Writing your mystery shopping reports is perhaps one of the most critical aspects of your job as a mystery shopper. You may have the keenest and most unbiased eye when you are on-site, but if you don’t have the ability to translate your observations into a well-written report, your skills are going to waste. There are a few things you can do to improve your report-writing skills.
Only The Facts! You not only want to stick to the facts, but also and most importantly provide only the facts about the questions that are asked. If you had a horrible time on an assignment, or even a great time, don’t come right out and say, “That store associate is the worst associate ever!” Instead, you need to TELL the provider through answering the questions that are asked how the events unfolded. Use the questions on the report to provide specific details of the events as they occurred. The provider will be able to tell by the events that unfolded (i.e. – the facts), that you had a horrible time or a great time.
Keep in mind that you likely will not have the opportunity to tell your entire story in one section. You will have to break down your store visit into small sections based on the questions asked. Many reports are broken down into a description of the store itself, the events surrounding your entrance into the store and the greeting you received, the service you received before you checked out, and your service while checking out. Bear in mind that while you may have had a truly horrible time checking out, the rest of your store visit may not have been too bad. By remaining unbiased and unemotional while writing your report and providing only factual statements, you will help the provider and store management determine the exact areas they need to improve their service.
Know Before You Go. Many mystery shoppers have probably at some point in their mystery shopping careers had that point where you are flying through answering the questions on a report only to reach a brick wall. You get to what appears to be a ridiculously absurd question, and the first thought that pops into your head is, “Now how on earth was I supposed to know to look for that?” The answer of course is to read through the questionnaire before you go. It is always better to know before you set foot in the store what specific items you need to be paying attention to. This way you will have concrete, factual, and accurate responses to each question that is asked.
English 101. Grammar and spelling may not be your strong suit. However, these skills are incredibly important in a job as a mystery shopper. The only way you are conveying your experience at the assignment location is through your written word. So your writing needs to be error-free, as well as easily understood. It is best to keep your sentences relatively short, as thoughts are more easily conveyed in short sentences. Read your answers out loud before you click the “Submit” button to ensure what you have written is clear and concise.
If you need to, write your answers in a Word document so you can run the spell check and grammar check features. Then you can simply cut and paste your answers into the online report form when you are ready to submit your report.
Following these basic tips will help to keep your reports error-free and ensure they are accepted the first time around by your provider.
how to write right is a book,do you know the author or ibdn number.?
Do you recommend this book?
There is a book series on writing is either authored or published by Barron’s Magazine that is simple and excellent.
There are some MS companies that do not have a spell check in their submission process. Buyer Beware of those jobs!
Thank you for these tips. New ones may wonder if they can even have or express an opinion. I can be tricky sticking to only facts. Some reports allow a provision for expressing an opinion, some do not. I especially like the point you mention about specific sections in a report, each having its own specific questions; this I find helpful in knowing “what” the client is looking for. I take my cue from those questions. English 101? It has been my observation in blogs like these, that a great number of shoppers truly lack writing skills, in every spectrum of English. I sometimes imagine myself as the client reading the reports, for which I have paid, and having a real challenge understanding how this passed. Perhaps this is not a common scenario if the schedulers have a top notch editing department. All of your reminders and tips are very much needed and appreciated! :)!
“The Technique of Clear Writing” by Robert Gunning is out of print, but you can get used copies on-line. I have used it as an editor and instructor for people who don’t care to write.
I find writing my narrative on a word processor where I can check spelling and grammar is useful, especially if my connection goes away just as I’m finishing a long non saveable report!!!! Just beware that the grammar check only suggests possible areas of concern and can’t be depended upon. (I beta tested a popular grammar check program many years ago, it came with one floppy and a 1 1/2 inch thick grammar text, the instructions were: first memorized the book (hahahaha).
I found the easiest way to check my spelling is to open a “write e-mail” and copy paste my comments there. Then I do a spell check from my e-mail which is quicker. I find the red highlights in the report spellchecks somewhat hard to read when I am tired and it is late and I am facing a deadline. If I have a correction, I just cut and paste it into the report to replace the misspelled comment.
When finished I just delete my e-mail.
By the way, I’ve had editors tell me something was grammatically incorrect when it wasn’t. It’s not that I don’t make mistakes, but my use of grammar is generally excellent because I know the subject. So just because an editor says you made a mistake, don’t beat yourself up. Just move on.
I have been using a download called IeSpell. So far, it has been invaluable in my reporting. I can actually spell check this forum. I found the download on one of the MSing websites. I use AOL. You just right click and there it is. Other browsers offer a toolbar for IeSpell. AOL does not. This tool has been very helpful. It does not grammar check, however.
I love the instructions some reports ask of their authors. For example: Comment on all no answers in full sentences. The restriction only use 1000 characters. Now admittedly my favorite example of this was a really bad shopping experience but: when the report was written in word it took 2637 characters, just a little over the allowable. My choice was to only comment on the most grievous omissions in the shop, and wait. Sure enough the scheduler e-mailed me the next day and asked why I did not comment on about 6 other “no” answers. I referred her to the limitations on the form and sent her the original report which I had saved. Solution is to please leave the shoppers enough room to properly report their shops on the forms to begin with.
….. and don’t you just love it when guidelines and/ or questionnaires are misspelled or contain grammatical errors! Talk about the frying pan rating the kettle black!
Good suggestions, all! Thank you.
I APPRECIATE ALL OF THE ABOVE ADVICE. IT IS VERY HELPFUL. THANKS.
I just got denied a payment for a $40 apartment shop. It was an apartment in Davis. I live in Sac and the drive alone was worth something. The shop directions said the Fall semester, 2009. I told the leasing manager during the recorded phone call that I would need an apt. in February, 2009. She totally flopped the recorded call part of her evaluation and since I used the wrong date she was able to stop me from getting paid. The part that makes me mad is that there is no compromise. I drove from Sac to Davis, shopped the property and the agent, did a report and I won’t be getting a dime. She still performed lousy on the phone whether or not I used the wrong date. Frustrated . . . .
I recently was not paid by Bare International and the scheduler there gave me a headache asking me to be undetected yet go beyond the parameters that was set up by security. I don’t know what perverse delight he got out of this but the incident made me swear off this particular company it was just that crazy. He called me several times a day asking me to correct something that was in my opinion already amended and set straight. I got one last call after many and after revisiting my survey several times that I would not be paid for that shop and it was costly and time consuming..but I learned something from that incident, people have issues in all walks of LIFE.