GWR Consulting

White Paper: Enhancing Your Business: The Case for External Mystery Shopping Programs


Mystery shopping has long been an essential tool for businesses, particularly in the service industry, to evaluate and improve customer experience. As a business owner with 5 to 20 outlets or more, you might have used an internal mystery shopping program to assess and maintain the quality of service offered to your customers. Below we will explore why it is time to consider substituting your internal program with an external one supported by reputable sources from the Harvard Business Review (HBR) literature.

Executive Summary:

Switching from an internal mystery shopping program to an external one can provide your business with greater objectivity, cost-effectiveness, scalability, and specialized expertise. These factors together can help you identify and address areas for improvement in your customer experience, ensuring that your business stays competitive and profitable.

Key Points:

Objectivity: An external mystery shopping provider ensures unbiased and accurate feedback on your customer experience (Gupta & Zeithaml, 2019). Internal programs may suffer from familiarity bias, where shoppers are more lenient due to personal connections or fear of retribution. Outsourcing the program eliminates this risk and ensures a fresh perspective on your business.

Cost-effectiveness: Outsourcing your mystery shopping program can be more cost-effective than running it in-house (HBR, 2016). External providers have specialized tools and resources, which can reduce the time and cost associated with training, managing, and analyzing the results of your mystery shopping initiatives.

Scalability: External mystery shopping providers have the capacity to scale their services according to your needs (HBR, 2018). As your business grows and expands, they can efficiently adjust the program to cover more locations and provide consistent evaluation across all outlets.

Specialized Expertise: External providers are experts in mystery shopping, with extensive knowledge of best practices and industry benchmarks (Meyer & Schwager, 2007). They can provide actionable insights and recommendations to help your business excel in customer experience.

Access to Industry Trends and Innovations: External providers constantly update their methods and tools to stay abreast of industry trends and innovations (HBR, 2020). By partnering with an external provider, you can leverage their knowledge and resources to stay ahead of the competition.


As a business leader, customer experience should be a top priority for your business. By substituting your internal mystery shopping program with an external provider, you can benefit from greater objectivity, cost-effectiveness, scalability, specialized expertise, and access to industry trends and innovations. Outsourcing your mystery shopping needs will help you identify areas for improvement and ensure that your business remains competitive and profitable in the ever-evolving world of customer service.


Gupta, S., & Zeithaml, V. (2019). Customer Metrics and Their Impact on Financial Performance. Harvard Business Review.

HBR. (2016). Outsourcing Can Do Much More Than Just Cut Costs. Harvard Business Review.

HBR. (2018). A Scalable Approach to Customer Satisfaction. Harvard Business Review.

HBR. (2020). The Future of Customer Experience. Harvard Business Review.

Meyer, C., & Schwager, A. (2007). Understanding Customer Experience. Harvard Business Review.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.