Every mystery shopper has been there at least a time or two. You complete your assignment and submit your report on time, and eagerly await your paycheck to arrive. Yet within days of submitting your report, your mystery shopping provider contacts you for revisions to your report. Perhaps you have a few too many typos, or perhaps the content of your report needs clarification. You happily make the changes and promptly re-submit the report, only to be contacted a few days later for additional revisions. After several rounds of this “question and answer” session with your provider, you have eaten up several days or even weeks, causing your paycheck to be delayed by at least that amount of time.
Everyone wants to get their paycheck as soon as possible. Here are some steps you can take to ensure your paycheck isn’t delayed by this vicious cycle of questions and answers with your provider:
Proofread Your Report. Aside from being annoying for anyone to read, typos can also change the content of your writing. Consider, for example, if you are quoting a salesperson who said, “This jacket sure is furry,” but instead you type that the salesperson said, “This jacket sure is funny.” The latter would surely throw red flags up about this salesperson’s ability to sell a jacket that she is ridiculous.
Punctuation errors can also cause some trouble for you. The mere location of a comma, period, or semi colon can entirely change the meaning of a sentence. If you aren’t not a grammatical expert, it may serve you well to brush up on grammar rules to ensure you are using punctuation properly. Then proofread your work to make sure your spelling and grammar aren’t going to cause issues after you submit your report.
Answer The Question. Following the line of being direct and to the point will not steer you wrong in mystery shopping. First, read through the question several times to ensure that you understand precisely what information is being asked for. Then answer the question exactly as it was asked, without providing too much detail. There is a fine line between providing too much detail and too little detail. Oftentimes, mystery shoppers who provide too much detail find that they have given their provider with additional details that may be confusing, misleading, or even seemingly contradictory. If you have had a problem with this in the past, pay attention on your next few reports to the amount of detail you provide in your answers. If you make a conscious mental note on your next few gigs of the amount of detail that worked versus what caused you issues down the line with the provider, you will soon enough learn how to answer the questions with just enough detail without going overboard.
Keep Your Opinion To Yourself. Some mystery shoppers, especially those new to the business, believe that mystery shopping is about telling retailers exactly what you think. This is not necessarily the case. Mystery shoppers are hired to be unbiased observers, reporting the details of their assignment in a way that is similar to a news story. You should stick to the facts of your site visit rather than offer your feelings and beliefs on your experiences unless they are otherwise asked for. With the details of your site visit and your observations, the retailer will be able to determine if you had a great experience or a less than par experience without you spelling it out word for word. Also, in most reports, you will be asked for your opinion at some point. So be sure to stick to the facts except where your opinion is directly requested.
These are the areas that cause mystery shoppers the most trouble with their reports. When you take the time to fine-tune your report-writing in these areas, you will find that vicious cycle of questions and answers with your provider happen less frequently and your paychecks arriving much sooner!