Mystery Shopping Snapshot: One Picture, Two Lenses


Mystery shopping captures a particular snapshot in time of one person’s experience in your place of business. While it is a great tool to get an idea of what customers experience, especially from an operational standpoint, sometimes doubling up could give you additional insight you didn’t expect.


Recently, a client asked us to send two shoppers into one of their locations on the same day, around the same time. Coordinating schedules, two shoppers visited the same location within the same general time frame.  What happened next was interesting…


Both shoppers were in the restaurant for the majority of their respective visits. One was seated at a table at one end of the restaurant, and the other was seated in a back corner, somewhat out of the way from the “main” dining area.


One of the questions on the report asked if a manager visited the table. The shopper who was seated in the more populated area of the dining room, closer to the kitchen and bar area, was visited by the manager on two occasions during the visit. The other shopper, seated a bit out of the way, was never visited by a manager. In fact, this shopper reported that the manager did visit those tables within close proximity to the kitchen/bar area, but never visited tables on the other half of the dining room.


One visit, two very different experiences. On further exploration, the company learned that this was the manager’s typical methodology, tending to only visit tables that he could visit quickly and get back to his other tasks, leaving a good portion of diners ignored.


While this could have been an isolated case, the double shops revealed some interesting information that the company may not have known. And sometimes it’s good to double up for the mere fact of changing up the mystery shopping schedule – over time, employees will come to realize the shopping schedule, which may impact the performance scoring.


In short, changing up a mystery shopping routine has many benefits, one of which is looking at a snapshot from two different lenses.

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