By Danielle Parks, Customer Impact Editor

As an editor, I have come to understand that one of the most important parts of a mystery shopping report is the narrative that the shopper provides.  I have also come to understand that the narrative can be the part of the report that includes the most mistakes.  Here are some quick tips to keep in mind when writing the narrative for your report.


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1. Read over the Sample Comments that are provided on the guidelines for that shop.  These show exactly what the client is looking for in regards to length, detail, and format for each section.  Be sure to cover each step of the section in the comments while still following the length and format that is being asked for.

2. Be concise, yet thorough. A mystery shopping report is meant to streamline a lot of information so that the client can receive the important facts in a succinct and coherent manner.  For each sentence, make sure you are presenting the information the best possible way.  For example, instead of saying, “The server introduced himself as Aaron.  Aaron asked how we were doing,” you should instead condense this information to, “The server, Aaron, introduced himself and asked how we were doing.”  Any time you can make the sentences flow more easily, you should make the necessary changes.

3. Use the questions as a reference point, but do not simply repeat the questions.  The comments should reflect the information outlined in the questions, but the comments should be in your own words.  The client is not looking for copied and pasted information; they are looking for what happened as you experienced it.

4. Include positive and negative comments.  A mystery shop is not only to show where a company might be falling short of their standards; it is also to show where they shine.  As long as it is relevant to the section, include positive comments in your narratives.  It is also important to comment on all questions that you answer with a No, so that the client can have a brief explanation on what went wrong.

5. Proofread.  Always be sure that you have written in complete sentences and that you have used the proper punctuation.  Take a few moments to use Spell Check, but do not rely on it to catch everything.  Always read over your narratives with an editor’s eye, looking for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors.

What do you think about writing the narratives?  Do you have any strategies for making them both easier on you and on the client?

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