How Long Should My Mystery Shop Report Be?


Do mystery shopping companies expect that your reports will be a certain length? Do they want you to include every detail, or just the most important things? How much to they want you to write anyway?

There is always an expected length for comments and narratives, but the expectations vary by mystery shopping company and client. Many report forms will give a minimum or maximum number of characters, or will suggest a minimum number of sentences for each section of the report.

Some clients want reports that are short and to-the-point. They will limit how many words or characters you may include. How much you can tighten your writing will depend on the expectations of the mystery shopping company and their client. It may be acceptable to use contractions. Some companies may allow you to remove articles (e.g., ‘the’), but most will not as that results in sentence fragments. Continue Reading

Tips for Writing Comments and Narratives

report-tipsHere are some quick tips to keep in mind when writing your reports.

Stick to the facts. Don’t offer your opinions unless they are specifically requested. Watch out for “I” language, such as, “I think,” “I feel,” or “I believe.” These are opinions.

Think of yourself as a fly on the wall. Report what you observed.
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When and How to Use Quotations in Mystery Shop Reports

quotations-in-reportsOne of the goals you should have when writing mystery shop reports is to help those who read the report to feel that they were there, experiencing what you experienced during the shop.

Directly quoting what employees said to you during a mystery shop visit is one of the things that helps the mystery shopping company and the client imagine what your visit was really like.

But quotations can be overused. Let’s look at when you would use quotations and when you should leave them out.
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Funny Mystery Shopper Comments

bagged-myselfSometimes what we write doesn’t effectively communicate what we mean. Mystery shopping company Confero offers a blog post about funny comments on mystery shop reports that includes this gem: “There were no baggers helping the cashier so I bagged myself.”

Okay, we know what the shopper meant, but her words paint another picture entirely. Misspellings, misplaced modifiers and other writing errors can mean that a mystery shopper’s report does not say exactly what the shopper thinks it does, and those errors can be made by even the most experienced mystery shoppers.

It is easy to make these kinds of mistakes, even when the shopper carefully proofreads the report before submitting it. We know what we meant when we wrote it, so we tend to read what we meant rather than what it actually says.

One good way to catch errors is to read comments and narratives out loud. Sentences that made sense as you read them on the page or the screen may not sound right when you hear them spoken.

Have a good laugh reading about the mistakes made by other shoppers, then proofread your reports carefully so that you do not show up in a future blog post!

Word Lists for Mystery Shop Reports

I get a lot of requests for lists of words secret shoppers can use in their reports. The requests usually go something like this:

It is hard to make my reports unique. There are only so many ways I know to say what happened during a mystery shop. Do you have a list of words I can use to make my reports more interesting?

There is a very simple way to make your reports interesting and unique and it doesn’t involve using a list of adjectives.

Every mystery shopper has fallen into the trap of saying things such as:

  • Anne made me feel welcome.
  • Jeff was polite and helpful.
  • The hostess was warm and friendly.
  • Our server was knowledgeable.

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Writing Great Mystery Shop Reports

Do you struggle when writing your mystery shop reports? Does it take much longer than you think it should to complete a report? Do you often get questions about your reports from editors, or even have your reports rejected?

I have just released a new DVD that can help. It is 71 minutes of great ideas and tips to help you write better reports in less time. When you write better reports, you can qualify for more and better mystery shopper jobs. And when you write faster, you get more done in less time so your hourly rate goes up.

Discover how to answer the tough questions, what clients and companies want to see (and what they don’t want) in comments and narratives, how to find the right words and much more including:

  • Three things you should NEVER do in your reports.
  • The best way to add more details to your reports.
  • How five minutes now can save you lots of time later.
  • The four words that will make your reports better, every time.

Plus, get answers to your questions about mystery shopper reports. I have personally trained more than 10,000 mystery shoppers, and I can help you become a mystery shopper or become a better mystery shopper.

This DVD is a recording of a live webinar I presented to subscribers to my Mystery Shopping Tips newsletter. The DVD will play in your computer or DVD player. (You can get invited to future webinars when you sign up for my free mystery shopper email course. Fill in your name in email address in the box on the left side of this page.)

Order your copy of Writing Great Mystery Shop Reports for just $29 now!

We accept PayPal, as well as MasterCard, Visa and Discover through our secure shopping cart.

Mystery Shopper Reports and the Perfect 10

When mystery shoppers submit reports to mystery shopping companies, they are reviewed by editors. The editors not only make sure the reports are perfect before releasing them to the clients, they may also score the mystery shopper.

Most companies that rate or grade secret shoppers use a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is outstanding and 1 is for shoppers who ought to start thinking about a new profession.

If you want to be a top-rated shopper, there are a few simple steps that can get you there. Here is how you can be a perfect 10.Continue Reading

Words That Should Never Be in Your Mystery Shop Reports

When writing mystery shop reports, there are some words and phrases that are like kryptonite to editors. Although each situation is unique, and there may be times when it is appropriate to use one or more of these words and phrases, you should generally avoid them.

Always and Never. These are extreme words that are probably not true. They may cause clients to question the report if they are used in a negative way (e.g., “Sally never smiled.”)

Appeared and Seemed. “The floor appeared to be clean.” Well? Was it clean or wasn’t it?

Better Than and Worse Than. You should avoid comparisons in mystery shop reports, such as, “The food is better at Joe’s Diner.” This also goes for other comparisons, such as, “The service was slower than usual.”
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Seven Ways to Write Mystery Shop Reports Faster

The most time-consuming part of most mystery shops is writing the reports. Saving time on report writing (while still doing a great job, of course) means that you make more money in less time. Here are seven things you can do to write great mystery shop reports in less time.

Assemble everything you will need to do the report before you sit down at the computer. Get receipts, notes, business cards, guidelines, etc. together in one place so you do not have to keep running off to get something else you need.

Eliminate any distractions. Turn off the television, don’t answer the phone, and tell the kids not to disturb you unless there is blood.
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Make Your Mystery Shop Reports Unique

Do you like to get form letters? You know, those letters where they try to sound personal, but you can tell the same letter went to thousands of other people?

Most people hate form letters; however, many mystery shoppers like to submit “form reports.” By that I mean reports that all read alike, and appear that they could be submitted for just about any shop assignment by changing a few details.

Each mystery shop experience is unique, and your reports should reflect that uniqueness. When a client receives a batch of mystery shop reports that are nearly identical, they may start to wonder if there is truly any value in mystery shopping. And companies that receive cookie-cutter reports from a shopper may wonder if the shopper really did the assignment, or if they are simply recycling old reports.

Here are some tips to make your reports accurately reflect what happened during your shop visit while adding variety and interest to your reports—and also making it less likely that your reports will be questioned by the mystery shopping company or the client.Continue Reading