MSPA's "Professional Industry Writing"

Let me start this by saying I am very new to all of this and probably research way more then I should! So, I am thankful for this forum! I have been able to do a lot of research before doing my first shop. Anyways- back to the "Professional Industry Writing."

I want to make sure I create well written reports and so I have been reading and searching for information on how to do this properly. I noticed on MSPA's site they offer all kinds of certificates, including this "Professional Industry Writing." According to the bit of reading the collective vote, to my understanding, is to not pay for extra certificates because most of the information can be found online. This particular one says, "Online Course - Details Coming Soon" so even if I wanted to take the course- it is not available.

My question(s) to the forum--

- Have you or would you pay for this particular (or similar) course?
- If you would- can you please explain why?
- If you think it can be skipped- can you please explain why?

Suggestions for creating well written reports would be very helpful for me.

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If you can write the post above, you can write well enough to write and MS report.

The keys are:
avoid most adverbs
be objective
never belittle anyone's looks
write the facts, just the facts, ma'am.
be specific, not just critical when you have to report something amiss.
Be specific, not gushy when you have something good to report.


Bad: The restroom was filthy and smelled.
Good: The restroom had stains on the floors and counters, paper litter on the floors and counters, and one clogged toilet that provided an unpleasant odor.

Bad: The host smiled, revealing misaligned teeth.
Good: The host greeted me with a smile.

The mashed potatoes were inedible
The mashed potatoes were served cold and had many lumps of partly cooked potato.

No: This was the best steak ever!
Yes: The steak was cooked medium rare, as ordered. It was tender and flavorful. I would order it again.

No: It took forever for the appetizer to arrive.
Yes: The appetizer was ordered at 6:17 PM. It was served at 7:00 PM. The server did not inform us of any delays during that time.

Okay, that should be the course in a nutshell. Run spell check; proof read for "word-os" ("stud" instead of study, for instance)

Enjoy

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
@shopslala wrote:

- Have you or would you pay for this particular (or similar) course?
- If you would- can you please explain why?
- If you think it can be skipped- can you please explain why?

Suggestions for creating well written reports would be very helpful for me.

Anyone who needs suggestions for creating well written reports should take this course and pay for it. I will skip it, because I have been mystery shopping for 7 years, I follow directions and get good editor marks, and I am almost never contacted by an editor for more information after completing a report. Anyone who is not confident should pay for the course and consider it an investment in their professional development.

As for suggestions for creating well written reports, many companies want different things. Generally speaking, most want mystery shoppers to remain completely anonymous and to do nothing to bring attention to oneself. Most want objectivity and they want the mystery shopper to describe what happened without making any assumptions or adding opinions. A lot of companies have sample narratives in their guidelines that show what they want.
If I were in your shoes, I would jump in and do a couple of shops and see how it goes. The MSPA course is unlikely to contain much more than I have provided above. When MSPA says "coming soon," most of us remember that the fix for their certification codes being accepted by most MSCs has been "coming soon," for a few years now. If you provide good report, are reliable, and follow the shop guidelines, you should be fine with any of the MSCs that others here advise new shoppers to start with.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
Use the report as your cue to create your narrative. Often it is nothing more than repeating back and elaborating on the questions asked. Always remember to address anything you answered as a "no." While it seems a no brainer when the question was something like, "Was the associate wearing a name tag," the narrative is used to reinforce your answers.

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.
Excellent point and an area that I did not think of when posting above.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
@walesmaven wrote:

If I were in your shoes, I would jump in and do a couple of shops and see how it goes. The MSPA course is unlikely to contain much more than I have provided above. When MSPA says "coming soon," most of us remember that the fix for their certification codes being accepted by most MSCs has been "coming soon," for a few years now. If you provide good report, are reliable, and follow the shop guidelines, you should be fine with any of the MSCs that others here advise new shoppers to start with.


That was actually my fear about the "coming soon." Especially after reading the forum- I was wondering how long does "coming soon" actually mean. You answered my question- thank you! Time to jump on in and shop!
@LisaSTL wrote:

Use the report as your cue to create your narrative. Often it is nothing more than repeating back and elaborating on the questions asked. Always remember to address anything you answered as a "no." While it seems a no brainer when the question was something like, "Was the associate wearing a name tag," the narrative is used to reinforce your answers.

Thank you, this is helpful as well.
@walesmaven wrote:

("stud" instead of study, for instance)

Have you been writing about me again?!?!?!

It all started at the border. And that's still where it is today. Someone killed Ramon Casiano. And the killer got away.
Whatever happened to Birdie? She could teach this class and probably for a lot less than the MSPA wants to charge. I'm guessing they'll offer it, and then offer Part II: Gold.

“Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot.” — Clarence Thomas
My advice to anyone who asks me about classes to improve their writing for shops is to suggest they take a writing course at the local community college. It's more about being comfortable with creating and presenting well-written work than any particular format that a group of MSCs might agree on.

I think that most of us know from the instruction sets we are given that writing is not always a particular forte of MSC operators, despite the fact that many can be so demanding. There's also no guarantee that all MSCs or even all MSPA MSCs will agree on the writing structure taught in the class.
Although not currently employed, I'm a writer with a journalism degree, so it comes pretty easily to me now, but that's after a lot of training and experience. I certainly have paid more than the cost of one course; I've paid thousands for my degree. I've had to "write tight" in my work. I've also bought many books and magazines on writing over the years, which taught me a lot.

If a course isn't going to break your budget, try it.

Or borrow a book from the library. Write some descriptions of shopping experiences and keep trying to pare them down without losing clarity.
I took English Composition at the local college while getting my Medical Transcription degree and Business English while getting my Health Information Technology degree. Steve's right, that was extremely helpful. You can take courses like that online and maybe get a whole semester's worth of knowledge instead of whatever the MSPA is going to offer. But I read your posts and think you'll do just fine without it.
My personal course:

1. Write complete sentences.

2. Avoid contractions.

3. Master the correct use of apostrophes, or rewrite the sentence to avoid their use -- hint: apostrophes are NEVER used to indicate plurals.

4. For MSCs (note the correct lack of apostrophe!) that offer "sample reports" and writing guidelines, master their unique requirements. My personal experience is that MSCs that require heavy narratives in their reports offer complete guidelines and writing samples.

5. Avoid colons and semi-colons. They seem to confuse editors!

6. Do not use "of" when the correct word is "have" - "I could of", "I would of" should properly be "I could have", "I would have".....

7. Accept that some editors are....let's be polite and say "incompetent". If you get dinged, as long as you get paid, let it go and move on.

smiling smiley

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/18/2017 08:19PM by ceasesmith.
@ceasesmith wrote:

If you get dinged, as long as you get paid, let it go and move on.

This should be the #1 rule.
These tips are excellent. I have two to add:
*Supporting 'no' answers is essential, but if you primarily have 'yes' answers, providing detail for those confirms you were observant and adds value to the report.
*Proofreading or reading your narratives out loud will catch errors.
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