Mystery Shopping

Identify, Measure & Motivate the Behaviors that Matter Most

Kinēsis employs a purchase intent and loyalty based approach to mystery shop program design. Our unique approach allows our clients to identify and reinforce sales and service behaviors that matter most – those which drive purchase intent and loyalty. As a result, our clients can focus training, coaching, incentives, and other motivational tools directly on the elements of the customer experience that matter the most – those which will produce the largest return on investment.

Mystery Shopping Best Practices from Kinesis CEM, LLC

Mystery Shopping Objectives

Managers of sales and service brands need answers to challenging research questions. When clients need to know specific information about their service delivery, Kinēsis provides answers. How many of the following research needs relate to your situation?


When Our Clients Want to Know…

Kinēsis Helps Them…

How well do our employees meet our service standards? Align shopping programs with company service standards.
How well do our standards meet the service expectations of our customers? Align company standards with customer expectations.
How can we coach or motivate employees to meet service standards? Align employees with service standards.
How have customers’ experiences with our company’s service changed over time? Track improvement and maintain a consistent customer experience over time.
How does customers’ experience with retail service influence their intention to make a purchase? Identify service standards and behaviors that will drive purchase behaviors and maximize ROI of the customer experience.

Use the customer experience as a driver of profitability.
What causes our customers to have positive or negative shopping experiences? Obtain actionable information to improve the customer experience.
How well does our customer service compare to that of competitors throughout our industry? Benchmark their customer service against the competition.
Which employees and sales operations provide the best service? Generate the most revenue? Identify leaders or role models within their service organization.

Make strategic decisions about resource allocation.
Would these employees and operations be effective role models? How would we know? Position top performers as role models and use their experience throughout the organization.
What combination of training, compensation, or other investment results in the largest increases in per-employee revenue? Manage the customer experience from a global context to maximize ROI.


You probably noticed that each question is answered not by data, but by a business process which can be improved. We work with clients to identify research objectives most important to their brand, and provide a roadmap to achieve those objectives.


Types of Shops

Before discussing how we provide this road map, it is instructive to consider how brands use mystery shopping. Just about any channel in the brand-customer interface can be shopped at any point in the customer journey. Some of the types of shops include:

Mystery Shopping Best Practice: In-Person Shops.

In Person:

While distribution channels shift to more self-administered on-line channels, in many industries the in-person channel continues to be the embodiment of the brand – central to a multichannel strategy. This role will put new pressures on store personnel as brand advocates. In-person mystery shopping evaluates and motivates sales and service behaviors as part of this role.

Mystery Shopping Best Practice: Contact Center Shops.

Contact Center:

Contact center mystery shopping provides managers a unique opportunity to evaluate the customer experience using predetermined scenarios. Most contact centers employ call monitoring to evaluate agent performance. Best in class mystery shopping programs augment call monitoring by giving managers a tool to present specific scenarios to agents to test their performance.

Mystery Shopping Best Practice: Internal Shops.

Internal Shops:

Internal shops evaluate service provided to internal customers to identify internal bottlenecks which may hinder the ability to provide optimal customer service.

Mystery Shopping Best Practice: Web/Mobile Shops.

Web/Mobile Shops:

Across many industries, self-administered channels are increasingly becoming key to opening and deepening the customer relationship. Mystery shopping website and mobile channels provide managers tools to test ease of use, navigation and the overall customer experience of online and mobile channels.

Mystery Shopping Best Practice: Life Cycle Shops.

Life Cycle Shops:

Life cycle mystery shops are designed to evaluate the customer experience through the entire customer journey across a variety of delivery channels, and a spectrum of transactions, over an extended period of time.

Mystery Shopping Best Practice: Competitive Shops.

Competitive Shops:

Shopping competitors allows customer experience managers to benchmark their brand-customer interface relative to their competitors.


Program Design

Kinēsis works jointly with each client to design a questionnaire which will best meets their needs.

Typically, questionnaire design includes observations of objective behaviors, subjective impressions and comments, each serving a specific purpose in indentifying specific employee behaviors which drive profitability. Together, these three elements of questionnaire design reveal the “what”, “how” and “why” of the customer experience.

Mystery Shopping Best Practice Questionnaire Design: What.

Objective Behaviors:

Observations of objective behaviors form the backbone of Kinēsis’ mystery shop methodology. These observations identify what specific sales and service behaviors were observed. Mystery shopping is primarily an observational form of research, and as such, a best practice is to focus on objective observations of specific behaviors. These observations serve two purposes. First, they measure and motivate expected sales and service behaviors. Second, they serve as a foundation for Kinēsis’ Purchase Intent and Loyalty Analysis methodology, which in conjunction with the following subjective elements of the study design, determine the relationship between specific behaviors and purchase intent.


Mystery Shopping Best Practice Questionnaire Design: How.

Subjective Impressions:

Subjective impressions are primarily captured through scientifically designed and strategically selected rating scales. These questions tell us how the shopper felt about the experience. They add both quantitative and qualitative perspective to the objective behaviors observed and provide a basis for interpretation of not only individual shops, but provide the analytical means to determine the relationship between each service behavior and purchase intent and loyalty.


Mystery Shopping Best Practice Questionnaire Design: Why.

Subjective Comments:

Beyond measuring what behaviors were observed and how the shopper felt about the experience, open-ended comments are used to capture why shoppers felt the way they did about the experience. While objective behaviors are the backbone of the shop, many of our clients consider these comments the heart of the shop; they provide a qualitative texture to understand specifically what the shopper felt about the experience. They not only serve as a framework for understanding each shop individually, but provide input into Kinēsis’ content analysis methodology to determine key qualitative drivers of purchase intent.


Together, these three design elements provide input into Kinēsis’ proprietary key driver purchase intent and loyalty analysis technique to identify key sales and service drivers of purchase intent and loyalty.


Purchase Intent & Loyalty Based Analysis

Research without a call to action may be informative, but not very useful. Kinēsis builds call to action elements into our research design, which provide a road map for clients to maximize the ROI on customer experience measurement.

Kinēsis’ approach to mystery shopping is designed to identify key sales and service behaviors with a desired customer experience outcome. This Key Driver Analysis determines the relationship between specific behaviors and a desired outcome. For most clients the desired outcomes are purchase intent and loyalty. As a result, our approach helps clients identify and reinforce sales and service behaviors which drive intent to either enter into, or maintain, a relationship with a brand.

Mystery ShoppingBest Practice: Key Driver Analysis.

Building on the types of observations described above, the “what”, “how” and “why” of the customer experience, let’s examine how our proprietary purchase intent and loyalty based analysis identifies which behaviors matter most – which behaviors drive purchase intent or loyalty.


Mystery Shopping Best Practice Questionnaire Design: How.

Shoppers are asked if they had been an actual customer, how the experience with the brand influenced their purchase intent or decision to maintain a relationship with the brand. Using this question, Kinēsis cross-tabulates positive and negative purchase intent to determine how the responses of mystery shoppers who reported a positive influence on purchase intent vary from those who reported a negative influence. This yields a means of ranking the importance of each behavior by the strength of its relationship to purchase intent.


Mystery Shopping Best Practice Questionnaire Design: Why.

In addition, paired with this rating is a follow-up question asking why the shopper rated their purchase intent as they did. The responses to this question are grouped and classified into similar themes, and cross-tabulated by the purchase intent rating described above. The result of this analysis will be a determination of what sales and service practices drive purchase intent.


Mystery Shopping Best Practice Questionnaire Design: What.

The final step in the analysis is identifying which behaviors have the highest potential for ROI in terms of driving purchase intent. This is achieved by comparing the importance of each behavior (as defined above) and its performance (the frequency in which it is observed). Mapping this comparison in a quadrant chart like the one below provides a means for identifying behaviors with relatively high importance and low performance, which will yield the highest potential for return on investment.



This analysis produces a road map from which to focus training, coaching, incentives, and other motivational tools directly on the elements of the customer experience that will produce the largest return on investment. Our analytical methods confirm whether your mystery shop program is aligned with customer expectations and measures the elements most important to the customer experience.


“You can expect what you inspect.”


This management philosophy is as true today as it was 50 years ago when W. Edwards Deming coined it. Managers of the customer experience have several tools available to them to inspect or monitor the customer experience. However, when it comes to monitoring employee behaviors - service and sales behaviors that drive customer experience success - no tool is better suited for that objective than mystery shopping.