Mystery Shopping for Educational Institutions

YouTube player

Mystery Shopping can provide highly valuable feedback to educational institutions in several ways. One of the most common reasons that it is used is to help increase enrolments and occupancy levels.

Mystery Shopping is a unique feedback tool that can help a range of educational institutions, from “prep” (preparatory) schools and other private and independent schools (including boarding schools), to academies, and on to further and higher education colleges and universities.

Interaction types can include online, email, social media and phone enquiries, pre-arranged guided tours, drop-in visits, and of course, open days.

“Customerwise have been consistently supportive, attentive, and flexible with our requirements for mystery shopping in International schools. They’ve been meticulous in ensuring they recruited shoppers appropriate to the local context and culture of our schools. Furthermore, Customerwise endeavoured to advise and suggest developments throughout the process, adapting reporting structures and dashboards; as well as seeking feedback on how they could further support us moving forward. We have been extremely pleased with the level of detail and insight received through the reports generated and look forward to continuing a positive working relationship with Customerwise.”

Charlotte Smith, Orbital Education

How does Mystery Shopping work in Education settings, and what are the potential benefits?

Interactions and reports are normally carried out and prepared by a Mystery Shopper from the perspective of a potential student (or the parent(s) of a potential student or pupil).

Where possible it makes sense to combine multiple stages and different enquiry channels into a single interaction cycle. It normally makes sense for Mystery Shopping activity to reflect typical customer / enquiry journeys.

For example, a mystery shopper might submit an online enquiry and / or make a telephone enquiry, followed by an-in person (or remote – e.g. video chat) tour or consultation, and then be ready to receive (and perhaps engage with) any follow-up contact from the institution.

For best results from any project or programme, all main enquiry channels and touchpoints should be tested. Achieving that will sometimes require more than one journey / process.

It’s usually a good idea to monitor follow-up activity (where applicable), especially after key events like guided tours or open days.

The methods and process that are used should be co-designed with clients so that the feedback is as valuable as possible for them.

The mystery aspect can depend on the details

Of course, it is important to take care of the details. For example, one name, email and phone number (which will always be monitored) might be used to test responses to initial online enquiries which then “go cold”, but then different details (including email and phone number) should be used for later stages of the enquiry so the two enquiries are seen and treated as being completely separate.

(Customerwise is uniquely positioned to take care of details like this)

At the end of each enquiry (or rather each enquiry process), a report is produced which tells the client in detail how each stage / aspect of the enquiry was handled, and what the “shopper’s” perceptions and impressions were, at each stage and overall.

Mystery Shopping services from Customerwise are always finely tailored to client needs and objectives.

Open days Students sitting in an auditorium at a university during an open day

Open days are often valuable events for education clients seeking either feedback, or competitor intelligence.

At further and higher education institutions especially, these events are (or should be) carefully orchestrated, immersive experiences,  designed to engage, inform and inspire would-be students.

The experience that is delivered during open days is often pivotal to students’ applications and their ultimate enrolment decisions . It’s a hugely competitive arena so, understandably, institutions try hard to learn from each other while trying to stay ahead.

In-person tours

On an accompanied tour or visit (whether pre-arranged or unannounced), the Mystery Shopper will be shown around the facilities, and receive relevant and valuable information from their guide. The information that is imparted here, and the impressions that are gathered, can also be pivotal to real-world decisions by real students and /or parents, so feedback / intelligence here is also very valuable.

Schedule a discovery call or call now on 01392 984224.

Why trust us with your Mystery Shopping project or programme?

Customerwise conducted a comprehensive Mystery Shopping study of our admissions processes and enquiry handling standards, across a range of different course subjects and levels, where the processes for each often varied significantly.

We found Customerwise to be great to work with – they were thorough and methodical while also being flexible and adaptable. Most importantly, the output was extremely valuable to us as an organisation in helping to learn where and how we could improve. After the study they also assisted with a training exercise to help the leadership team to engage with the findings and put the lessons into action.   We would highly recommend Customerwise to any educational institution looking to improve their admissions processes and enquiry handling standards.

Russell Williams, Walsall College

Mystery Shopping feedback can be priceless for driving real change and real improvement. But like many things, is has to be done well to be worth doing at all.

Customerwise provides a full range of mystery shopping services (covering all and any enquiry channels), providing fully tailored solutions for educational institutions at all levels in the UK and globally.

Our clients love our attentive service and the quality of our output.


  • Interactions that are both realistic and “on-brief”, from skilled and thoroughly-briefed Mystery Shoppers.
  • We use unique, proprietary technology, techniques and extra steps to ensure our shoppers remain a mystery (even through multi-stage enquiry processes). (contact us for more information)
  • Bespoke reporting: we tailor individual report templates and whole reporting dashboards to ensure clients can see the high-impact information they need as conveniently as possible.
  • We’re flexible, responsive and proactive. We’re easy and rewarding to work with.

We focus heavily on the realism of interactions (taking care of all the little details through the whole enquiry process), so that the feedback our clients gain is accurate, reliable and actionable. Reliable feedback is essential for creating real and sustained improvement.

Contact us to learn about our experience and for case studies and relevant testimonials.

Highly detailed, accurate, and actionable reports

As with all of our services, our reports are co-designed collaboratively with clients and they are invited to have as much input as they wish.

Reports (along with the process that’s followed by Mystery Shoppers) should take in and allow for all key stages and all the aspects of the client’s proposition.

This normally includes the educational offer itself (curriculum and standards of achievement), upkeep and cleanliness of facilities and grounds, extra-curricular activities, any notable behaviour witnessed on site by pupils, students or staff that may (be seen to) relate to discipline or morale.

A skilled Mystery Shopper will be a convincing parent of a potential pupil or student of the institution in question, and will be prepared with a viable and realistic “scenario”.  They will ask intelligent questions, register the responses provided, and will share valuable observations.

Competitor Mystery Shopping for Educational Institutions

Glasses giving a clearer view of the competitive environment

Educational Institutions are often very keen to learn about their direct competitors. Often, clients want to learn about how competing institutions compare to them through the eyes of potential students (or their parents).

This can include less tangible areas (e.g. general impressions) as well as overall standards, and specific details (e.g. of how enquiries are handled; of the ways that other institutions describe, present and “sell” themselves, etc.). Clients often also want specific pieces of information that may not be published on the institution’s website.

Often, a number of competitors will be included (in addition to the client) within a comparative study that looks at all institutions across key areas (reflected in scored sections within the individual enquiry reports).

At the end of the study, individual reports are delivered to clients along with an executive report, which explores and highlights the key findings, lessons and potential action points. These studies ensure that the client is equipped with powerful and up-to-date insights to help them to compete more effectively.

If you would like to discuss the possibility of Mystery Shopping for an educational institution, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Schedule a discovery call or call now on 01392 984224.