By Danielle Parks, Customer Impact Editor

As a mystery shopper, you might be wondering why a client would ask you to provide comments on the questions that you answer with a No.  Isn’t this redundant and unnecessary?  Not at all!

Think about when you received a lower grade than you might have expected on a test in school.  Wouldn’t you have checked your work to see where you messed up (or maybe, just maybe, where the teacher messed up?)  The same concept applies for the client when they receive the reports.  If they see a question marked as No (an answer that took away points from the overall score), they will check the comments to see what happened.  These are the areas where the client would like to improve.  If they don’t know what’s wrong, how can they fix it?

There is a second reason as to why the No comments need to be included within the narrative.  Remember how it was a possibility (however slim) that the teacher might have made a mistake when they graded your test?  It is perfectly possible for a shopper to accidentally answer a question as No, when they meant yes.  Without a comment to back up that answer, the client couldn’t be sure if this is actually something they need to work on.  Having the comments fully support the scores is crucial in getting an accurate and clear evaluation.


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Okay, so we know that commenting on No answers is important, but why do they have to be so explicit?  Isn’t it enough to say that the server was not attentive?  Again, not at all!

Often times, the comments can be simple and straightforward, doing little more than reiterating the question in a negative tone.


For example:

Question: Did the server smile?

Acceptable Answer: The server did not smile.


However, sometimes, a little more of an explanation is required.

For example:

Question: Did the server greet you within one minute?

Acceptable Answer: The server greeted me after two minutes.


Here’s an example of an answer that does not quite cut it:

Question: Did the hostess ask you to enjoy your meal before leaving the table?

Unacceptable Answer: The hostess walked us to the table, gave us menus, and left.


This answer is not explicit enough.  It might imply that she did not ask you to enjoy your meal since it wasn’t listed with the other actions, but it does not specifically say that she didn’t.  The information tells us what the hostess did, but not what the hostess did not do.


Here’s a better way to answer that question:

Acceptable Answer: The hostess walked us to the table and gave us menus, but she did not ask us to enjoy our meal before leaving the table.

There is another type of No answer that should also be commented on specifically.  Sometimes, the questions will have answer options that are more of a rating system rather than Yes or No.

For example:

Question: The service was…

Answer Choices: Excellent / Very Good / Fair / Poor

If you answer with anything other than “Excellent” but do not provide specific comments as to why you answered that way, the client will not have any information on how they can take their service to the next level.

As a mystery shopper, always remember that the point of the evaluation is to help the client improve. Specifically commenting on the questions you answer with a No is not redundant, it is an important step in that process.

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