If you have completed even a handful of mystery shopping assignments, you’ve likely had a scheduler ask you to correct or revise your report in some fashion. Oftentimes, the scheduler’s requests are to clarify what you have written in your report if it is confusing or appears to be contradictory. Or the scheduler may have a pretty good idea for what the company is looking for in terms of specific details that perhaps you didn’t address in your original report. While revising your report for these reasons after it has been submitting can be annoying, it is completely within ethical boundaries.
The dilemma arises when a scheduler asks you to make drastic changes, to the point where you feel your report would then be incorrect. There are some things you can do to prevent this from happening, as well as steps you can take to ensure your reporting stays true to the fact if there is a dispute or change request.
Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining. Well, not necessarily true with mystery shopping. Most shoppers have been to at least a couple of really bad shops, where the service was beyond poor, the facility was filthy, and you without a doubt would not step foot back in that store again.
But there are many shops where you can mention both good and bad things. To be fair to the employees and the store, try to avoid harping on all of the negative aspects. As follows with good management skills, the store owners want to catch their employees in the act of being good as well as to know of areas they can improve on. When they tell the employee areas to improve on, they want to be able to say, “You’re doing great at this, but you need to improve at that.” So if you had to wait in line for ten minutes to check out, definitely mention that. However, you should also mention that the salesperson was working very hard to get through everyone in line and did not appear to be frazzled by the high volume of customers (or whatever positive aspect you can find in the situation.)
Just The Facts, Ma’am. This can be a tricky one for some shoppers. The scheduler and company only want to hear the unbiased and untainted facts of your visit. If your reporting sounds more like a fiction novel than a newspaper article, you need to revise your writing style. Even making a comment such as, “The fitting rooms smelled like sour milk” reflects an opinion to a degree. Instead, try something like “The fitting rooms had a bad odor” or better yet “I heard several customers discussing a bad odor in the fitting rooms.”
Many times what a shopper feels is the honest truth as to what occurred at the store may be true in the shopper’s eyes. However, if it appears to be tainted with opinion and unsubstantiated facts, your scheduler is likely going to ask that you revise it.
Also try to avoid telling a “what if” story. For instance, if an employee is mopping the floor and is not being prudent by putting up a “CAUTION” sign, avoid saying, “If I hadn’t noticed the floor was wet, I could have fallen.” You didn’t fall, and that is what the scheduler will dwell on. Instead, say something like, “The employee was mopping the floor without taking the safety precaution of putting up a sign. There were children running nearby.” The scheduler and company will both see that this is a safety concern without you having to spell it out.
The next time you are asked to make a change on your report, take a closer look at what the scheduler is asking. Is it a case of your opinions tainting the facts? Is your report leaning too much in the negative column without addressing positives, too? Try to keep an open mind to the changes the scheduler is asking you to make. However, if you feel the scheduler is asking you to make changes that are untruthful or incorrect, point that out to the scheduler and explain why changing the report as suggested would make the report incorrect. There likely is a compromise that you both can agree on, getting a report the scheduler can turn in to the company and that you feel is correct.