In-Restaurant Mystery Shops Validate Piloted Training Initiative

Posted by TrendSource on December 05, 2018

Background and Client Objectives  

A national fast-casual restaurant needed to evaluate and validate the success of its customer service and experience initiatives, looking to tangibly link piloted service standards to improved customer experience before rolling out the standards to their 800+ franchised locations.  

They thus needed to understand if certain “test locations” with piloted customer service initiatives were linked to higher customer satisfaction than “standard locations.This would help the client better understand the strengths and weaknesses of their piloted initiatives and whether they were ready to be implemented system wide.  

How was the customer experience impacted or improved by the new approach to customer service? Did it improve it to such a degree as to suggest test location training modules should be rolled out to standard locations? These were among the questions the client needed TrendSource to help answer.  

Program Development and Methodology 

TrendSource determined that unrevealed mystery shops would offer the client the ideal portrait of a typical customer’s in-store experience and their evaluation of it Even with the wide variety of methodologies in the market researcher's toolkit, mystery shops remain a singular tool to evaluate the implementation and efficacy of in-store customer service standards, and TrendSource has been designing and executing mystery shop market research programs for decades.  

After helping the client develop a questionnaire to best measure and compare customer service and satisfaction in test and standard locations, TrendSource began the execution phase.  Utilizing its nation-wide, proprietary Field Agent database, TrendSource dispatched mystery shoppers to test and standard locations across the country. 

Field Agents submitted their reports within 24 hours of their evaluation, and, after 3,400 unique mystery shops, TrendSource’s Advanced Analytics team sifted through the data. 

Results and Analysis 

Satisfaction, the data revealed, was indeed higher at test locations. This validated piloted training strategies and suggested the client should begin exporting these strategies to locations nation-wide.  

TrendSource further provided location-specific evaluations, suggesting to the client which managers in particular were best at ensuring in-store standards were met. This information could then be utilized in future training initiatives as the new standards branched to other locations. 


At each stage of change initiatives, companies must ensure they establish systems to validate its successes. Market research methodologies provide this validation, whether it be in the pilot, rollout, or post-rollout stage.  

In this specific case, the client essentially needed to understand if they were being credited for enhanced customer service standards—if it was improving the customer’s in-store experience and satisfaction.  

For them, market research mystery shopping programs removed the mystery. 

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Topics: Market Research, Food Service, Mystery Shopping