Here are some of the issues an editor has to consider when examining a secret shopping report.
Did the secret shopper complete the shop during the required time frame? Mystery shopper jobs may have to be completed on a specific day, or during a range of dates. For example, the shop guidelines may say that the shop is to be completed between the 1st and the 8th, and it must not be done on a Saturday. There may be a time of day specified (e.g., before 4:00 p.m.) or the guidelines may say that the shop may be done any time the business is open, except the 30 minutes after they open and one hour prior to closing time.
Did the shopper follow the correct scenario? That may include completing parts of the shop in the order specified by the client, presenting a specific situation to the employee (such as, “I am looking for a car that will carry at least five people comfortably.”) or asking a required knowledge question.
Did the mystery shopper follow all of the shop guidelines? There are many other guidelines in addition to completing the shop at the right time and following the scenario. These things might include spending at least a certain amount of time at the location, purchasing specified items, etc.
Is the mystery shop report complete? Did the shopper answer all of the questions, and provide all required comments?
Does the report make sense? You might be surprised how often a shopper will answer a question one way and give the opposite information in the comments. For example, a secret shopper may say, “Yes,” to the question, “Were you greeted within 30 seconds?” but then in the comments say, “Sherry greeted me 1 minute and 28 seconds after I arrived.” Huh?
Are the comments clear? Do they make sense, or is it not clear exactly what happened?
Were all required documents included? Mystery shops may require that the shopper submit a receipt, digital photos, business card or other documentation. The shop report is not complete without them.
If the editor has any questions about the information in the report, they will contact the shopper for clarification. When an editor asks you a question about a report, get the answer back to them quickly. They need to release the report to the client as soon as possible.
And, of course, the editor looks for correct writing—spelling, grammar and punctuation. That also means making sure the report follows the style guide established by the mystery shopping company. Style guides ensure that reports are consistent in areas where grammar rules are not black and white. For example, some mystery shopping companies want shoppers to use one space after a period, and others want two. Neither is incorrect, it is just a matter of style. (If a mystery shopping company has a style they want you to follow, they will probably tell you in the guidelines or on their website.)
Editors may also assign a grade to each report. Grades are often given on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the top score. Points are taken off for errors and omissions in the report.
Editors share information (through scores and notes) with schedulers. The quality of your reports will influence your ability to get future assignments. Make the editor’s job easy by submitting an excellent report and you will be in line to receive the best mystery shopper jobs.