By Steven Cooley, Customer Impact Editor

As an editor, part of my job involves providing feedback to shoppers on the reports that they submit, so that they can improve in the future. This benefits everyone; a shop that is written better requires less editing for us, which means we don’t have to contact the shoppers for revisions, which also helps the client get a better quality report, faster. I’ve also had new shoppers ask me what some common pitfalls are so that they can avoid them. Here are four ways to help ensure that you’ve written the best report you can.

1. Use correct spelling and grammar.

One thing I see a lot with new shoppers is that they aren’t sure how formal their comments should be. When in doubt, go with a more formal writing style. These reports are the product of your work as an independent contractor, so make sure the writing represents you in a professional manner. This means no text lingo and no slang. It also means your work should be free of spelling and grammar errors. Our reports feature a built-in spellcheck, which can catch lots of mistakes. It does not check for grammar errors, but you can use a word processor, like Microsoft Word, to check grammar, as well. Don’t forget to read over your comments to make sure they make sense. These tools are great, but sometimes only the human eye can catch certain kinds of mistakes!

2. Include the appropriate amount of detail.

Another common issue with new shoppers is not including enough detail, or including too much. This is made more confusing by the fact that different clients expect different things in their reports, and different Mystery Shopping Companies have different rules, too. At the end of the guidelines for all shops that you perform with us, we include a Sample Comments section that provides an example of what the client is looking for with regard to length, format, and amount of detail. This is a powerful tool that will help you find the balance between describing every single hand motion of an employee, and not providing enough information to explain what happened at all.

3. Be objective and factual.

The purpose of a mystery shop, for the most part, is not to share your opinions with the client. The purpose of a mystery shop is to give the client a good picture of what the average customer experiences at their business. Because of this, the comments you provide should be strictly factual, and should not include opinions unless the report specifically asks for an opinion. Also, make sure to avoid phrasing your comments as suggestions for the client. For example, instead of saying something like, “The floor should be swept,” please just state the fact: “The floor was dirty.”

4. Ask for help!

When all else fails, ask us for help! We’re here to help you. We’re available by email and by phone, so make sure to use us as a resource if you’re really stuck or confused about something with your report. Our phone number is 1-800-677-2260, and we’re available Monday-Friday, 8:30am-5:00pm Central Time.