Blog: Mystery shopping research

Mystery shopping research: how to improve services and grow sales

Once upon a time

Mystery shopping saw the light of day sometime in the early 20th century. The reason was the high level of theft that took place, where it turned out that the employees themselves were stealing from their employer. To stop this, the first mystery shoppers (then called private detectives ) were deployed*. This development occurred mainly in the period of the 30s, at the time of the Great Depression, especially within shops and banks. Banks? That's right. At that time, it was still possible for the employee to say that he / she would deposit the money into the customer's account, while in fact the money was transferred to the employee’s account.

As industrial production was accompanied by the (r)evolution with regard to services (70s/80s), the need for customer-oriented employees increased. And with it, the research into it.

In the decades that followed, we saw the rise of the internet, we saw the economy flourish and then going into crisis mode and finally competition became increasingly fierce due to internationalization and the openness of the markets. The need for the continuous focus on service and sales only increased.

As a result, mystery shopping research has grown further and further, both in the width of application and in volume.

From our start to now

In the 18 years we have evolved from mystery shop agency that mainly focuses on retail to leading agency in the Benelux with activities in many sectors. In 2004, it was mainly about the service offered in stores. In the years that followed, we innovated towards a service that assesses all contact moments and helps companies to improve the entire customer journey. From store to webshop, from phone to chat, from e-mail to the digital customer journey.

As a result, we have been able to help customers to:

  • Grow in terms of their service level;
  • Give employees the feedback that made them grow;
  • To see their turnover grow;
  • Optimally combine online and offline touchpoints;
  • Set up shopping competitions that have led to turnover, competition and motivation.

But what are the five advantages of mystery shopping research that made this possible?

Why should you use mystery shopping research? Five reasons

1. Mystery shopping research delivers in depth insights on top of quantitative data

For example, do you want to know why in a certain phase of the online journey or in a specific group of stores customers give a low NPS? Then use mystery shoppers who can look at this in a targeted way.

2. One method to measure the entire journey

We have known for a long time that the customer experience is determined by the sum of several moments. In addition, customers have contact with your organization from different perspectives. Do you want to excel in the entire customer journey? And would you like to read more about this from time to time? Then be sure to read this page

Link to Customer Journey Research | excap - Al 16 jaar marktleider

3. Specific target groups, specific mystery shoppers

From premium shopper to tourist, from handyman to automotive fan; we have been able to recruit all profiles of mystery shoppers in our database in recent years. If you want to have a realistic picture of the experience of your customers through the use of mystery shopping research, then a good match between shopper and customer is essential.

4. Online mystery shopping, a new trend

Online performance is widely measured. Nevertheless, we see that there are still great opportunities hidden in the details of online processes. How does the potential customer experience the entire online flow, where are moments of happiness and frustration and where are revenue opportunities missed? Here too, mystery shopping can easily provide insight.

5. The way to provide employees with applicable feedback

Mystery shopping is not an end, but a means. The goal is to grow your organization and employees. Within the entire ecosystem of data that you may have already built up, mystery shopping research at employee level can give tips & tops.

Would you like to gain more insight into the applications of mystery shopping research? Read the customer cases.

Link to our cases 

* By the way, we no longer use mystery shopping research for theft prevention. Although we have been asked for it more often, we do not see ourselves as store detectives and for us the safety of our mystery shoppers comes first.


  • What types of mystery guest research are there?

    There is a very wide range of researches. We can best classify them into three broad categories: for customers, for employees and for others. The latter is more about quality audits, candidate experience and discrimination surveys. > All surveys > Read more

  • Is mystery guest research also used for online journeys?

    Absolutely. An online customer shops differently compared to a customer in a physical shop. Online mystery shopping exposes the bottlenecks in your webshop, so that you can improve the online experience. The entire buyer journey is measured, up to and including the return of the purchase.

  • How do Customer Journeys and mystery guest research go together?

    In a mystery guest research, we go through all the steps of the Customer Journey. At each step we measure how this step contributes to an excellent customer experience. Unique to our method is the ExperienceCapture in which conscious and subconscious emotions are recorded for each step.

  • What criteria determine the cost of a good mystery guest research?

    Each research consists of Project Management, Briefing, Execution & Reporting. The cost for execution is the biggest part. This cost is influenced by the number of measurements to be performed, the complexity and length of the assignment and the profile of the mystery shopper. > More information

  • What is the impact of mystery guest research on Cx and Ex?

    Thanks to the innovative reporting tools and the frequency of the measurements, you gain insight into the results in order to subsequently formulate action-oriented conclusions. Your impact will be: higher customer and employee satisfaction and higher turnover.

  • Can I monitor the results during the mystery guest research?

    The results are brought together in a visual and user-friendly dashboard. The results and progress can therefore be followed live. You can consult the dashboard on desktop, tablet or mobile and that you can export the reports.

  • How do I get the right insights from the many data and data sources?

    Many companies collect more and more data from their customers. This concerns data from their own systems as well as data from external (research) partners. Excap can help to connect these different data sources so that overarching insights arise to realise a final impact.

  • What practical examples are there?

    Every week we publish new insights on Customer Experience and Employee Experience. We find it important to share our own expertise with our network. Or we let excap's ambassadors have their say: satisfied customers with whom we made a real impact.

  • Does excap mystery guest research also take place outside the Benelux?

    Definitely! Thanks to our extensive network of partners and years of experience with international projects, we not only > weglaten carry out mystery guest research all over Europe (and beyond) and also audits, customer journey research, consultancy and qualitative research. > To find out more

  • How can I research the employee experience?

    Employee experience is measured within different groups of employees, investigating different departments. Such a survey > research usually takes place once per quarter, but ideally every fortnight. In this way, progress and policy can be monitored and adjusted immediately.

  • Why is the feedback from mystery shoppers reliable?

    Our mystery shoppers receive an extensive briefing before the start of their assignment so that they are always well prepared. The number of assignments per mystery shopper is limited in order to guarantee quality. On top, there's an internal control before the delivery of the final results.

  • Who are the mystery shoppers from excap and how big is this file?

    Our database of over 5000 mystery shoppers consists of very different people. From young to old, from make-up lovers and handymen to teachers and engineers.

  • Can I ask an additional question?

    Of course. Ask your question by using the contact form and you will receive an answer as soon as possible. > Contact us