By Amanda Hendrix-Black, Customer Impact Editor

Everyone in the business of mystery shopping knows that the finer details are key to being successful. Some of the shoppers with the most experience and highest scores are meticulous and very organized. It is not uncommon for shoppers to record their visits, use stop watches, and make private notes during the shop. Some even keep detailed binders full of notes to review before performing any mystery assignment. From an editor’s end, these things sound great! But we are also thinking: This shopper has their whole shop recorded. What could go wrong? Sometimes, a lot!

The finer details of a shop don’t stop at the ordering instructions, and they also don’t stop when you’re answering the questionnaire. In fact, the finer details are even finer than you might think, and they are what keep mystery shop editors busy from 8:30 to 5:00. So, what are these “finer details” I speak of? You’re in luck. I’ve made a little cheat sheet for all of you dutiful shoppers out there who are looking to increase you shop scores and the accuracy with which you complete your reports. Head to toe.

Times and Receipts

1. Always make sure that your times have the correct AM/PM designation. We’re pretty sure you didn’t have Chips and Queso, a House Sirloin, a slice of Strawberry Cheesecake at 6 am, but hey, we could be wrong!

2. Your total bill should always include your tip. This isn’t missed by most seasoned shoppers, but it does come up from time to time.

3. Before doing anything with your receipt, ask yourself these questions:

a. Does this receipt have a list of the items I ordered?

b. Does this receipt have my name and the amount of tip I left written on it?

c. Yes and yes? Upload it!



 Image Credit


Employee Names and Descriptions

1. Since most of these are drop down menus, the only part that is open to interpretation is the “Name” blank. You have 3 options:

a. The employee’s name

b. “Unknown” if you saw the employee but don’t have their name (NOTE: Always capitalize Unknown in the blank)

c. “N/A” if you did not see the employee at all (NOTE: Always capitalize N/A in the blank)

Phone Call, Host, Server/Bar, and Manager Sections

1. If you have the name of an employee, use it at least once in each paragraph.

2. Use paragraphs. The guidelines provide fabulous examples of what those should look like.

3. Use quotes only if someone says something crazy. Then we can all laugh about it. Otherwise, we don’t need to know that Susie said, “Hi, guys. How are y’all?” We just need to know that she greeted you.

4. Try to avoid using exact times, as in, “We received our appetizer at 6:42 p.m.” Time lapses (4 minutes and 45 seconds) are much easier for the client to interpret.

5. If you need to refer to someone that joins you on a shop, you’ve got a few options:

a. Partner

b. Companion

c. Guest

6. RESPOND TO THOSE NO ANSWERS! If the question reads, “The associate was friendly, smiled, and made eye contact,” and your answer is no, then you need a sentence that says, “Susie was friendly, but she rarely made eye contact,” or something along those lines.


1. When entering the names of the items you ordered in the correct blanks, the proper menu name of each item should be capitalized. Instead of hot chx wings, use Hot Chicken Wings.

2. This capitalization rule does not just apply to the blanks. It also flows over into your comments.  Instead of, “The chicken fried steak did not taste good,” use, “The Chicken Fried Steak did not taste good.” Get it? Got it? Good!


1. Just remember:

a. Exterior

b. Interior

c. Atmosphere

d. Restrooms

Mystery shopping is serious business. People have recording ball point pens in their bags and video recorder buttons on their shirts. They’ve got binders and folders and separate email accounts and the whole shebang! But it does not matter how many dividers you have or gadgets you’ve got, if you don’t give credit to the finer details, your shop, your score, and the company can suffer. So keep this handy list in mind, and always remember the finer details of mystery shopping! For more information about becoming a mystery shopper or hiring a mystery shopping company, please visit our website.



Featured Image by FreeDigitalPhotos