This is one in a series of posts on mystery shopper best practices.
This week we examine five points in the MSPA Code of Professional Standards and Ethics For Mystery Shoppers that address confidentiality. All secret shoppers who achieve http://www.mspa-na.org/certification commit to uphold this code, and they are standards that all mystery shoppers, whether certified or not, should follow.
Confidentiality is critical–that’s why they call it “secret” shopping–however, many mystery shoppers seem not to understand the importance of keeping proprietary information secret. If you are an MSPA certified shopper and you violate confidentiality, you could lose your certification. Any shopper who violates confidentiality risks being dropped by the company they burned. Confidentiality is important to mystery shopping providers and clients. It should be important to you, too.
I agree to honor all confidentiality agreements.
When you apply to a mystery shopping company, the independent contractor agreement will include a section on confidentiality. Before agreeing to the terms of the independent contractor agreement, including any confidentiality clauses, be sure to read and understand it. The independent contractor agreement is a legal contract and you are bound by its terms.
I will not ask or encourage anyone to break confidentiality agreements with other firms for whom they conduct mystery shopping assignments.
This means that you should not ask other shoppers to provide proprietary information about mystery shopping companies and their clients. Don’t gossip about mystery shopping companies and their clients, and do not ask other secret shoppers to violate their confidentiality agreements.
I will not share information with others on which company shops which clients.
This is Confidentiality 101. Visit any online mystery shopping forum and you will see questions such as, “Does anyone know who shops ?” Disclosing this information is a violation of confidentiality. Many companies would also consider a violation to provide an answer such as, “I know who shops them, but I can’t tell you because of confidentiality.” Even stating that a client gets mystery shopped could be considered a violation of the confidentiality agreement.
Oh, and asking a question about which company shops which client is encouraging someone else to violate their confidentiality agreements, so even asking the question would be a violation of these standards.
I will not share information with others on shopping fees and reimbursements for specific clients.
I will not share the results of a shop with others in order to protect the clients confidentiality.
In general, you should not share any information about specific clients with anyone. This includes posting to a public forum or telling your friends a funny story about a mystery shop. If your friend wants to become a mystery shopper, you may share information such as the names of your favorite mystery shopping companies, but you may not say who their clients are or how much they pay, and you may not share guidelines, report forms or completed reports. All of those things are covered by the confidentiality agreement.
Watch for the final installment in this series on mystery shopper best practices next week.