This is one in a series of posts on mystery shopper best practices.
This week we examine four points in the MSPA Code of Professional Standards and Ethics For Mystery Shoppers about mystery shopper professional conduct. All secret shoppers who achieve MSPA 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.
I will not contact a client directly without approval of the shopping company.
As mystery shoppers, our professional relationship is with the mystery shopping company, and the company has a relationship with the client. We do not have a relationship with the client, and should not insinuate ourselves into the mystery shopping provider’s client relationship.
This means that we should not contact the client with comments about a secret shop we conducted, or to offer services of our own. And a mystery shopper should never contact a client to complain about the mystery shopping company.
Will a mystery shopping provider ever ask a shopper to deal directly with a client? It is rare, but it does happen. For example, the client may want to speak directly with the shopper to get feedback or the mystery shopping company may want the client to meet some of the shoppers who work on their account.
I will not announce myself as a mystery shopper to the business being shopped unless given specific instructions by the shopping company.
If this isn’t obvious, what part of “mystery” shopper or “secret” shopper don’t you understand? Most mystery shoppers get this, but you must also make sure that if you have a companion on a mystery shopper job that they, too, know not to announce that you are mystery shopping. This includes things such as saying, “I think you will be very happy when you see your mystery shop report.”
I will not accept a mystery shopping assignment for a business that I, my family or friends work for.
It can be difficult to be objective when doing a mystery shopper job at a business where you or someone you know works. The problem is obvious when you are mystery shopping a friend of relative. However, even if you do not know anyone at the location you are shopping, there may be a tendency to be too easy on the employees and make excuses for them, or be too tough because you are aware of standards that are not included in the guidelines for the mystery shop.
How is “family” defined? Does it include your second cousin, once-removed? If you are not sure, ask the mystery shopping company before accepting an assignment.
If you enter a location to complete an assignment and discover that someone you know works there, the best thing to do is to abort the shop and inform your scheduler. It may be that when you accepted the assignment you didn’t know that the kid next door was working there; however, once you know, you should not complete the shop.
I will not list any shopping company I work for as an “employer” on any forms (especially unemployment forms) if I am hired strictly as an independent contractor for that company.
This is very important. As an independent contractor you are not an employee. It may seem like the same thing to you (“I’m working for them, doesn’t that make me an employee?”) but legally they are very different.
In most cases, mystery shoppers work as independent contractors, not employees. Do not misrepresent the relationship.
Watch for additional posts on mystery shopper best practices over the coming weeks.