By Danielle Parks, Customer Impact Editor

Mystery shopping is not only about the timings and the food. It is also about the employees themselves. As a shopper, you might feel a little uneasy about reporting on the people. Although that is an understandable reaction, you should know that all of the information being asked about is what the client wants to hear.

This not only goes for the service that the employee provided; it also goes for the descriptions of the employees. When you are not able to name the employee, you are often times asked to describe the employee instead. This is because the client would like to know who is being talked about within the report.

But how do you know what kind of descriptions to include? There are, after all, thousands of ways to describe someone. How do you know you are providing information the client needs to know?

First, you should check other areas in the report that might explicitly ask for the employee’s description. For most of our clients, there is a description grid toward the top of the form that has drop down options for the different descriptors. The client may also list the descriptions they are looking for next to a text box where you can enter the information. Basing the descriptions you provide for other employees off of these areas is always a safe bet. If the client asks for it in one area, they would welcome that same type of information elsewhere.

Sounds great, but what if there is no description grid or list? You would then do best to provide a full description, but one that most clients would accept. In my experience, this is gender, age, height, hair color, and if the employee was wearing glasses. Not all clients ask for things like the race of the employee, which brings me to my next point. If the client does list the different descriptions they are looking for, be sure to ONLY provide that information. They are telling you exactly what they want, and your job is to provide that to them.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you should limit the descriptions to the facts. Just like the rest of the report, there is not much room for opinion. Things like “pretty” or “happy” should not be included. Also, you should ask yourself if any of the descriptions are offensive. Describing someone as overweight or as someone with facial acne (yes, I have seen both descriptions multiple times) would only serve to potentially offend someone. Why do so when it is not necessary?

So how specific are we talking? We fully understand that asking for a stranger’s age can seem too picky. However, just providing an age range (20’s) is sufficient. We would not expect you to know their specific age. The same goes for height. Your best guess is acceptable. The description grids actually provide a choice of height ranges (5’6” – 5’11”) for you to choose from. We also understand that you might not have been able to get a certain employee’s description. For example, what if the food runner serves from behind you, and you never see them fully? Unless specifically asked for, you do not need to provide such an employee’s information. This is where reading the form before you perform your shop helps, so you can be prepared during your shop to describe the employees as required.

What do you think about the reports requiring descriptions for the employees? Do you think it goes overboard on mystery shopping, or do you think it’s important for a client to know who did what? Comment below!