Mystery shopping

Great customer experience makes you stand out from competitors. Mystery shopping can pinpoint where your staff are succeeding and areas which could be improved.

What exactly does a mystery shopper do?

A mystery shopper poses as a member of the public. They report back on their experience. This includes the knowledge and level of service offered.

Not just staff attitude

We can evaluate more than just your staff. How tidy is the office? Is it easy to access? How long do people have to wait on the telephone or in queues?

Businesses who run mystery shopping

Since 1996 we have carried out successful mystery shopping for organisations in both the public and private sector. They include:

  • Leisure centres
  • Financial services companies
  • Estate agents
  • Police authorities
  • Business service providers

Planning for mystery shopping

We don’t just turn up at a shop or pick up a phone. We need to make sure we replicate the behaviour of your actual customers as closely as possible. To do this, we review how clients typically contact you. How are enquiries made? How are orders placed?

We do this by visiting your outlets and branches. We may also listen to telephone conversations between staff and customers.

Developing scenarios

We’ll discuss everything with you in detail. We’ll then develop circumstances to test out. To make sure we don’t emphasis one type of enquiry too much, we’ll use a range of scenarios.

How are mystery shoppers selected?

We carefully select mystery shoppers whose characteristics match your project’s requirements. We thoroughly brief them for each scenario, using role playing to make sure they can “think on their feet”.

Observations are recorded using a carefully designed, structured and objective scoring system.

Do you record telephone calls?

Yes, telephone calls are usually recorded so we don’t have to rely on memory when assessing the results.

To ensure consistency, all telephone enquiries are marked centrally, using call recordings.

Mystery shoppers use mobile phones. This keeps their true identity secret.

Staff training and development

We record mystery shopping telephone interviews for marking and quality control. However, they can be gold dust when training both new and experienced staff. We often attend or run training sessions around the results.

We find constructive criticism is more readily accepted when it comes from an independent organisation such as ourselves.

Some of PCP’s golden rules of mystery shopping

  • Do not volunteer information unnecessarily. Wait to be asked.
  • Keep options open in the responses given so that staff are allowed the opportunity to offer associated services or products
  • Stick to the truth as far as possible
  • Be consistent in approach and manner for each call or visit made

Next steps

Would you like to chat about how mystery shopping could help your organisation or business? Call us on 0800 6523740, email us at, or fill in our enquiry form.

  • The whole experience was completely painless. PCP didn’t just take the brief from me – they adapted my questionnaire, made some useful comments and were especially insightful with their conclusions. They are big enough to know what they are doing but small enough to give a really good personal service. I would give them 10 out 10. I will continue to use them and have already recommended them to others.

    Chris DavisCEO of Graduate Coach
  • We have commissioned several surveys with PCP in the last few years. PCP are very flexible and able to meet tight deadlines. They always go the extra mile to ensure that we get what we need from each project.

    Alistair Lockhart (Insight Director)Get Savvy, Leeds
  • Working with PCP is a pleasure – they are my ‘go to’ research company. I have worked with them for two years and nothing has ever been too much to ask. Peter in particular is always very helpful and happy to answer numerous questions. He always offers his expertise too so that you feel in safe hands throughout working with them. The whole team are polite, flexible and always happy to help. On many occasions I have given very tight deadlines and PCP has never let me down. I would definitely recommend working with them.

    Emma PrinceConsultant at Claremont Comms
  • We used PCP to collect a large bank of data for a project on charitable giving. From first contact through to delivery the service was reliable, fast and efficient. They clearly have a great understanding of the research process and were able to provide useful insights at every stage of the process. The end result was a high reliable dataset, delivered ahead of schedule, which has already put to good use in various projects.

    Dr David Hart (Principal Lecturer & Programme Director) Newcastle Business School, University of Northumbria

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