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Customer experience

Mystery shopping by disabled and older consumers

The Research Institute for Disabled Consumers has over 15 years' experience of carrying out mystery shopping to investigate service quality, sales practices and accessibility for disabled and older people. Mystery shopping is an effective method for exposing poor sales practice and recognising good customer service.

We currently run an annual programme of over 250 mystery shopping inspections for clients. Shoppers are selected from our UK-wide consumer research panel  of over 950 people from all age groups and who have a range of disabilities.

Mystery shoppers:

  • are briefed to observe and collect information and to record it accurately.
  • are available UK-wide
  • can visit local shops, make enquiries by phone or take home visits from salespeople
  • are disabled and older consumers
  • can be credibly matched to specialist services that they visit in ‘real life’
  • are specially recruited, trained and briefed for individual research projects

For every mystery shop, the shopper is given a briefing and an evaluation questionnaire. Both are carefully tailored to the project and client.

Much of our mystery shopping research is confidential.

Clients include: Age UK Trading, O2, the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) and Motability Operations.

Consumer workshops and focus groups

Consumer workshops and focus groups are an ideal way to discuss views and experiences and gain insights – whether existing, or new products or services.
Disabled pepole sit round a table in a Research Institute for Disabled Consumers workshop
Research workshop
  • Groups are recruited from our consumer research panel and from our community outreach network
  • Members come from all age groups and have a range of disabilities
  • We have trained moderators experienced at working with disabled and older consumers
  • We ensure all disabled people can participate, using communication support such as British Sign Language interpreters

Our workshop research clients


We specialise in quantitative and qualitative in-depth surveys designed to provide insights and understanding into consumer issues of interest to disabled and older people.

survey form

  • Specialists in inclusive research methodologies, ensuring that all disabled people can take part
  • Online and paper questionnaires, telephone and face-to-face interviews
  • Recruiting disabled and older participants (see our consumer research panel section) and advising on sampling issues

Case studies surveys

Large surveys

Fieldwork for large-scale surveys is sub-contracted to survey research agencies, although all our survey questionnaires are designed and written by our own experienced staff, and tested by carrying out pilot surveys.

Contact Caroline Jacobs, Head of Development, to discuss commissioning customer experience research.

The Research Institute for Disabled Consumers is a member of the Market Research Society.

Last updated: May 2019

See also: Consumer research panel | Usability testing | Research reports