Retail Mystery Shopping Program Design

Purchase Intent Based Approach

Kinēsis employs a purchase intent based approach to mystery shop program design. This approach helps our clients identify and reinforce sales and service behaviors which drive purchase intent and loyalty. We help clients focus training, coaching, incentives, and other motivational tools directly on the elements of the customer experience that will produce the largest return on investment.

Questionnaire design anticipates the analysis and typically includes observations of objective behaviors, subjective impressions and comments. Together, these three elements of questionnaire design reveal the “what”, “how” and “why” of the client experience, each map to a specific analytical purpose in indentifying drivers of purchase intent and loyalty as follows:

Purchase intent based approach to program design.

Design Process

Kinēsis employs a highly consultative approach to program design. Generally program design starts with a detailed discussion with the client regarding their objectives.

Defining research objectives first is by far the most effective way to make sure your program is on track, on budget, and produces results that drive business success. Defining research objectives is a fairly simple process. First, generate a list of everything you want to know as a result of the research, identify specific behaviors you expect from frontline employees.

From this definition of research objectives, decisions can be made with respect to questionnaire content, scenario design and sampling plan. Once you have developed a list of what you want to know as a result of the research and sales and service behaviors you expect from your staff, the next step is to map each service behavior to a specific mystery shop question.

Questionnaire design is typically an iterative process. Kinēsis prepares the first draft of the questionnaire. The first draft is submitted to the client for review and comment, and goes through a number of drafts until a final document is approved.


Our sales had been declining, and although that’s not unusual in a weak economy, they had declined faster than the sales of our competitors and of retailers in general. At the same time, the customer service scores our third-party mystery-shopper service was reporting were going through the roof. This didn’t make any sense. How could it be that we were delivering phenomenal service to our customers, yet they weren’t buying anything?

Our mystery-shopping scores were correct. You know what was flawed? Our scoring system. We were asking the wrong questions.

- Kevin Peters, Staples

Harvard Business Review