Video Mystery Shopping

Video Mystery Shopping has become an increasingly popular tool for over the last decade or so, especially for businesses in B2C industries, including retail, automotive, financial services, leisure and property.

It's easy to see why. Video Mystery Shopping helps businesses to understand (with greater clarity, detail and certainty), what is happening "on the ground".

This page contains some introductory information about Video Mystery Shopping. If you prefer to talk rather than read, just give us a call on 01392 984224, email us using or book in an initial exploratory call.


Video Mystery Shopping Equipment


Availability and affordability of reliable equipment and technology

In recent years the equipment and technology that makes Video Mystery Shopping practical has become much more available and affordable. This includes the industry-standard covert video recording equipment itself (costing as little as £500 for a complete kit) and even the cost of high-capacity memory cards and secure cloud storage.

Benefits and Demand

On the demand side, the advantages to businesses are very clear.

Having a customer experience and staff interaction filmed and "on the record" clearly takes away any doubt (and any argument) about what did or did not take place.

It also provides levels of detail about interactions that cannot be obtained any other way. Video recording helps businesses to understand some of the more subtle nuances of each interaction with a staff member (body language, tone of voice, facial expressions, etc.).

Feedback that is filmed is clearly “richer” than a written description. Even compared to the most in-depth written report from the most skilled mystery shopper, a recording is always going to contain more details and be ultimately more reliable as a factual account.

Video Mystery Shopping footage allows owners and managers to literally “see” the standard of service being delivered to customers / potential customers, and the real attitude of staff.

It can also help them to identify whether appropriate sales opportunities are being consistently pursued and effectively converted (to make improvements there too), and to understand the levels of operational efficiency (including any bottle necks and sticking points).

Business Outcomes and ROI

Video Mystery Shopping in itself only provides businesses with information. Of course, information must be acted on to produce changes or improvements. But provided that appropriate action is taken, the returns from Video Mystery Shopping can dwarf the modest investment, and include:

  • Improvements in customer satisfaction (and in turn customer loyalty).
  • Increases in sales (e.g. conversion rates, add-on sales, and up-selling).
  • Improvements in operational efficiency.

Clearly these are all key areas to any business, and improvements can be both rapid and significant. But the results can (and do) go further still.

As with report-based Mystery Shopping, another often-overlooked benefit is in helping organisations to control costs. For example, increased conversion rates can help control costs relating to marketing, PR, and lead generation, and to more effectively allocate finite resources (e.g. training and development, and direct staff costs themselves).

Brand promise and reputation

The reputation of any brand - large or small - depends, more directly than ever, on the quality of the customer experience, and the delivery of the "brand promise".

Reputations have never been more important, or more fragile.

If there are failings in the customer experience, the impact (of either addressing these or not doing so) can be pivotal to the future fortunes of the business.

Overall, there are many very significant potential benefits.

Which industries can use Video Mystery Shopping?

As with “standard” or report-based mystery shopping, the applications of Video Mystery Shopping are many and varied.

Video Mystery Shopping can be used to great effect in any of the B2C  industries that commonly use report-based mystery shopping, including automotive, property (including new homes), optical care,  retail, hospitality, leisure and tourism, medical care, elder care, transport, and many more).

Gaining the most powerful insights depends on choosing the right scenario and the right approach. This requires some thought and care, and often some creativity.

The team at Customerwise have lots of experience in organising Video Mystery Shopping projects and programmes that include complex multi-stage sales scenarios (for example, in the automotive, property, and elder care industries).

Costs, and other considerations

The following deserve a mention and should be considered by any business considering the use of Video Mystery Shopping.

Of course, there is a financial cost attached to any programme of Mystery Shopping, but these costs can be easily controlled, and at any sensible volume, the return on investment should be certain and significant.

What probably deserves just as much thought at the outset is the potential effect on staff and their morale.

Staff perceptions and morale

Employers have different approaches to this. Some employers assert that it's their absolute, unequivocal right to see exactly what their customers experience and how their staff are performing in their roles. On the other hand, some employers (understandably) have some concerns about the potential reactions of staff.

Employers are legally required to inform staff if they are going to be filming them (or arranging for them to be filmed) at work (although in many environments, this is already taking place via CCTV).

Of course, even when told about it, individuals don't all love the idea of being "secretly filmed".

Discussions and approaches

It is important therefore to have an open and frank discussion about the goals and purpose of any Mystery Shopping programme. Generally, the more of a customer-focused culture exists already, the more open staff members are likely to be to the idea of Mystery Shopping (including video-recorded) activity.

Another thing that often helps to bring staff "on board",  is to offer some sort of reward structure for good performance. This can help foster an atmosphere of healthy competition.

A crucial point

One thing that should be remembered with Video Mystery Shopping, as with report-based Mystery Shopping:

The only things that are being recorded are the things that normal customers see.

Of course, this doesn't include any "private moments", because private moments would not take place in front of a customer. The only things that get recorded in a Video Mystery Shopping visit, are the things that staff members are happy / willing to have happen "on show" in front of ordinary everyday customers, and to allow ordinary customers to see. We believe this is an important thing for employers and staff to keep in mind.

It's reasonable for any employer to expect that staff members who are customer facing, or who are observable to customers, should try to perform at their best and create a positive impression at all times.

The knowledge that there is a Video Mystery Shopping programme in operation, in the context of that point, can help staff to remain mindful of this and to remain professional (and polite, friendly, efficient, etc.) at all times.

We discuss the ethics of Mystery Shopping in more detail, as well as tips for how to best handle and prepare for a programme of Mystery Shopping,  elsewhere on this website.

Why use Customerwise for your Video Mystery Shopping programme or project?

The quality of a B2B service can really only be judged through its delivery. "The proof of the pudding is in the eating."

Our top priorities reflect those of most of our clients:

  • Realistic and relevant interactions, from skilled and well briefed and prepared shoppers.
  • Accurately completed reports (that are quickly and easily accessible any time from publication, along with the footage).

We often find that Video Mystery Shopping clients require plenty of regular contact. There are quite often special requests at fairly short notice, so they need a partner who is flexible and responsive.

The quality of a service comes down, more than anything, to the general competence of the people involved in delivering the service, and how much they care; whether they take time to really understand your goals and priorities, and then work diligently as a part of your team to help you achieve your objectives, solve problems, and spot new opportunities.

At Customerwise we pride ourselves on being easy and rewarding to work with.

But don’t take our word for it. See what our clients think by taking a look at our testimonials.

Or, you could just call us now on 01392 984224 for a chat about your requirements, or contact us online.