The Dangers of Copy and Paste

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Jun 03, 2010 by Confero Inc.

Confero is excited to introduce guest blogger, Cathy Stucker. Cathy is the author of The Mystery Shopper’s Manual, the best selling guide to being a successful professional mystery shopper and blogs about the mystery shopping industry on her blog, The Mystery Shopper's Manual.  Confero President, Elaine Buxton first met Cathy several years ago during a Gold Shopper Certification seminar held by the MSPA when Cathy was working as a trainer for the Gold Certification program.    

by Cathy Stucker,

You just got back from shopping three locations of the same client. Each assignment used the same scenario, and they all went pretty much the same way. The temptation is to write the comments and narrative for the first shop, then copy and paste your words into the other two reports. A few changes of names and other details and you’re done, right?

Wrong! Although recycling is a good thing, recycling comments and narratives in your mystery shop reports is not. Not only do some shoppers do this when they shop multiple locations of a company in the same day, they may copy and paste comments from shops done for the same client in previous months, or even shops done for competing businesses in the same industry. I even heard about one shopper who copied and pasted comments from the sample report provided by the mystery shopping company.

Why You Shouldn’t Copy and Paste

Clients are paying for a shopper to go to their location, follow the scenario, and tell them exactly what happened during the visit. When they receive multiple reports that read exactly the same way they question the value of mystery shopping. Why should they pay for this if every report is the same?

There have even been times when shoppers failed to make changes and submitted reports with incorrect employee names or other details. Those errors can cause a client to reject the report, and a rejected report means the shopper does not get paid.

When shoppers cut corners in writing reports, mystery shopping companies have to wonder what other corners they cut in doing the assignment. Did the shopper stay in the location the required amount of time? Did she interact with the expected number of employees? Did he ask the questions required by the scenario? Did the shopper actually make the observations noted in the report at this location or not? Is the shopper copying and pasting to cover the fact that she didn’t do what was required?

Trust is important in mystery shopping. The client must trust the mystery shopping company, and the mystery shopping company must trust the shopper. Mystery shoppers who can not be trusted do not get assignments. And when shoppers do anything to cause their integrity to be questioned it reflects badly on all of us and the industry as a whole.

How to Make Reports Unique

It isn’t hard to make your comments and narratives unique. Simply start with a blank page and tell the story of what happened. Include specifics and details from the shop visit in each report. Details (such as exactly what greeting an employee used, or what product she recommended) not only make your reports unique, they make them more informative and useful to the client.

Cathy Stucker is the author of The Mystery Shopper’s Manual, the best selling guide to being a successful professional secret shopper. Get her free mystery shopper course at

Tagged: mystery shopper, mystery shopping, mystery shopping reports,

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