Hello fellow shoppers, I am new to all this and I can't figure out how anyone can take more than 2 shops at a time and not spend 6 or more hours on writing reports??? What am I doing wrong?? Are there any tricks or tips to this new found journey I am embarking on?? I know there are sample sheets, but it still takes me 4 ever to write my reports.. I guess maybe because I am so far removed from writing?? I dunno, but I sure would like to pick someone's brain cause I was born to shop, but these reports are tedious. Maybe I am too anal.. I'd appreciate any advice. Oh and BTW, I am in my mid 50s so my brain doesn't work quite like it used to!!! Somebody, anybody, HELP!!
I try and avoid the narrative heavy shops that do not pay much. As you do more jobs with more companies you will find those. It is pretty much a learning experience and a lot of times you have to kiss many toads to find a prince. Nature of the business. If you are doing a fast food shop and it is taking you a long time to fill in the report you are probably giving too much information. Just the facts please.
I try to do an efficient narrative job, include all the pertinent facts, and explain "nos". Occasionally, the report will be returned for more information. This will happen! It will only take a few minutes to fix, and the editor tells you exactly what she needs. Try to have a good day!
I have shopped for eight years. I have never taken hours to do a report. The way I do a narrative is to answer every question in order on the report. Yes and No answers. Add in the times if necessary and additional information if requested.
I have always received a 9 or 10 most of the time. Always Save your work before spellcheck. Re-read for paragraphs. Be sure to use quotes on greeting and departing.
Start with easy shops, make notes immediately after in your car away from the area. Banking shops seem to be the easiest to start. Read Guidelines and make notes on your paper work previous to your shop. Review the samples that the Mystery Shopping Companies give you.
Maybe it was my previous training as a journalist but I find I can cover 9 narratives with exact quotes in a half hour's time. I got used to a howling editor demanding so many column inches with only 20 minutes to produce it. Much will come as you get more accustomed to the expectations and requirements of the shops. I've been at this for 21 years now and can finally do over 20 shops in a day but it takes quite a bit of practice.
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If you have a lot of things to look up on your notes, such as timings, just go down and fill in things such as day/date, yes/no, upload photograph(s), then put in the timings and write in all the narratives. When it has been a few hours since it was done, I find that that method helps me remember details. That way, I never overlook the narrative for a no answer. Since the method I use to scroll sometimes changes a yes answer to a no answer, I can catch that, too. I don't feel like it took a long time when I do that.
Like the others have already said, this is a learning process like anything else when you're a newbie. If writing is not your forte, look for the jobs that don't require a lot of it. I'm guilty of adding more information than they want and work hard to avoid doing this. Let them ask for more information, and don't bother wasting time providing what they may not want or need.
Baby cakes -
Take a few low paying, zero-narrative fast food shops. Try a single-narrative shipping shop. Maybe they'll be more your speed.
Ask your scheduler for a sample report to see how much narrative the reports that you're doing actually are looking for.
Try paraphrasing instead of quotes and try a lot less detail. If an editor requests more, it will be a little extra time to provide it. If it's accepted, you've saved time on every subsequent report. Trial and error with a goal of minimizing your investment of time/effort.
I love doing narratives personally, and so the very first thing I do is I write down my entire experience first. Then while all of the details are fresh in my mind I begin the report adding details such as times, etc. In the areas where it may ask, "how were you greeted" I write a simple sentence or two, with the details of it in the narrative I had already written.
Thanks everyone for all of your input, greatly appreciate it. I took a little something from everyone's reply, and to be honest I am doing just about everything everyone suggested.. Long story short, I believe I am giving too much information as though I'm writing a novel, ha, that would take years!! I really need to tone it down I guess. I will say all of my scores have been 9&10s, but it's probably way too much information.... Practice makes perfect, I think??
It takes me a long time, too. But a lot of it is getting to know a particular shop. When you do the same one a few times, you know what to put and don't have to spend so much time checking that you covered everything. So....it gets a little easier. I find making a template in advance helps, too.
Thanks to all the forum members!
Baby cakes, I am in the same boat with you. I've been doing this 13 months. The reports can take hours, and I don't think I'm giving too much information. They often want to know exactly what was said and shown to you and if you give all that info it takes a long time. I don't think I'd have the nerve to copy out all the questions and put them in a narrative as someone suggested above, at least not without adding a lot of my own words. Even when I've offered oodles of info, I sometimes get back requests for more details! Just to type the quotes from my recordings and get timings on everything is time consuming, and I'm a very fast typist! Mostly I don't take more than two shops a day, and I've never done more than 5 shops in a day. The only time I do more than two have been bank shops where I had to just make simple inquiries and get some materials. If the bank officers keep you waiting, it can cut into your time a lot, unexpectedly. Even some of the fast food shops can take a long time with all the questions.
The advice above is cool, but you can't normally tell how narrative heavy a shop will be until you've already accepted it, at least the first time you work for a company. But you can figure out after one shop that it's usually a MSC's style to be narrative heavy after you've done one for them. Of course, the MSC wants to give the client more than they're paying the shopper for if they can get it. What some of them ask for, for $10-15 is beyond comprehension.
I've seen $11 cell phone shops with over a hundred questions before.
On the positive side, turning in well written and detailed reports will often get you better paying shop and bonus offers down the road.
You will find a lot of the experienced shoppers given only what is absolutely required in the narrative. I remember when I first started using this forum one of the experienced shoppers saying to keep it short. I took that advice and it has served me well. Only a handful of times have I had a report returned for more information. It felt strange at first so it does take some getting used to. Might save you a teeny bit of time too if you cut down on the double question marks
I have done retail, car shops, automotive, apartment and casual dining. I have even done a few from home(phone). There has to be an easier way to write!! I think I'm writing too much info, but I am getting 9&10 grades. Well I should Cause it feels like I'm writing a novel lol!!!
I am doing all the above!! I haven't done a bank shop yet.. Mostly retail, automotive, car sales, and apts.. After reading all the replys, they are all heavy narrative. Go figure.. I'm just trying to find an easier softer way, not!! Thanks for your input!
When I first started and wrote too much I started taking out some items to see if the report was returned. It never was and that gave me a more concise idea of what they were looking for and what was just "fluff." My reports got shorter, more concise and faster and they were not returned. You do not need a novel when a sentence will suffice, you just have to figure out the right sentence.
Baby cakes Wrote:
> Thanks everyone for all of your input, greatly
> appreciate it. I took a little something from
> everyone's reply, and to be honest I am doing just
> about everything everyone suggested.. Long story
> short, I believe I am giving too much information
> as though I'm writing a novel, ha, that would take
> years!! I really need to tone it down I guess. I
> will say all of my scores have been 9&10s, but
> it's probably way too much information....
> Practice makes perfect, I think??
Have you ever typed your heart out, had a great report and you submit it and it says 500 characters only! So you have to dwindle it down, little by little, without leaving out all your great work
LOL. I have totally had that happen. More than once in the early days. That told me that I was way too thorough.
> Have you ever typed your heart out, had a great
> report and you submit it and it says 500
> characters only! So you have to dwindle it down,
> little by little, without leaving out all your
> great work
> LOL. I have totally had that happen. More than
> once in the early days. That told me that I was
> way too thorough.
> > Have you ever typed your heart out, had a great
> > report and you submit it and it says 500
> > characters only! So you have to dwindle it
> > little by little, without leaving out all your
> > great work
I think the clients actually love reading our narratives. For them, it's like they are right there with us in the store!
Save the narratives from your shops as word or notepad in with your records of pictures (receipts, etc.).
Name them in a convention so that you can find them if you need clarification from an editor or so you can reuse the narrative FORMAT again (keep in mind I say format as you don't want copy/paste verbatim from one shop to another as that is a fraud red flag). You will want to copy the information to a new doc and save for your new shop. It usually goes much quicker if you do this and just change the names, times, exact greeting, etc. This way you don't forget to include something important either (assuming the previous shop went good, this one will as it will include the same types of information modified for the newer assignment).
I usually save the narratives with a name like 07142014 Marsh, Zionsville, narrative. It goes in the same folder on my laptop as 07142014 Marsh, Zionsville, receipt and any other pics I have for the same assignment.
Shopping across Indiana but mostly around Indianapolis.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/14/2014 03:45PM by lbw1000.
When I started I wrote narratives that provided almost every detail of the shop. After getting frustrated with the time required, I took the advice of the experienced shoppers in this forum. I started answering the questions that were asked and became more concise in my answers. My shop reports went from 9s and 10s with comments like - Wow, your detail was amazing!" to 9s and 10s with comments like "good report". I found out I appreciated those "your amazing" comments more when they came from family members and not editors.
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Some companies will tell you they want 4 sentences. I try to stay around that for narrative . Some shops will require more and especially those that have 8 yes/no questions and then one narrative section at the end--but generally those are 6-8 sentences. I have all 9/10 ratings too.
Babycakes, I record everything on my dvr and enjoy the meals. Then I upload to my laptop and listen one time to the playback and extract quotations--not all of them, just the best quotes. Then I fill in with exposition and straight facts, using short sentences, between the quoted text. Takes me less than 30 minutes. I'm experimenting with Dragon software, too. While I listen to the playback on my headphones I speak the words that I want to quote, and Dragon types it for me. I use a high-end mic with Dragon. I get 10s on my reports. I'm convinced it has to do with the heavy use of quoted dialog that I use. The MSC knows that I have the recording so maybe they don't question me. Also I follow this process when shopping USPS. I have done 40+ USPS and have a 10 score on each report. It's the quotes they love. And I don't have to think so hard when writing. This is also the process some magazine writers use, which is where I got it. You just tape the subject talking then playback and write aroung the most memorable quotes.
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Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/17/2014 01:39AM by aggiejim72.