When using mystery shoppers to assess your staff’s performance, don’t focus solely on the negatives.


Making sure your institution’s admissions staff is performing to the best of its ability and consistently representing the school in a way that leaves a positive impression on prospective students is, obviously, a very important thing.

That’s why more schools are utilizing “mystery shoppers” to provide feedback immediately following their visit and/or interactions with admissions counselors. At Norton Norris, we’ve been a national leader in providing these assessment services for more than 20 years now and have seen firsthand the impact that these assessments can make.


One of the key benefits of engaging in an assessment exercise is to see where improvements in your staff’s performance can be made.

  • Are they making visitors feel welcomed and valued?
  • Are they articulate and positive?
  • Do they have the necessary information on hand to provide accurate, relevant answers to questions?
  • Are they making sure visitors are getting the most out of the campus tour?

These are just a few examples of things that may often be areas of focus in terms of admissions staff performance. The feedback provided from mystery shoppers provides an invaluable insider’s perspective and equips admissions offices with the necessary fodder to improve and enhance the experience delivered to visiting prospective students.

But assessments also provide another kind of information that, all too often, isn’t given the attention it deserves.  

The positive outcomes.

Of course, when a school devotes time and resources to take a deeper look at its admissions and campus visit operation, it’s going to focus on those actionable items… this could’ve been done better, that person could’ve been more informed, the tour should’ve included this, and so on.

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But what about all of the positive feedback that comes in? This rep made me feel like part of the family… they went out of their way to answer every question I had… the atmosphere just seemed so positive, and so on.

This is the kind of feedback that needs to be a point of focus as well. It can be used to reward those staff members going above and beyond, raise the office’s collective morale, and as a way to provide examples of excellent service to newer team members and those who could stand to improve in their position.

So just for fun, here are some examples of real-life positive feedback our mystery shoppers have provided (we’ve changed the names).

I arrived early, around 3:30 p.m. for my 4:00 p.m. appointment, and Samantha provided a warm welcome and handshake at 3:35 p.m. She told me not to apologize for coming early and had a sincere and positive demeanor that was infectious. I felt like I was speaking to a knowledgeable friend. At the end of the visit, Samantha wished me a lovely weekend and gave me a hug, after first asking permission. It was a very positive experience.

Amanda was personable and made me feel welcome. She began with some small talk in order to better get to know me and included comments about herself in the conversation to make me feel conformable. Amanda gave me an extensive tour of the school and was very detailed in her explanation of each area. She gave the impression that she was very proud of every aspect of the school and introduced me to staff and faculty. This was a great experience; if I knew someone who was interested in attending school, I would refer them to Amanda.

I had a very pleasant experience and based on my experience, I would have wanted to attend this campus.

I had many opportunities to ask questions throughout my interview and Bryan told me so much about the program that it made me want to start culinary school there.

Alex was very pleasant and enthusiastic as she made the college and the program sound great. She was encouraging about the job field, and she showed me a degree program that could be added onto the medical billing and coding for just an additional nine months.

During the tour, Nick showed me the student classrooms, the bookstore, Career Services, and several hands-on demonstrations. Nick’s tour was incredibly comprehensive since he showed me every nook and cranny of the school, and we spent just over 40 minutes together.

Jennifer invited me on a tour of the school. We visited all of the areas of the campus, including a small hangar. In the hangar were small planes and a helicopter. She explained that this was where I would spend a lot of time doing “hands-on” learning during the program. We continued the tour and walked outside and into another hangar. This hangar was lined with turbines and plane engines. Jennifer explained that I would also be spending a lot of time here when I was working on the power plant portion of the program.

There you have it. Objective, positive insights like these provide exceptional opportunities to reward your staff and even develop new training initiatives with the assistance of the stars you have on staff, of whom you may not even have been aware.

So remember, use all of the information that comes your way from assessments like these. And don’t lose sight of the silver lining when it comes to the performance of your admissions office.