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.”
Disgusting and Horrible. These words are not only negative and highly emotional, they are vague. What is “horrible service”? Instead of using vague language to characterize what happened, describe what actually happened.
Should. Tell what you observed, not what they should do about it. Sentences such as, “The staff need training in customer service,” should not be in your report.
I Think, I Feel and I Believe. If you are using these phrases, you are inserting your opinions into reports. Mystery shop reports should be objective, and your opinions do not belong there. “I think it was very rude of Jim to ignore me and talk to his fellow employee,” should not be in your report. What should you write instead? “Jim was talking to another employee and did not acknowledge me,” or something similar that describes what happened and not how you felt about it.
Very, Really and So. Saying that the wait was long is not specific. Saying it was “very long” doesn’t add any understanding. Be specific. “There were five people ahead of me in line and it was six minutes and eight seconds before I reached the cashier.”
About and Approximately. More vague language. “There were about six people behind the counter.” Were there six people, five, twenty or fifty? Be specific.
Use specific, objective language in your mystery shop reports to communicate exactly what occurred during your visit.
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