We all try to save money wherever we can. The problem is when we just go for the cheapest option and only get part of the story.

A dangerous new trend is to sacrifice Mystery Shopping for Net Promoter Scores. They do different things, and like apples and oranges, they are different but must live in the same fruit bowl.

Customer Insights

Net Promoter Scores (NPS) is a simple, cheap way to measure the Voice of the Customer (VOC). But just as Adam and Eve couldn’t resist the temptation of the juicy apple on the tree, nor should NPS be seen as the solution to everything.

NPS can tell you about customer sentiment and provide some wonderful real-life feedback from real customers. What could go wrong with getting customer insights?

Dave Griffin, our Head of VOC has built a implementing NPS. Dave sees it like this:

“Over the past decade I’ve seen too many NPS programs fail because clients overreached conclusions, or were drowned in unusable data. Both outcomes are possible but can avoided with good design and use of complimentary tools such as Mystery Shopping” 

NPS gives you a lot of data, but that data is limited (only one or two questions). So it can’t pinpoint operational problems, and it doesn’t inform you how to fix the problem. You need some operational insight.

Operational insights

The strength of Mystery Shopping is that it is deep, though you get fewer data. Mystery Shopping can tell you exactly what’s happening through the whole customer experience. It’s a great diagnostic tool by showing you exactly what to fix. e.g. staff are unpacking boxes and not serving customers.

Mystery Shopping can also measure things which are not important to the customer, but strategically important to the company. For example, a customer will not mark down your NPS score if your staff didn’t upsell a belt when selling trousers, but strategically this could be a core aspect of the store’s profitability.

Mystery Shopping is also strong in measuring asynchronous activities.

Synchronous – If the staff member is polite, you mark them positively, if they are rude, you mark them negatively.

Asynchronous – If you are offered a business class upgrade you mark the experience positively, but if you don’t receive the business class upgrade you don’t mark the experience negatively. Similarly, if you are upsold a probiotic to settle your belly when filling an antibiotic script, you rate the experience highly, but not negatively if there is no upsell. It’s the same for the upsell of a belt when you are buying pants.

Have your cake and eat it

Combine your operational and consumer insights by doing both.

Case Study 1 – Gym membership – a complete picture.

A gym franchise is concerned about sales and retention (like everyone). They are concerned about the sales conversion rates and concerned that customers are leaving more than they’d like.


Use Mystery Shopping to measure the phone sales process and the first visit/tour. Focus on whether staff are:

Use NPS to measure the existing customer experience to plug retention.

What themes are emerging from the customer comments on negative scores? e.g. dirty, packed, uninterested staff.

Case Study 2- Homewares store – save budget

A homewares company had a budget of $4,000.00 per month for Mystery Shopping. But they wanted to shave costs and were concerned that Mystery Shopping didn’t tell the whole picture.

We advised them not to sacrifice all the Mystery Shopping budget for NPS. A lower targeted Mystery Shop program with lower volumes AND NPS was implemented for $3,000.00 per month, saving 25% of budget. Contact me if you want to know how. (Hint – we target the Mystery Shops based on locations with low NPS scores)

NPS and Mystery Shopping are as different as apples and oranges, but they can mix well together in a nice salad.