The obvious to this question is no, and that there is no room for lying in a mystery shopping report. However, in practice, many mystery shoppers run into gray areas that may blur the lines on this. The fact is, there may be times when you are tempted to omit facts or tint the facts a bit because of various circumstances.
Be The Reporter. While you are completing your mystery shopping report, adopt the role of an unbiased reporter. Your job is to simply report the facts as they occurred, and answer only the questions that were asked. If you need help finding the right tone for your answers, read through a couple of online news articles to see what a reporting tone is like. If you are including your opinion in your answers, you may need to find a new tone.
Finding The Truth. If there is some gray area in some of the facts pertaining to your site visit, take a moment and think about your site visit in the larger picture. Overall, was the site visit positive or negative? As a shopper, did you enjoy your experience and your interaction with the staff? These may not be questions that are specifically asked for in the report, but they can lead you to the right way to formulate your answers to the questions in the report.
Keep in mind that, although you may be kind-hearted and don’t want to get someone fired, it is your job to report the facts. Your client is the venue’s owner, and by requesting the site to be “shopped”, they are trying to improve the overall customer experience. If there is a weak link in one of the store’s staff members, the owner needs to know what is happening. Also, simply because you file a negative report on a specific store or store’s staff does not mean that someone at the store will get fired. There are plenty of other alternatives that can take place, such as additional staff training, managerial training, and reprimand. By filing a report that is positive when your experience at the store was anything but positive, you are not helping anyone.
Use The Free Writing Section. As you are completing the report, specific questions may not leave room for you to explain any negative aspects of your site visit. However, the vast majority of reports include some type of free writing section that will allow you to explain anything else you feel is pertinent about your store visit. This is your chance to fully explain any gray areas. Before you complete this section of the report, look at the answers you have written so far in the report. Then address all of the questionable or gray areas at one time. What you type here can make a huge impact in a store’s decision between additional training, reprimand, and so forth. So use specific details here and again avoid the urge to fluff this section up with emotion.
Mystery shoppers know that all-out lying is a huge no-no in a report, but the gray areas as well as the ramifications of making negative comments can give a mystery shopper a moment’s pause in responding to report questions. When you report the facts and remove emotion or tinted facts from your report, you have done your job. What happens afterwards cannot be controlled or swayed by how you answer the report. So stick to the facts and you will be fine!