A short guide to secret shopping for beginners


Market research brings the perspective of potential customers to use in strategic decision-making. Knowing the preference and expectation of customers help design a customer-centric culture to achieve success. Secret shopping is a popular method of consumer research that allows businesses to evaluate customer service and operations. Implementing this study is not easy. Experienced professionals are essential to execute and acquire the desired outcome from this program. 

What is Secret Shopping?

Want to know what is secret shopping? It is a method of testing the quality of customer service, products, employee performance, and operations. Test shoppers conduct this program disguised as regular customers. During the visit, secret shoppers observe various aspects of the store to get an accurate picture of the business. The primary goal of this program is to improve customer service and operations necessary for the success of your business. This is possible by utilizing the actionable insights delivered by evaluators to drive continuous improvement. 

How secret shopping is conducted? 

Secret shoppers utilize various methods to conduct this program, such as in-person, over the telephone, and online. Some businesses need multichannel assessment to get a clear picture of your business. Let us see the different types of secret shopping programs: 

In-Person – This is common in industries such as retail and restaurant. Secret shoppers visit the store to interact with employees and examine different aspects of the business. This method helps evaluators to tell how it is performing from a customer perspective. 

Telephone – This method is utilized in call centers and businesses where call is an integral part of the customer experience. Telecommunication companies use this method to measure and evaluate their operations. 

Hybrid – This method involves secret shoppers to evaluate the whole sales journey. The hybrid method is a popular method for improving customer experience. It is useful to measure all aspects of the customer experience, from check-in to check-out in your business. 

Top benefits of this study 

Many benefits are associated with conducting this program regularly. Let us look at the primary benefit of this research: 

Research the market and evaluate customers 

Find out the targeted customers’ preferences and expectations 

Evaluate the staff performance 

Gather feedback and identify issues 

Get an impartial perspective of your customers 

Analyze how employees are responding to SOPs and brand promises on the floor 

Evaluate new products and services with the help of experts 

This is an important customer experience research that helps to improve customer satisfaction. The long-term success of your business depends upon this factor. So, this research helps in developing a customer-centric culture in your organization. 

How Does Secret Shopping Work?

A successful audit requires proper planning and execution of all essential steps. Companies must know how does secret shopping work and how to execute the program to be successful. Let us look at the steps that you need to follow for a successful program: 

Determine your objective 

Having a clear objective is the first step toward designing a successful program. Determine what you want to assess in this research, from identifying issues to employees’ performance. Once you know what you want to achieve in the research, it becomes easy to define customer satisfaction criteria. This will help tailor the program’s checklists and questionnaires to assess during the visit. Lastly, you can train and instruct test shoppers to adhere to guidelines to get the desired results. 

Make the data reliable and trustworthy 

The research enables businesses to gather data and feedback from third-party sources. The traditional pen-and-paper method is often prone to human errors. Embrace technology to make data compiling fast, seamless, and reliable for your organization. 

Hire trained auditors 

Secret shoppers play a significant role in the success of this program. Hire trained auditors to carry out this program fast and in total anonymity to get the desired outcome. Professional auditors are essential to maintain the quality and effectiveness of this study. 

Final Thoughts 

Listening to customer’s demands and perspectives is crucial to stay relevant in the competitive market. Secret shopping is a critical tool that brings invaluable insights into your business operations and customer service situations. It also highlights issues to resolve and trends that help to take corrective measures. Embrace this study to stay ahead of the competition.

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