Customer experience and mystery shopper: The winning duo for measuring and improving customer perception


June 21, 2024 / 3 min read


Customer Experience

Customer experience and mystery shopper: The winning duo for measuring and improving customer perception

In today’s economy, customer orientation is the major concern for managers operating in a B2C business context.

Many authors assert that the current North American economy has moved beyond the service economy to what is now called the experience economy. Although the importance of measuring customer experience is widely recognized, there is still confusion among many about the distinct concepts of service quality (conformity), customer satisfaction, and customer perception. As a result, many companies either poorly measure or fail to measure the critically important customer experience. Here are the latest developments in this science that benefits to managers who can master it.

Several research methodologies allow for measuring customer experience, but few offer the ability to measure customer perception. One such method is the “real customer” mystery shopper approach. Often confused with the “classic” mystery shopper approach, mystery shopper has a somewhat tarnished reputation. However, when the “real customer” mystery shopper approach is used rigorously, it not only effectively measures conformity but also captures customer perception. This allows companies that use it to significantly enhance their profitability by increasing sales and/or reducing operational costs.

Today, the mystery shopper (both “classic” and “real customer” types) is a global industry worth several billion dollars. Indeed, interest in mystery shopper appears to be strong, particularly in retail. This interest is reflected, among other things, by the fact that the mystery shopper industry in North America alone generated estimated revenues of over $1.5 billion USD for the year 2023 (Mystery Shopping Providers Association, 2024).

One thing is certain, with statistics like this one, It is imperative to prioritize the customer experience, regardless of the methodology used!


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After exploring the crucial importance of customer orientation and the use of mystery shoppers as a method to measure and improve the customer experience, it is essential to more clearly distinguish the interrelated concepts of service quality, customer satisfaction, and customer experience. Although companies have long used tools such as service quality tests and customer satisfaction surveys to evaluate their performance, these traditional methods do not always capture the overall customer perception. It is this gap that led to the emergence of the concept of customer experience in the early 2000s.

In the next article, we will delve deeper into these distinctions and examine how integrating customer perception can provide a more holistic and accurate view of the interactions between businesses and their customers.

Christian Watier
Chief Scientific Officer, MBA, Ph.D.

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