When you are first getting started as a mystery shopper, the job can seem pretty cut and dry. You perform your site visit, and then you head home to complete your report online. You may think initially that the report is the easiest aspect of the job because you simply have to write the black-and-white responses to the questions based on what you experienced at the site visit. However, some assignments will crop up and turn your whole black-and-white mentality about mystery shopping into a fuzzy, gray haze.
Those Fuzzy Times
So just what are those fuzzy times we’re talking about? There are points when writing many reports when mystery shoppers have to pause and consider just how much detail they need to provide to answer a question. Sometimes offering more detail can pose an ethical dilemma while other times it can provide an excuse that may prove helpful. As mystery shoppers, we are generally compassionate about the daily strife store employees go through. Sometimes we feel sorry for them because their boss is a real piece of work, and other times we feel for them because they are going through some personal issues that you learned about during your site visit. Clearly writing down negative comments could lead to their reprimand or even dismissal from the job.
Providing the Facts
It’s pretty easy to remind yourself that you simply want to write down the facts of the site visit, and what happens beyond that is out of your control. Yet sometimes the facts can be watered down without being untruthful. For instance, if a sales clerk didn’t greet you right away because he or she was on the phone, should you indeed say he or she was on the phone for the first ten minutes you were there and leave it at that, or should you say that the employee was on the phone with a pharmacy trying to get the correct medication for a sick parent?
The Human Side vs The Business Side
Every mystery shopper has a human side and a touch of compassion, but there is a flip side to our bleeding hearts that must be considered. The other factor is that other customers may not feel quite so compassionate about not being tended to because an employee was caught up in personal drama. Everyone has some drama to contend with at some point in time, and some people do find a way to deal with those issues outside of work. If you are truly turn between these two opposing sides, it is a good idea to report the basic facts without offering too much detail. You should keep in mind that more than likely a store clerk will be talked to about the situation, and his or her boss can decide at the time if compassion is in order or if this employee has shown a lack of dedication to the job on a recurring basis and to the detriment of the business.
The world we live in as mystery shoppers is not a black and white world, but it also is a much bigger scope than what we can see with our own short site visit. By providing honest and truthful answers, you help your clients have the information they need to give their customers the highest level of service but also to train their employees or correct employee issues, too.