Why Mystery Shopping Isn’t The Best Way To Review Outsourced Services?


Update: 26.4.2019

We have just recently finished a mystery shopping review of the new online training course by Tony Robbins and Dean Graziosi called Knowledge Business Blueprint. The course is about how to leverage your knowledge by organising private and group masterminds. If you want to get the detailed review of the Knowledge Business Blueprint course and the mystery shoping results visit our review page.

GfK Mystery Shopping has access to over 50,000 shoppers, built to be representative of the U.S. adult population. Profile information on each shopper is collected and used to select the most suitable individual for each survey. A record of each shopper’s assignments is stored in our database to allow our allocation system to rotate shoppers according to the suggested specification. More on the latest findings of the GFK Mystery shopping team on our review page.

Shopper Recruitment, Training and Support

GfK Mystery Shopping system employs a number of training and monitoring procedures that allow us to offer the highest quality shoppers who review different eCommerce shops, affiliate training courses, Amazon products and search engine optimization services for our customers:

Initial Screening

All applicants are screened for suitability.

General Training
All shoppers go through a comprehensive on-line training program, covering the basics of mystery shopping and shopper integrity. Once complete, the applicant must score 100% on a test before being considered for shops.

Shoppers are selected for each shop, training course, Amazon listing and search engine marketing business based on their profile, shop history and proximity to shop. We believe that using ‘local’and online shopppers is key to ensuring credible and reliable shops.

Scenario Specific Training
GfK Mystery Shopping trains each shopper on each scenario at the point of the shop assignment. This means that shoppers receive focused training materials in a timely fashion—as always a 100% score is required before a shopper can complete the shop.If a shopper conducts 3 different shops for one client they may receive 3 different training programs—each designed to prepare the shopper for the specific scenario they are undertaking.

GfK Mystery Shopping offers both a “helpmail” and “helpline” system for shoppers, if they have a problem they can always contact someone.

Once they have undertaken a shop, training course, Amazon listing or search engine marketing business and returned their questionnaire, mystery shoppers are rated on each questionnaire, based on accuracy and completeness of the information provided. Regular feedback is provided to shoppers on the quality of their work and on specific areas in which they need to improve.

How Mystert Shoppers Get Trained On-line?

We have extensive experience and skills in this area and our shoppers are familiar with on-line training. While most of our training consists of approximately 15-20 pages and takes about 20 minutes, our longest is more than 50 pages and takes over one hour to complete.

Some of the advantages of on-line training are:

All shoppers go through exactly the same training program.
Specific training sessions are developed for each client.
Using the Internet the training can be interactive, using both text and visuals.

Shoppers can receive ‘alert e-mails’ if requirements change and can be asked to take refresher courses each time they do a shop.


There is no additional cost associated with developing an on-line training course.

GfK Mystery Shopping will occasionally conduct briefings by telephone and/or in person.

The Cybershop Platform

Cybershop is the Web based technology platform on which GfK’s Mystery Shopping operation is based. Cybershop was developed internally by GfK Mystery Shopping specifically for the purpose of delivering the highest quality Mystery Shopping in the industry. Harnessing the efficiencies available through Cybershop allows GfK to concentrate on delivering our client’s programs on time and to specification, as well as spending more time analyzing the results to provide greater insights into the reviewed courses, eCommerce shops, Amazon listings and search engine marketing businesses.

CyberShop offers, speed, accuracy, convenience and cost-effectiveness. It is a comprehensive system that helps manage our relationship with our shoppers (Web based), including recruitment, training, testing and reporting of results . It also includes our internal data management that allows us to efficiently assign shops , ensure that we follow rotation requirements, and find the most qualified shopper that meets necessary criteria for each shop. Cybershop allows GfK Mystery Shopping to be flexible in our study design to allow for changes to the program to be made quickly and easily as the needs of our clients change.

Most importantly, it is the backbone for our Web based data delivery system, a proprietary system which we believe is without parallel in meeting our clients needs and offering user friendly access to meaningful information.

Cybershop encompasses:

Shoppers have access to a personalized homepage 24/7 where they can view all work available to them. They can view maps, read briefing notes and time requirements for each shop.
As mentioned, the shopper goes through a scenario specific training program for each shop(s).
The shopper downloads a personalized questionnaire, with details on the store, scenario and any shop specific instructions.
Data Entry

Shoppers enter their results on-line into an intuitive data entry system with built in help options. Key strokes are kept to a minimum and routing ensures that all questions are answered.

Logic checks

Full logic checks are built into the data entry system, including data consistency, checks against the store database, and that all questions and required comments have been completed.

Spell checks

Finally, all comments are spell checked before results are submitted.

Quality Assurance

GfK Mystery Shopping understands the importance of shopper integrity and data integrity. We believe in rigorous and extensive Quality Controls, which include:

  • Shopper Orientation and Training – We believe that our shopper training is without peer and as such enables GfK to deliver higher quality, more consistent and accurate results.
  • Automated Data Checking – The data entry questionnaire contains data checking and skip logic to further ensure data integrity. When entered, data is validated three ways:
  1. Within the question itself. For example, if a shopper answers that it took 4 seconds to complete the shop, the system will not accept the answer without a valid explanation.
  2. Within the questionnaire. If a shopper reports that the employee was not wearing a name tag, and later reports that the employee’s name was Bill, the system will require an explanation as to how the shopper knows the employee’s name if there was indeed no name tag.
  3. Against your location database. To take an example from a petroleum client, a location may be identified as not having a Car Wash in our client database. If, through the course of the year, the location undergoes construction and builds a Car Wash, the shopper will report this. When the shop is reported, the shopper will be thoroughly probed regarding the presence of the Car Wash, because it does not match our records. If the shopper confirms that there was indeed a Car Wash, the information will be accepted, and our editors will see a note on the draft of that report to investigate. The investigation will involve confirming this information with the proper client representative.
  • Data Comparison – We continuously compare individual shopper results against norms for the program.
  • Quality Assurance Editors – Our staff of Quality Assurance editors are trained to review each shop report after the information has been recorded. All reports are reviewed before receiving final approval to be published.
  • Commitment to Quality – GfK Mystery Shopping is a founding member of the MSPA and complies with their rules of ethical behavior.



GfK Mystery Shopping recognizes the vast amount of information that our clients are confronted with every day, and we help avoid information overload. We enable you to concentrate on monitoring only those behaviors that are the key drivers to improving your service delivery performance. Our custom reporting systems are designed to meet the unique needs of management in 3 areas:

Front-line Staff
Highly graphic ‘user-friendly’ reporting, clearly identifying key areas for improvement in an easy to digest format.
Field Management

Fast, custom-built on-line reporting system designed to provide a full understanding of comparative results in “real time”, at the touch of a button, across all levels of your hierarchy.

Corporate Management

For the Executive team—insight, a nalysis and recommendations in the form of executive summaries and PowerPoint presentations and analysis. We also offer a powerful management decision-making tool, MShop+, our proprietary model for integrating Mystery Shopping data with other data streams including customer satisfaction results.

Store Reports—front line staff
Each store is sent a detailed, highly graphic report in color, allowing the results to be displayed in the store, and allowing a user to quickly understand the findings and implications of each shop. This report will contain information about the shop assignment, including areas of strengths and weaknesses, together with targeted actions and comparisons to their performance in previous waves. The target audience for this report is the store manager who would then disseminate to their team.

The shop report is often available on a password protected Web site, or can be sent via e-mail.

Every program has a unique set of requirements and GfK Mystery Shopping works with each of our clients to design a custom report that will be most effective for them. The following pages contain some examples of what we can do for you. The first page of the shop will often provide an overview of the assignment, including the visit details, the scenario and the overall performance on each of the key measurement areas. This is done in a graphic format. While the report below shows GfK Mystery Shopping, the graphics used are custom designed for each client.

The store’s results are often compared to the results of other stores in the local district or region and perhaps nationally. In a similar way, results can be compared to previous waves. Highlights of the positive and negative results of the shop are also often shared, along with a space for the store to create an action plan. Of course, the result details of the entire shop are also included in each report.

Quality Assurance Editors

GfK Quality Assurance editors are trained to review each shop report after the shopper has entered the information. All reports are reviewed before receiving final approval to be published. The editors review each report for accuracy and completeness, for proper grammar, and investigate anything that requires further explanation.

While timeliness of the reporting is critical, it is also extremely important to send out a report that is accurate and complete. Our editors operate under one overriding instruction—”if it’s not 100% correct, don’t send it!”

Field Management and Corporate Reports

GfK typically recommends delivering all results on a secure, password protected web site. The aim is to create a web site to drive service delivery improvement within your organization. While the results of the mystery shopping form an integral part of the site, a successful system will also include or have links to all the information staff require to improve their performance.

Regional Managers have access to each of the individual reports above, but will also have access to customized, dynamic summary reports that will help identify ‘big picture’ issues more readily.

Each Manager can log into the Web site and access a report summarizing the performance of each of their stores, compared to their region and perhaps national results. Areas of weakness and how to improve them are highlighted, along with positive achievements. These reports include cumulative store scores, actions, benchmarking against division and regional ranking.

A reporting web site can add value to reporting at all levels. For this reason GfK suggests, wherever possible, letting all staff involved in the program have access to on-line reporting, from Corporate Office staff through regional management to store management, if possible.

The ability to view results on-line can take many forms. In its simplest form it can act as an efficient way to disseminate information. We have the ability to allow corporate staff to view store reports and approve them for e-mail distribution.

Reporting web sites are fully branded for each client, and are often incorporated into their company Intranet. Examples of some of what can be delivered are on the following pages.

Home Page
The home page allows quick access to various levels of reporting, as well as containing information about the program. Descriptions of the methodology, access to the questionnaires, which to contact, FAQ’s, and other information can all be accessed from this page.

Project Status
Project Status provides management with an overview of the progress of each wave in the field.

Provides the user with a Ranking of location at various levels of hierarchy (e.g., store level, divisional, regional). Locations can be sorted by levels of hierarchy, time periods, or questionnaire sections.

Tabulation Reports
Tabulation reports allow managers to quickly compare questionnaire results, down to the question level, across levels of hierarchy.

Trending reports
Trending reports allow managers to quickly review the progress at any level of hierarchy over time, against comparable results for other levels of hierarchy. For example, a local district manager can see how her district has done over the past six shops, and compare that trend against the region her district belongs to as well as national results.

Summary Reports
Summary reports provide a comparison of all results within a particular time period at a given level of hierarchy. The screen below shows the results for all stores in a District for a recent wave of shops, including the score for the District as a whole.

Verbatims or Narrative
This tool is available to view any open-end comments that are gathered during a shop. They can be viewed by question and, like all other reports, can be filtered by time period and level of hierarchy.

Additional Web Features

One way of ensuring that results will be acted upon is to build action planning into the web site. This can prompt store managers to produce an electronic action plan for any area where they have not achieved an acceptable standard. These action plans can then be viewed and signed off by the store’s area manager. Managing this system on-line allows for e-mail tracking of actions and exceptions reporting to named contacts, if actions are not being followed up.

Other features can include an on-line appeals procedure, detailed analysis of results, web chats with key individuals involved in the program and chat rooms where staff can share information. Executive summaries and presentations can also be made available through the site.

There is no limit to how far a website can expand. By adding new features on an ongoing basis, staff will be encouraged to keep coming back and using the system.

Ad hoc Data Requests
GfK Mystery Shopping’s data management systems allow for easy and efficient access to live results, so most requests can be handled quickly and without incurring additional costs.

Areas Of Work For Mystery Shoppers

The GFK mystery shopping team works in different areas. They are better known to deliver relevant results in: affiliate marketing, eCommerce, Amazon shops and search engine marketing (SEM) services.

The team works on and offline. When it come to reviewing an online courses most of the shoppers finish their work online, but if the customer wants us to test a specific course offline as well we have no hasitation. Our team does not publish any online comments or reviews before our customer does not see our results. The team also does a lot of reviews on their own an published beta testing results and insights of the most popular courses on the web. The reason behind that is that GFK want’s to detect and warn people of online scams.

The team has just recently reviewed:

For more information on GfK Mystery Shopping services, contact us.


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