that walked in, but what I do encourage is that if a staff member has the opportunity to say hello to your customers then they should do this, and they should do so with eye contact and a smile at the very least. This area can have a huge impact on how your customer feels about you and whether or not they will spend their money.

Establish needs and recommendations through Mystery Shopping

Do you ask questions and listen to what your customer is actually telling you? This is something nearly every industry I have worked with fails to get right. You are not there to sell/provide the customer with what you want, you are there to recommend something that they want and need. The trust you can build up with someone if you get this right is priceless!

Think of it like this, you have two staff members: one member of staff has his individual sales target at the front of his mind and the other has the customer at the front of his.

Staff member 1 pushes the customer into buying something they didn’t really need. Customer goes home, reflects, potentially complains and also tells their friends and colleagues what has happened. Those friends and colleagues avoid this business like the plague and continue to spread this negative customer experience around.

Staff member 2 doesn’t get a sale because both he or she and the customer doesn’t think what they have to offer is right on this occasion. Customer appreciates the help and honestly of the staff member and suddenly trust is established. The same customer goes home, reflects, and tells all their friends and colleagues what a great customer experience they’ve just had with staff member 2 – they must really put their customers first! Friends and colleagues spread this around and visit the business for their own purchasing needs, and the same customer also returns when they do have what they need.

And yes, I can hear you all now saying ‘it’s not that simple’ of course it isn’t, but you get where I’m coming from.

Building rapport

For those of you who have worked with me in the past you know this is one of my obsessions.

Do people even understand what this even means? What it certainly does not mean is you do the bare minimum when interacting with a customer, such as being polite. That is not building rapport, we should not be getting a pat on the back for being nice and professional to other human beings – this should be standard!

Building rapport is going over and above the normal conversation, and yes you can make a comment on the weather if it’s remotely interesting and you think the customer might be interested!

If a customer is buying anything from you, they are buying it for a reason – so what is that reason? If you have established their needs correctly then you already know so it should be so easy for you to make it personal. Take an interest and listen. I can’t tell you how many calls I have audited where the customer is practically begging the staff member to engage in a conversation.

Not everyone wants to chat and be personal, but the least we can do is try. And when you have established they don’t want you to take an interest, then stop. You are still building a rapport by taking note of their manner and respecting it.

Farewell do I need to explain this?

I would actually be a bit scared to add up every time I interacted with someone last week and spent money in their business, and they didn’t even thank me and say goodbye. The supermarket, a petrol station, a retailer, a public house.

Having mystery shoppers go into your locations and assessing areas such as these can give you so much insight into what is happening in your business, and using a company like mine to help you manage it can only benefit you. We all think we know what our customer experience is like but we don’t actually know, unless we have the luxury of being there 24/7. Using mystery shopping gives you a snapshot into your customer engagement that can have huge benefits to your business.

When you need a team to design a bespoke programme that gains a deeper insight into what drives your customers, contact us here or call Xperior today on 0333 987 4335 or email us at

About the author

Emma Carmody is Managing Director of Xperior Ltd. With over 18 years’ experience in management across different sectors, Emma takes a proactive approach to customer service, using data and analysis to shape bespoke customer service programmes.