By Amanda Morrissey, Customer Impact Editing Manager

One of the most important parts of mystery shopping is anonymity. We all know that in the vast majority of cases, it is important that the establishment being evaluated is not aware that they are being evaluated.

It is not only important to maintain anonymity while you are completing the shop itself, but also when you are writing your report. We do not want the client to be able to read your report and remember exactly who you were.

Here are a few tips on how to remain anonymous.

Never use your name or that of anyone in your party in the comments.

This may seem obvious, but it is an easy mistake to make. Refer to the person dining with you as your partner, companion, or guest, instead of by name. If an employee addresses you directly by name, simply write something like, “The host addressed me by name,” rather than quoting exactly what was said and revealing yourself.

Avoid giving too much information about personal conversations with the staff.

It is great if you make a good connection with the server or sales person and have personal conversations with them. That is what brings customers back! However, the specifics of those conversations should not be mentioned in the report. For example, if you chat with your server about your children, their ages, where they go to school, then include those specifics in the shop comments, the server will be sure to remember you. That will affect your ability to continue completing those shops. Keep the reporting on something like that simple and brief, like, “We had a great personal conversation with the server, who created a good rapport with us.”

Do not give specifics about where you were seated.  

At times, we see comments like, “We were led to the third table on the right, against the wall, near the large chalkboard for the drink specials.” Specific details like this are just one more thing the client can use to identify you. Many clients check their shop reports against their videos, and this information allows them to find you right away and make note of your appearance. Unless there is an issue with your seating, avoid the specifics.

If you find that you personally know someone working at the establishment, please do not mention this in the narrative.

Obviously, if you are aware of the fact that someone you know is working at a particular place, you should not be completing mystery shops there. That said, it occasionally happens that a shopper is not aware of this and accidentally bumps into someone they know. We understand that this can happen, and we DO want you to let your scheduler know immediately in that situation. In the report itself, do your best to leave out the fact that you encountered someone that you know, as again, it will immediately take away your anonymity.

Do you have any other tips and tricks on how to keep your reports anonymous? We would love to hear from you!