Writing the reports

Ever feel like the MSP leads you to change your answer so they can submit a positive shop to the client? For example, the employee looked at me and smiled for a second but the interaction felt mechanical. They did not give additional eye contact or smile after our interaction was done. The question asks if I felt it was genuine so of course I said no and explained it in my narrative. So they told me they omitted my comment so it doesn’t look negative to the employee. There are also times when I’ve asked a second question in order to allow the employee to respond positively because the first impression was not positive. I know each client is different but this place is supposed to be known for the “friendliest store” in my state. First time hearing this from an MSP. I am not going out of my way to look for the negatives. Just stating what happened.

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An MSC I do work for uses my objective facts and they rewrite my report to "soften" the negatives and expound on the positives. They actually send me a copy of the revised reports.

When I first started shopping for them, I was bothered by this. Now, I do my part, let them do their part, and we'll both get paid.

"There's so much trouble in this world; surrounded by miracles" - Citizen Cope


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/29/2019 10:40AM by HonnyBrown.
It's not a shop, but the cashier at the grocery store has to ask if I collect points, want bags, and offer the deal of the week.
She must do that 100 times a shift.
Routine or mechanical? A fine line I think. Polite, is what matters to me.

Anyway, that is my thought when I have that question on a shop. I will rarely consider a brief smile and brief eye contact mechanical.
Over five months, some years back, I completed seven Chipotle shops. The report, which was to me the epitome of repetition, was one I detested. For my final assignment, what I had composed was inadvertently returned to me; I was stunned to read that my composition had been reduced to a babbling of "Dick and Jane" staccato phrases. Yes, it was the MSC's prerogative to take that action, but if that was what they wanted, my efforts were totally unnecessary. I easily could have whipped out such in no time, as opposed to laboring to provide an intelligent recount of the job. I weighed my options, decided we were not a good fit and deactivated my account.
I work hard on my narratives. If they are being changed to babble I don't want to know it. I expect them to be edited to suit the MSC but hopefully they are not being reduced to "Dick and Jane staccato phrases." (Good description).
I am not looking for faults I just answer the questions honestly. Like Prince I consider almost any smile to be genuine unless steely eyes accompany it.
I agree with CoffeeQueen. I pride myself on providing well-written narratives, and if they are reduced to "Dick and Jane" phrases [an excellent description], I would rather not know about it. It truly is a shame that this discussion even has to exist.
I too accept brief eye contact and a smile as 'friendly'. I WISH my grocery store did not require the cashier to circle the 'amount you saved' and the 'survey for a $500 gift card' because it just wastes my time whether I am next in line or trying to leave the register. It makes me want to say something cynical such as, 'I didn't SAVE that, I would not have purchased it if it weren't on sale'.

Depending on the client/MSP, a lot of reports need to be written in Dick and Jane simplicity as the "narrative" is nothing more than a reaffirmation of the check boxes--especially the 'no' answers in the check boxes. Can you imagine the District Manager faced with several hundred reports to be read where a novella was written for each?
@Flash wrote:


Depending on the client/MSP, a lot of reports need to be written in Dick and Jane simplicity as the "narrative" is nothing more than a reaffirmation of the check boxes--especially the 'no' answers in the check boxes. Can you imagine the District Manager faced with several hundred reports to be read where a novella was written for each?

Exactly. It's a business report. Some shoppers write like it's a creative writing class, or they include a lot of opinions and subjective statements. I'm sure I probably did all of the above when I was a new shopper. What the shopper thinks is valuable to the client is not always what is actually valuable to them. We see that in one of the other threads about when you want to report on an aspect that isn't part of the shop, which is super relatable to me as a shopper! But the same thing can happen with narratives where you include comments on things that do not need to be commented on (or at least not in the way you commented on them).

This is at least 75% of an editor's job, at least for narrative-heavy companies. A shopper's job is to complete a shop in accordance with the guidelines and communicate what happened during the shop, since they were the one who was there. An editor's job is to get any missing info and refine the report so that it is presentable to the client. There's no reason to complicate a shopper's job by adding extra rules, so the editor usually has more info than the shopper, including extra client-specific guidelines, direction on what the client is looking for with certain questions/sections, etc. For example, the company I mainly edit for doesn't even want the reports to contain the word "very." There is no reason to try to make shoppers keep track of things like that in addition to everything else they have to keep track of.

Happily shopping the Pacific Northwest. Shopping since 2013 smiling smiley
As far as changing answers, many shoppers mismark answers...a LOT. Maybe there are some sleazy MSCs that change legitimate negative answers to appease the client, but in most cases, it's really just a combination of another set of eyes reading your report and the extra info the editor is aware of. Also, sometimes, a shopper might feel something should be marked "no," but the facts of the report show it shouldn't be.

Anyway, there's really no reason to worry about it. The editors for most MSCs give feedback if there's anything you can improve on for future reports. Beyond that, just keep doing what you're doing! It's great that you care so much about the quality and content of your report, but at the same time, there's no point in worrying about aspects of the process you can't control or change. We all work together for the end results of a solid, high-quality report and everybody getting paid. smiling smiley

Happily shopping the Pacific Northwest. Shopping since 2013 smiling smiley
There are way too many times I write in paragraphs on a first time report where there is a large narrative box. Then when I go to submit suddenly the report tells me it only wants 50-100 characters. Why can't they tell you that up front and not waste the shoppers time.
As much as I would hate to see one of my shops chopped down to staccato answers I would appreciate that feedback for future reports.
One scenario that annoyed me was I had a phone shop to order a product from a website. I called a few times, over a few different days, and kept getting a recording saying they weren't open and it would hang up. There was no "press 0 to speak to an operator" or leave a message option, and it was confirmed on the greeting this is the same business I was evaluating. I emailed the scheduler and she said just keep trying at different times. The due date came so I filled out the survey with all "no's" and negatives. The scheduler wrote back: YOU CAN'T JUST SUBMIT AN EMPTY REPORT. (emphasis hers) The report got reset and I finally got through, so I did the evaluation as assigned. The client got a seemingly positive report without any notification that they were unreachable for days.
@RedRose22 wrote:

For example, the company I mainly edit for doesn't even want the reports to contain the word "very." There is no reason to try to make shoppers keep track of things like that in addition to everything else they have to keep track of.

I think I know which one that is, and in my humble opinion I think they are quite clear about that in their "Recourse Center" or "Tutorial" which they encourage new shoppers to read. But yeah, a year in shoppers may forget about that peculiar rule, especially if they are shopping with shopping with lots of different companies.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 07/02/2019 04:22PM by Crunchynerd.
@jtrinidad2002 wrote:

Ever feel like the MSP leads you to change your answer so they can submit a positive shop to the client?

I've only had it happen twice (to my knowledge, at least) from hundreds - if not thousands - of shops.

My situation wasn't exactly like that, however. In both cases, the editor/scheduler removed comments I made about not being sure of the timing and occurrence of an event, respectively. I said in the report that I wasn't sure if such and such took place, due to various reasons, but made best guesses.

In both cases, the editor/scheduler said they removed those uncertainty comments. One said the thing wasn't a big deal and wouldn't matter in the big scheme of things to the client, so even if I got it wrong from memory, they wouldn't care much. ....Ummmm.....okkkkkkayyyy....maybe?

It still feels like semi-lying to me, but I did not protest. I was confused about what to do actually. I actually offered to redo the shop for one of them, but the scheduler brushed that idea off.

It's a tough situation. Both happened very early in my shopping career and I let things slide. Thankfully, I haven't had anything like that ever happen again. I'm not sure how I'd respond if it did. Should I say it's lying? Should I talk to a higher up, etc.?
@jtrinidad2002 wrote:

Ever feel like the MSP leads you to change your answer so they can submit a positive shop to the client? For example, the employee looked at me and smiled for a second but the interaction felt mechanical. They did not give additional eye contact or smile after our interaction was done. The question asks if I felt it was genuine so of course I said no and explained it in my narrative. So they told me they omitted my comment so it doesn’t look negative to the employee.

I've also said this multiple times in the past, but I use ACL's guidelines for "friendliness" when I'm unsure.

ACL says if there is not blatant rudeness, then you can mark something as friendly. I've spoken to an editor about this there and she explained that so much of "friendliness" can be subjective. If you don't see or hear something blatantly rude, then you can just feel free to mark it as friendly.

I think that's not a bad policy to use when unsure. Unless they report asks if the greeting/smile was mechanical - which some DO! - then I'd personally feel comfortable with this standard.
Even then it's hard to tell....some people have what's scientifically known to be "resting b.tch face." grinning smiley

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/02/2019 04:45PM by shoptastic.
On my latest Shake Shack visit there was substantial water in the bathroom under the towel dispenser (dozens of large drops), but not enough to make a solid puddle. I reported as such. The feedback I got from the editor thanked me for the information, but told me not to count off unless the water was 'significant'.

I thought I did!

Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product. Eleanor Roosevelt
I don't work hard on my narratives to write novellas. I work on getting the details right and not generalizing because that doesn't come naturally to me yet. The work I put into them is precisely what they say they want. That for me is work because I could write an operetta about the interactions and the dramatic undertones. Instead I keep it extremely detailed and dry.
@Crunchynerd wrote:

@RedRose22 wrote:

For example, the company I mainly edit for doesn't even want the reports to contain the word "very." There is no reason to try to make shoppers keep track of things like that in addition to everything else they have to keep track of.

I think I know which one that is, and in my humble opinion I think they are quite clear about that in their "Recourse Center" or "Tutorial" which they encourage new shoppers to read. But yeah, a year in shoppers may forget about that peculiar rule, especially if they are shopping with shopping with lots of different companies.

The one I'm talking about doesn't have a recourse center(?), but they have a section of the website with tips and examples. It sounds similar. You make a great point though - some MSCs have these sections, so the shoppers who are concerned about smaller details like that can look there for a better idea of what an ideal report is.

Happily shopping the Pacific Northwest. Shopping since 2013 smiling smiley


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/02/2019 06:34PM by RedRose22.
@RedRose22 wrote:

@Crunchynerd wrote:

@RedRose22 wrote:

For example, the company I mainly edit for doesn't even want the reports to contain the word "very." There is no reason to try to make shoppers keep track of things like that in addition to everything else they have to keep track of.

I think I know which one that is, and in my humble opinion I think they are quite clear about that in their "Recourse Center" or "Tutorial" which they encourage new shoppers to read. But yeah, a year in shoppers may forget about that peculiar rule, especially if they are shopping with shopping with lots of different companies.

The one I'm talking about doesn't have a recourse center(?), but they have a section of the website with tips and examples. It sounds similar. You make a great point though - some MSCs have these sections, so the shoppers who are concerned about smaller details like that can look there for a better idea of what an ideal report is.

Sorry - I meant a Resource Center! My bad, there is only one company I can recall that doesn't like "very" so I figured it must be them...
@shoptastic wrote:

@jtrinidad2002 wrote:

Ever feel like the MSP leads you to change your answer so they can submit a positive shop to the client?

I've only had it happen twice (to my knowledge, at least) from hundreds - if not thousands - of shops.

My situation wasn't exactly like that, however. In both cases, the editor/scheduler removed comments I made about not being sure of the timing and occurrence of an event, respectively. I said in the report that I wasn't sure if such and such took place, due to various reasons, but made best guesses.

In both cases, the editor/scheduler said they removed those uncertainty comments. One said the thing wasn't a big deal and wouldn't matter in the big scheme of things to the client, so even if I got it wrong from memory, they wouldn't care much. ....Ummmm.....okkkkkkayyyy....maybe?

It still feels like semi-lying to me, but I did not protest. I was confused about what to do actually. I actually offered to redo the shop for one of them, but the scheduler brushed that idea off.

The thing is, that people's jobs rely on your reports. If you cannot report something with certainty and back it up with supporting facts, then it did not happen. There are always limitations to memory. Part of the job is working to strengthen our ability to recall events and document them accurately. Still, when it comes time to compose your report, you can only include information about which you are certain. Sometimes that means giving back points. You should always err on the side of caution.

This is especially true when rating something like friendliness or professionalism. There are not absolute standards but you can cite facts. A "No" response on subjective questions is usually a mix with overwhelmingly negative aspects.

"The cashier was smiling and spoke in a warm tone until I asked if there were any extra sales or coupons. He frowned and began to speak in a hardened tone. He rolled his eyes and said, 'You're already getting 30% off. I don't know what else you want.' He then completed my transaction and placed the receipt in the bag. He pushed the bag forward and looked past me to greet the next customer with a smile. He said nothing to me in close. His behavior was unfriendly and unprofessional."

There are many ways to put this less clearly (or more clearly, tbh). There might also be a situation where someone appears to roll their eyes but then gives a helpful response. They were probably just thinking. It can be tough because you want to keep your reports concise but also provide all relevant information.

So I wouldn't worry too much about the honesty of the situation. It's just a shame that the editor couldn't give you more instruction relevant to your reporting style.
I probably overthink this. I recently saw a job on a job board for a business I'm very familiar with. The job was for a brand and model this business doesn't sell. Not only does not carry, but will not order for a customer!

I shot the scheduler an e-mail to let her know. I was actually surprised to get a very nice e-mail back, thanking me!

There's another one that's repeatedly on the job board as a "dine in" lunch/dinner, and same location for "drive thru" lunch/dinner. The location has neither option. You stand in line, order your food, stand in another line to pick it up, and leave. No drive thru. No seating. No customer restroom. The scheduler changes every month, so every month I send another e-mail. I usually don't get any response. When I shop the location, I put in EVERY comment box "This location does not have a restroom. It does not have dine-in. It does not have a drive thru." Over and over and over and over, ad nauseum. However, the report will not allow me to submit it without answering all the questions about the timings, the restroom, whether the dining room tables were clean, etc., etc., etc. So I have to lie, just to get the report to submit!

But every time I'm filling out the report, I truly wonder what the other shoppers are reporting for this location. If you cannot dine in, and you cannot drive thru, what ARE they reporting?

The other thing I think I'm overthinking is "Was there a sign for XXXX? If not, take a photo of the missing sign."

Huh?

I guess I intuitively know they MEAN take a photo of where the sign SHOULD BE, because truly, I CANNOT take a picture of the "missing sign". Because, daggnab doggone it, it AIN'T THERE!!!

Oh, and yes, I HATE reports.

And I enjoyed the "Dick and Jane" references. The "Dick and Jane" is EXACTLY the perfect example of "simple declarative sentences", which is exactly what editors want from us. I may be constitutionally incapable of writing a "simple declarative sentence", although I do know exactly what one is.

smiling smiley

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/04/2019 04:48PM by ceasesmith.
@1cent wrote:

@shoptastic wrote:

@jtrinidad2002 wrote:

Ever feel like the MSP leads you to change your answer so they can submit a positive shop to the client?

I've only had it happen twice (to my knowledge, at least) from hundreds - if not thousands - of shops.

My situation wasn't exactly like that, however. In both cases, the editor/scheduler removed comments I made about not being sure of the timing and occurrence of an event, respectively. I said in the report that I wasn't sure if such and such took place, due to various reasons, but made best guesses.

In both cases, the editor/scheduler said they removed those uncertainty comments. One said the thing wasn't a big deal and wouldn't matter in the big scheme of things to the client, so even if I got it wrong from memory, they wouldn't care much. ....Ummmm.....okkkkkkayyyy....maybe?

It still feels like semi-lying to me, but I did not protest. I was confused about what to do actually. I actually offered to redo the shop for one of them, but the scheduler brushed that idea off.

The thing is, that people's jobs rely on your reports. If you cannot report something with certainty and back it up with supporting facts, then it did not happen. There are always limitations to memory. Part of the job is working to strengthen our ability to recall events and document them accurately. Still, when it comes time to compose your report, you can only include information about which you are certain. Sometimes that means giving back points. You should always err on the side of caution.

I think there's some possible MAJOR MISUNDERSTANDING:

The editor did not remove everything. She/he kept my observations that I specifically said I was making an educated/calculated guess on (such as a timing once).

In other words, I said in the report that I was distracted or forgot to check for something, but believe x/y/z happened based on a/b/c and other circumstantial evidence.

The editor did not remove those shaky comments. Instead, he/she KEPT THEM, BUT REMOVED MY COMMENTS SAYING THEY WERE POSSIBLY INACCURATE.
@shoptastic wrote:


I think there's some possible MAJOR MISUNDERSTANDING:

The editor did not remove everything. She/he kept my observations that I specifically said I was making an educated/calculated guess on (such as a timing once).

In other words, I said in the report that I was distracted or forgot to check for something, but believe x/y/z happened based on a/b/c and other circumstantial evidence.

The editor did not remove those shaky comments. Instead, he/she KEPT THEM, BUT REMOVED MY COMMENTS SAYING THEY WERE POSSIBLY INACCURATE.

Ah, well, I appreciate the clarification. Sorry not to read more closely.

Anyway, that’s more reason to be careful what goes into a report. I almost understand an editor taking out statements of uncertainty. Kinda. It depends on context how much the report was affected.
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