Mystery Shopper Programs: An Industry Ripe For Disruption

The Mystery Shopper market has grown to eclipse 1.5 billion dollars in recent years growing at around 10% annually. But in talking with C-level executives in the restaurant space we see an industry ripe for disruption. Traditional mystery shopper programs may not be around much longer. With the advent of the smart phone and the ubiquity of messaging today, this channel now becomes the medium in which retailers want information from their guests.

In recent meets with top enterprise brands, there has been a consistent level of dissatisfaction with mystery shoppers in one way or the other. Here are some of the highlights we hear frequently:

  • We do not like how mystery shoppers are auditors and not our real customers
  • We do not believe we receive sufficient data through mystery shoppers
  • We do not like that mystery shopper reviews are not onsite or in real-time
  • We do not like that mystery shopper data is not provided in a dashboard for data manipulation
  • We do not like how we cannot respond back to these shoppers or leverage the data for marketing purposes
  • We do not like how we cannot alter questions on a whim to our liking
  • We do not like spending large budgets on an area we no longer believe benefits our team

One large fast-casual operations team who has long soured on mystery shoppers, had this to say about their programs a couple months back:

“Mystery shoppers provides 1-to-2 14-minute glimpses over the course of each month that seemingly encapsulates the customer experience. We spend roughly $4M to generate 1-2 reviews per store and we are no longer benefitting from the data. We want our Operators to see a statistically relevant set of submissions per store monthly. We want those GMs to be able to respond to feedback and allow the influx of data to make them stronger. Our corporate team believes this framework for the guest experience can be honed through the questions we ask.” 

Tattle: The Anti-Mystery Shopper:

In the perspective of Tattle, mystery shopping is a competitor in the space (for the time being) as we help partners reduce bloated budgets and allocate money away from mystery shopper programs towards our platform. In this process, the decision in choosing Tattle is predicated upon six compelling reasons:

1. Survey Completion Rate: We drive the highest survey completion rate in the space at 99.53% -- we have been sharing insights with Bain & Co. because they have denounced their NPS system due to low feedback levels rendering their data statistically irrelevant. In their work with McDonald’s, they were forced to send in 400 mystery shoppers, but seek preferred partners to obtain 'experiential feedback'.

2. Mobile First Strategy: 93.93% of our feedback comes within a .3-mile radius of our partners’ stores, solidifying our thesis that if customers had the ability to provide private feedback through their smart phones, they would do it while they were having a guest experience.

3.  Unprecedented Engagement Levels: We drive roughly 75-120 feedback submissions of 15-25 questions monthly per store for each of our partners. This is the highest amount of feedback they have ever seen, noting a 50X increase compared to monthly mystery shopper reports and 25X more feedback compared to their monthly


4. Open API for Integration: With digital ordering on the rise (YUM! Brands has announced that 50% of its revenue now comes through takeout & delivery digital ordering channels), this presents an enormous issue for hospitality brands who now call this revenue channel ‘the black box of feedback; once the food is made, the customer experience from this point on is unknown.’ We now integrate with Olo and Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh to collect guest feedback after digital orders are made and we’ve already seen incredible success in bringing visibility to this channel.


5. Data Analytics & Benchmarking: Each customer is provided with a dashboard that allows for data analysis and manipulation along with a benchmarking system to identify the strongest and weakest stores by whichever data set or question they have chosen to ask, e.g. service, food, atmosphere, cleanliness, digital ordering, marketing, etc.

6. CXM Platform: Possibly the biggest differentiator between Tattle and a mystery shopper program is the ability to practice customer care through our platform. With real-time email alerts and a user-friendly dashboard our partners are able to seamlessly respond back to customers with Thank You's, Apologies, Digital Gift Cards or Online Review Requests