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Which is More Difficult: Minimum or Maximum? April 19, 2010

Posted by Ann Michaels & Associates in Uncategorized.
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I’ve seen this debate across the industry for several years now – when preparing mystery shopping reports, which is more difficult: writing narratives that have a minimum character count, or maximum?

In part, it probably depends on the type of shop you are doing. However, my personal opinion, and that of many others in the industry, is that having a maximum number of characters is more difficult than a minimum number. What if you need to describe an entire interaction in only 250 characters? That could prove to be quite difficult, and not give the client quite the information it needs.

I will say that schedulers have a similar situation at times. When posting upcoming shops, the scheduler is able to include questions to better qualify shoppers before assigning shops. However, they are typically limited to 250 characters, which can be difficult if there are multiple questions to be asked.

Imposing a maximum character count is not the most optimal situation with mystery shopping reports, especially if they are shops involving detailed interactions. However, it is a good lesson in writing concisely, without too many “filler” words or phrases, and getting to the point as quickly as possible. There are many caveats that go with that though, and it seems that at this time Mystery Shopping Companies are leaning toward imposing minimum character counts vs maximum counts.

Why impose any limits at all, you ask? In the case of a maximum character count, the client may only be interested in brief comments. In this instance, it prevents shoppers who are trained to write long, detailed narratives to keep it simple.

On the flip side, we have seen (as I’m sure other companies have) narratives for fine dining restaurants that are maybe a paragraph or two at best. It’s a balancing act to keep the client’s best interests at heart – next time you see character counts on a report, remember the reasoning behind it!

Until next time….happy shopping!

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Comments»

1. Integrity Consultants - April 24, 2010

Couldn’t agree more. I also believe that it can be more difficult when writing narratives with a maximum character count, especially if the report is very detailed and contains many items that should be addressed. I do find that minimum character counts help to inspire more complete narratives and comments when more information is needed. However, we must also take note when writing reports that were giving the type of information requested and not just filling up space. I always remind shoppers to review the report, specifically the numbered questions. If you can tell that a question is a scoring question, or if it is starred or marked in some way to tell you that it is especially important to the client, those are good ones to expound upon.


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