In the end, no matter how great a job you did at mystery shopping, it won't come through if you don't write a truly excellent and thorough report. This means writing everything down with precision and clarity. It also helps to write something in a way that makes it easy to read. These skills are hard for some people, so it is worth considering who actually reads these reports and what that person expects from a mystery shopper.
According to Mystery Shoppers Manual, the first stop on your report's journey is with a quality reviewer. This person just looks to see whether you hit all the right stops and asked all the appropriate questions. The bare minimum to pass through this reviewer is writing down everything you were supposed to write down - make sure when you go through your report before submitting it that you nailed every timing spot and answered every question. Ensure you present the necessary comments on quality, and don't forget to write narratives.
Since the first stage is only a matter of making sure the report is complete, your initial task as a writer is relatively simple. However, this also speaks to the importance of following the guidelines for your mystery shopping very carefully. Don't make anything up, but instead just come clean if you forgot to do something or went at the wrong time of day.
The checker works for your agency, so if you need to add more information, it will be your agency that contacts you to ask for more info.
What happens next
Once your report is approved, it goes to the business that requested the shop. This is intended to happen quickly because the client needs information as soon as possible. The company will analyze this report very thoroughly. Sometimes the numbers you wrote down for timing issues will be pooled with other mystery shopping reports. Information will definitely be cross-referenced with the time of day and the people who work at the store.
If you named anyone in the report, then that person may be contacted, according to Mystery Shoppers Manual. This applies to both good and bad performances. Ultimately, the mystery shopper's duty is to be as honest as possible. Don't whitewash things or make anything up.
Tips for writing a great report
After thinking of what the agency and the client both want, it becomes clear that writing with precision and detail will be the most important steps. Business Management Daily recommends people use active verbs and avoid using too many adverbs. This is good advice, and one could go further and recommend avoiding the use of adjectives in general. Instead of saying, "the store smelled bad," say, "the store smelled like burning plastic." Bad is an adjective that could mean anything, but burning plastic could suggest there is a problem with the ventilation system. Avoiding adverbs and adjectives often forces a person to be more specific and direct with language.
Another thing to try to nail down is the timing during a shop. Really get accurate numbers for this. You could either use your watch or your phone, depending on which would be less suspicious.
Another good piece of advice is to avoid doing what Entrepreneur calls burying the lede. This means that if you have a point to make about a store, don't try to imply this point, just say it outright. This avoids the kind of writing like, "the room was messy, and I felt like people were lazy about it." Instead write, "The hangers were in a state of disarray, and although I was in the store for two hours, no one fixed them. My impression was that they are always like that, and people don't bother to fix them." This is stating how you feel more directly and precisely than being suggestive about what you want people to think. Don't waste time implying things. Just say them in a concrete way.