How to write a good mystery shopper report

Perhaps the most important part of any mystery shopping job is the report that you turn into the client at the end.

Perhaps the most important part of any mystery shopping job is the report that you turn into the client at the end. This report is what you will be paid for. The client wants to know what happened while you were on assignment and your report is the only thing that will tell them what they want to know. Writing an accurate report is probably the most important thing you will do as a mystery shopper, but beyond accuracy there are plenty of things you can do to improve the reports that you write. 

Stay on topic
The client only cares about the job that they are paying you to do. If you stray in your report from the job you were hired for and write about other things, the off-topic portions of the report are useless to the client. A good way to stay on topic is to ask yourself why what you wrote is important. If you can't think of a reason the client would want to know the information you wrote down, then you probably didn't need to write it. Everything in your report should be pertinent to the job that you did. 

Get the names of staff and products right 
Few things are more frustrating than getting things or people confused. When writing a report, make sure you get the names of the staff you talked to right. This can be hard, but it is often required to get the names of the people who you interacted with. The same goes for products. Knowing the names of the products and people you interacted with will make the report easier to write. Pay attention to spelling. If you don't know the proper way to spell a name, find out, or at least stay consistent. Don't write "Sarah" one time and then a paragraph later write "Sara." Mistakes like that can confuse the client and the report may become unusable.

Show don't tell
You've probably heard an English teacher say this at some point. You want to show things in your writing instead of telling them. Rather than saying "Sarah is a terrible cashier," write: "Sarah didn't smile during our entire transaction. She cursed at the cash register when it didn't open right away, and she gave me the wrong change." Those details give the client a better idea as to why Sarah is not a good cashier. 

Stick to the clients requirements
When you take the job, you will  be given report requirements. These requirements can be anything, but most often they deal with things like word or character count or whether the report should be a summary or something more extensive and detailed. Whatever the client says they want, make sure you get it in the report. 

No unimportant details
Because mystery shoppers have an eye for detail, they notice a lot. However, not all of what they see needs to be in the report. If you're hired to go into a store in a mall to make a purchase at a specific clothing store, stating that the mall parking lot was very full probably isn't needed in the report. The person reading the report probably doesn't care about the mall parking lot. By keeping unnecessary details out of your report, you will provide the person reading the report with exactly what they need.  

Write in complete and clear sentences
Sentence fragments, abbreviations, and other oddities need to be omitted from your report. Write in complete and clear sentences, preferably concise sentences. Long sentences can cause problems when it comes to clarity, and if there is one thing you want to be in a mystery shopper's report, it's clear. 

Proofread
Once your report is written and you have everything you need in it, set it aside for a few minutes and take a break. Once you have taken a short break, read through your report carefully. Look for any spelling errors, grammatical errors or uncomfortable phrasing. Once again, clarity is the goal. Change any unclear sentences so that they can be easily understood. 

Edit
Proofreading is not editing. When you're proofreading you're looking for small, easy to overlook errors. When you're editing you should still keep an eye out for those errors, but also look at the overall report. Is the way you structured your report the best way to do so? Is it following the directions and requirements laid out by the client? While proofreading is about the small details of the report, editing is about the report as a whole.