[ARTICOLO] Blessing, G. and Natter, M. (2019), “Do Mystery Shoppers Really Predict Customer Satisfaction and Sales Performance?”, Journal of Retailing, in press

Mystery shopping (MS) is a widely used tool to monitor the quality of service and personal selling. In consultative retail settings, assessments of mystery shoppers are supposed to capture the most relevant aspects of salespeople’s service and sales behaviour. Given the important conclusions drawn by managers from MS results, the standard assumption seems to be that assessments of mystery shoppers are strongly related to customer satisfaction and sales performance. However, surprisingly scant empirical evidence supports this assumption. Authors test the relationship between MS assessments and customer evaluations and sales performance with large-scale data from three service retail chains. Surprisingly, they do not find a substantial correlation. The results show that mystery shoppers are not good proxies for real customers. While MS assessments are not related to sales, their findings confirm the established correlation between customer satisfaction measurements and sales results.

The originality of this study consists in findings, which raise serious questions about the informative value and the meaningfulness of MS data and underscore the need for methodological improvements of the MS tool.

May 2019