5 Ways to Write Good Reports (that have little to do with writing)

calendarYou’ve traveled far and wide today to conduct several mystery shops. After hours of observation, driving, wolfing down a fast food meal that doesn’t fit in with your summer swim suit plans, and purchasing a $5 trinket that you had to come with an excuse to return 30 minutes later, you now have to write up your reports.

There are some shoppers who are kind enough to let the mystery shopping company know they’ve completed their shop. They send an email or leave a voice mail saying “I’m done.”  Then they flip on the television and get caught up in Dancing with the Stars or turn on their tablet and become fascinated with cat videos.

The mental break is needed – we know!

But… they have this sense that they are ‘done’ since they contacted the mystery shopping company and forget about writing the report.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t help either the MSC or our client to know you completed the shop on time. Having a submitted report with details of your experience is what is considered a completed shop.

We understand your work is hard and you are tired – but not until we have your report can we consider processing your payment.

Here are 5 tips on getting your reports done efficiently, quickly and in on time!

  1. Don’t overbook. No one can shop and drive for 7 hours, complete 4 shops and return home to write up four fantastic reports filled with useful information. Acknowledge the time it takes to drive, conduct the shop and write up the report – and schedule accordingly.
  2. Take notes after each shop. Whether you write on a pad or paper, plug info into your phone or tablet or create a voice message, record as many of the details – especially those specific to the questions on the report – immediately after you conduct the shop. What is best is to have a printed copy of the report form to write answers next to. If you do this after each shop, when you return to your computer, you will not have to tax your memory… just your fingers as they type.
  3. This is your job- treat it like one. When you sit down to write up your reports make everyone around you aware that you are ‘working’ and are not to be interrupted unless it is life-threatening. Eliminate the distractions and disruptions, and you will get that report completed in no time.
  4. Don’t copy and paste. If you happened to luck out with a string of shops for the same store (makes it easy to remember what to do and look for!) – do NOT try to save time by copy and pasting your comments from the first report with the intent to ‘change it up a bit”. Time and again our reviewers find that shoppers forget to change names and circumstances. It will take you far more time and cost you much more in pay to revise several reports then it will to be original in each of your comment boxes from the get-go.
  5. Ask for an extension – and honor it! Even if you just need a few more hours, send the email or leave the voice mail to your scheduler or account manager. We live real lives too. We do ‘get it’. But if we don’t know that you intend to finish it by noon today, we will have to send that annoying ‘where is it’ email’ and leave a note in your file. Inform the MSC that you know you will be late, when you will have it completed and then get it done and submitted on time.

No matter what your line of work, there are always expectations about what needs to be done and limitations as to what can be done. Make sure yours line up before you schedule a shop so that your completed product – your report – is a reflection of the hard-working, customer experience expert that you are!

Let us know your methods of writing and submitting reports efficiently and well-written. Sharing your tips means you care about the success of others too!

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About Market Viewpoint

Market Viewpoint offers comprehensive mystery shopping services, complete customer service audits, employee and customer surveys, customer focused marketing strategies, and customer service training to help you improve your customer service and outshine your competition.
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13 Responses to 5 Ways to Write Good Reports (that have little to do with writing)

  1. Shara Hemdan says:

    Ouch! This was for me! I definitely overbook quite often and was thinking about this on the way back from one of my many shops today and saying to myself (and the universe), “I’ve got to fix this.” So I come and read this….Law of attraction! Confirmation that I’m becoming my best self. Thanks for writing this….I needed it!

  2. David Mayo says:

    I have a memory like an elephant. It is in my pocket. I click on my voice recorder before I leave the car.I look at my watch which is set with the world clock. If it differs from the time on the receipt and the real time.that may cause a misunderstanding I note the real time in my report and let the client choose which time they will use. I do not turn the recorder off until I exited the parking lot or I am driving down the road.after the shop.

    If the report requires elapsed time between events that occur during the shop there will be some noise or will say something that will mark the exact second.

    I know the MSC and editor may not believe me but the details are indisputable. There are companies I will not work for as I work on the principle, “cheat me once shame on you. Cheat me twice, shame on me”.

    There are managers and employees who have something to lose.if I report a negative and dispute reality I report. I am not biased, I have no reason to make false statements. I feel the manager or employee have something to gain as the employer should use my report to effect a “teaching moment”. or reward the employee if they are doing an exemplary job.

    Having been an entrepreneur I appreciate feed back from people who comment on my work product. I get excited when people call me crazy and tell me, “that will never work. I am in great company. The same people who have no vision told Thomas Edison his electric candle would never work and told the wright Brothers “only birds fly”. You will kill yourselves in that flying machine.

  3. Sandy Meriwether says:

    I, too, have a great memory. However, I usually complete the on site visits of a number of shops each day and could easily confuse which associate belongs to each location. The voice recorder in my smart phone is not obvious and can be left on the desk or counter between us. If we are walking around it still picks up enough of the interaction to enhance my memory. I do numerous video shops using my ForestFish sunglasses camera. I live in Arizona where it is not unusual to see sunglasses everywhere, inside and outside. On some non-video apartment shops I still use these to record accurate details of the community.
    Some days I travel a good many miles and my brain simply won’t work when I get back to my computer. If I can see this is going to be a problem I advise my scheduler in advance. When something unexpected comes up I let them know the on-site is complete and I will submit the report the next morning. I have yet to experience a negative response as long as I COMMUNICATE.

    • Sandy – your last word says it all. As long as we all communicate, there can be no misunderstanding. That does not mean that we will all be happy all the time, but we will at least have tried to work out a solution together. Thanks!

  4. I always try to use the report form to write down my answers immediately after a shop. It would be nice if the mystery shopping companies would let us print the form prior to a shop. Also, I like to know what store I am doing the mystery shop for BEFORE I commit to performing the shop. Some companies don’t let me know what store I am going to unless I agree to do the shop. I find this dumb. I want to know the store before I agree to perform a shop.

    • Susan – there are privacy reasons that some MSC’s do not ‘advertise’ the name of the company for which you will be shopping in the solicit. However, after being assigned, you always have the option of declining quickly if it is a store you would prefer to not shop. On most of the platforms (Sassie, Prophet) if you read the guidelines, then you will have access to the form and can print it off before the shop. If you can’t print it off, I would suggest you contact your scheduler to find out why. Thanks for adding to the conversation!

  5. Angela says:

    If you want to pick up a shop and there is no company name, there is usually an address. If I am “ify” about a shop I will google the address and 9 times out of 10 the store name will pop up which allows me to decide if I can do it or not. Google definitely comes in handy.

    • Great suggestion, Angela! Yes, with today’s technology and a little investigating, most times you can determine where the shop is being done. We, as Mystery Shop Company owners, try our best to protect the privacy of our client, but we have to give some information to our shoppers! Thanks so much for commenting.

  6. Rev Dr Bruce McCabe says:

    My best idea to make the days shops as easy as possible after each shop ends, is to go a block or two from the shop and write down the names, times, and anything important I found during the shop, the things that tend to get mixed up doing several shops in the same day, then I don’t have to try to juggle my thoughts as to what event went to what shop as I start the reports, the usual things that are the same within each shop, You don’t have to write down as they tend to stay the same and you will easily remember these anyway.but those things that are different tend to change and can easily get confused unless you have them wrote down after each shop.
    Having a copy of the report is also a valuable tool to have with you, you will have an idea as to what you need to look for and report as well as not having to remember several different moments of your shops at the end of the day.

    • Thank you so much for sharing your tips and advice. Taking as many notes as possible as soon as possible after your shop is key to remembering and to mystery shopping success. We wish you continued success in your business.

  7. Pingback: Writing Mystery Shopping Reports for Grandma! | Market Viewpoint

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