Mystery shopping

Mystery shopping is a reliable way to assess the ease of access and quality of provision within your housing and/or homelessness service.

With many organisations having changed their delivery model during the pandemic, a mystery-shopping exercise can help you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your provision and make plans for future service delivery.

Why use Shelter?

Shelter has over 15 years' experience running mystery-shopping exercises for local authority housing and homelessness services. We understand the challenges and realities of delivering advice services, and the value of detailed, robust assessments by experts.

We work in partnership with JKS Mystery Shopping & Training Ltd, a leading UK market research agency.

What are the benefits?

A mystery-shopping exercise will help you gain a detailed understanding of:

  • how well you engage with customers at the point of initial contact.

  • how you compare with other local authorities we've recently worked with.

  • how you manage people, from initial contact to the diagnostic interview and advice.

  • how you could work more efficiently and deliver a quality, cost-effective service to your customers.

Our exercises have led authorities to improve customer engagement and work more efficiently.

Who are our mystery shoppers?

Our mystery shoppers are selected from JKS's 20,000-strong database, reflecting a diverse range of ethnicities, ages and experiences. Many have experienced homelessness and will use their own life experiences, whilst others are provided with scenarios to use. We ensure none of our shoppers are known to you, or have previously sought help from your service.

How is the mystery shop conducted?

The mystery shopping generally takes place over a four-to-six-week period at a variety of days and times. Exercises are set up to provide an assessment of:

  • the standards of access and customer care.

  • the approaches to gather information about service users and their situation.

  • the initial advice provided, including confirmation of next steps, and appropriate delivery or signposting to available housing options.

How are the results assessed?

One of our experienced business support consultants provides analysis of calls and face-to-face visits as part of a written summary report.

For telephone, online advice, or face-to-face services, each shopper is asked to contact the Housing Options Advice team and rate their experience against a number of assessment criteria, including factors such as the initial contact, the customer-service skills, and the guidance provided. Shelter can provide appropriate scenarios if required.

Once JKS have completed the mystery shopping, Shelter quality-check the calls and the scoring from a housing perspective, then produce a detailed feedback report.

Review of a housing options website

If you would like a website review, we can quote for this as part of the mystery-shopping package.

A housing options website review can answer a number of key questions, such as:

  • is your website intuitive and easy to access?

  • does it provide accurate and useful information?

  • does it detail how to contact services and manage expectations of what that contact provides?

How are the results reported?

All our mystery-shopping packages include:

  • a scorecard report, using a five-point performance scale.

  • detailed commentary on findings and recommendations.

  • a webinar presentation to feedback results and discuss recommendations and options.

How much does mystery shopping cost?

Our mystery-shopping packages start from £1,500. Alternatively we can design a bespoke exercise to meet your specific requirements.

By choosing to undertake mystery shopping with us, you will receive further follow-up discounts on other Shelter consultancy services.

Contact us

For further details regarding our mystery-shopping packages, and to discuss your requirements, please email training@shelter.org.uk or call 0344 515 1155.