As a mystery shopper, you likely love the “fun” part of your assignments, which for most mystery shoppers is the on-site visit. Once you get back home and sit down in front of your computer, however, comes the time to really let the work begin. For most mystery shoppers, completing the report for each assignment is not a part of the job that is eagerly anticipated. In fact, some mystery shoppers truly dread this part of the assignment.
There are many reasons that some mystery shoppers don’t like to complete their reports, and high among these reasons is the fact that they just don’t know how to answer the questions. Mystery shoppers are told to report the factual events of the report and to answer the questions as they are written, but many questions leave plenty of room for interpretation. Plus, during some assignments, there are events that you feel just need to be reported even if there isn’t a specified place on the report for it. So what information should be included on your reports?
Stick To Answering the Questions. The mystery shopping assignment was ordered by the company for a specific reason, and the questions on the report were designed to address that reason. So read each question thoroughly to truly understand what is being asked for in the question, and then do your best to fully answer that question without going off on a different topic. This can be tricky to master, so after you have finished typing your answer, take a moment to go back and read through both the question and answer again to make sure they correspond.
Unique Observations and Interactions. Every assignment you do is truly unique. However, most of the reports are written in such a way as to cover every aspect of the assignment. Many will offer you the freedom to fill in unique observations about everything from the condition of the restrooms to your direct interactions with employees. Depending on how the questions are written and how your site visit played out, you may need to go into significant detail in some areas while others may require very little commentary from you. Regardless of how much or little detail you feel is necessary, be sure to stick to your unique interactions with store staff and your unique observations. Avoid providing your opinion unless it is specifically requested.
Things To Avoid. There isn’t necessarily a clear cut list of things to avoid on your report, but in general you want to keep in mind that you are reporting your own experiences and observations in the store. If you observed another customer having a bad experience, in most cases this should not be reported unless it directly ties into your experience in the store. The reason for this is that you don’t know all of the circumstances that led up to the other customer’s situation at the store. However, if somehow this other customer’s altercation with an employee caused some effects for your own experiences at the store, then you should go ahead and include your own observations and your own experiences without including hearsay, conjecture, or opinion. As you can imagine, this is a fine line to tread. Keep in mind that your report is supposed to be an unbiased report of your own experiences on-site. Read through your report after you have written it and ensure it meets this requirement.
There really is a fine art to writing mystery shopping reports. Many mystery shoppers adopt the role of being an unbiased report of the facts just fine. For others, there always seems to be a gray area that can cause some issues. If you aren’t sure how to answer a specific question, you should contact your scheduler or post a question online at the mystery shopping forums to get some feedback.