5 Ways Prism Helps Protect Clients From "IC V. Employee" Challenges

5 Ways Prism Helps Protect Clients From "IC V. Employee" Challenges

california legal ruling threatens mystery shopping industry

Maintaining the Independent Contractor status of mystery shoppers is critical to the survival of the Mystery Shopping Industry.  The recent California Supreme Court ruling in the Dynamex case just made things a lot scarier, by applying a new test to establish independent contractor relationships. A test that is widely considered the most difficult one to satisfy.

Prism is dedicated to helping our clients and industry partners stay safely on the right side of this and we have numerous, unique advantages in place to help protect you.


Please note that we are not attorneys and nothing in this document can be construed as legal advice. We strongly encourage you to work with your counsel to review your specific situation in light of this new ruling. For MSPA members, they have some great information and resources available – please check them out. And if you are not a member, please consider joining.

Independent Contractors Register with Us, Not You

The Prism database contains approximately 1,000,000 registered Independent Contractors – all of whom have registered with iSecretShop – not with specific MSPs.

In your role as a broker between your clients’ projects and the IC’s who perform mystery shopping services, you are bringing our shoppers to the project. Using ICs from 3rd parties like us adds a critically important layer of insulation – and we can make a million of them available to you.

In addition, Prism offers scheduling services to our clients as well – so you can further insulate by outsourcing that entire aspect of your operation. We host a truly superlative Fulfillment Team, able and eager to get your clients’ projects completed with our shopper force.

Contractors Advertise Their Services, Employees Don't

One of the most challenging components of the California test is determining if the IC is, “…customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation or business of the same nature as that involved in the work performed for hiring.” In other words, in part, you need to show that the IC does mystery shopping work regularly, as a business or as their trade. Here Prism can help in multiple ways:

Unlike employees, contractors advertise their services. By registering with iSecretShop, contractors are immediately making themselves visible to dozens of MSPs with open opportunities – advertising to the MSPs that they are interested in work and available for contact and consideration.

Contractors Work for Multiple Businesses, Employees Don't

iSecretShop serves as a job board: A portal where shoppers can log in, review, accept and complete assignments for every MSP on the platform in one place. Our shoppers typically perform work for multiple MSPs, and we can document that if necessary. In addition, many of our shoppers sign the IC Agreements of every MSP on the system, whether they do shops for them yet or not – so we can document not just that they’ve advertised themselves to multiple companies, but that they have taken assignments from multiple companies AND that they have signaled their intent to work for even more. Again, we are not lawyers – and not giving legal advice here – but we believe this unique-to-Prism capability may prove to be quite helpful to making your case.

3rd Party Industry Certifications Help the Shoppers, Your Clients and You

Another way to demonstrate that mystery shopping is a part of the IC’s trade or occupation is their use of Certifications. When Independent Contractors have sought out and received industry certifications from third parties, it helps everyone. iSecretShop hosts an outstanding shopper certification resource: iSSPrep.com – where shoppers can take a variety of free and paid courses and earn meaningful certifications demonstrating their mastery of everything from General Mystery Shopping to Video Shopping, Using a Mobile Device and much more.

New courses are being added as well – in categories such as Fine Dining, Financial Industry shops, Advanced Mystery Shopping and a catalog of others. And our MSPs can even request or require certain certifications in order to accept projects. So you can guarantee you are only using third party certified shoppers if you choose.

Contractors Submit Invoices, Employees Don't

Invoice.jpg

Another powerful tool in your arsenal at Prism is our integrated, automatic IC Invoicing feature. Contractors submit invoices to be paid. Employees do not. So the Prism system automatically generates an invoice (from the contractor to you) whenever they submit a report for review. These invoices reference the specific job details, include the agreed-upon compensation amount (and any expected bonuses) as well as any expected reimbursement. All associated receipts are attached and the invoices are dynamic, so they update from Open to Paid as soon as you pay them.

Additionally, the invoices are designed to help define the shopper as an Independent Contractor by referencing their business phone and business address information, not personal. 

The Threat Continues

Protecting and preserving the Independent Contractor status of mystery shoppers is of critical importance to the industry and to the sustainability of the services you provide. The state-by-state legislative environment is becoming increasingly antagonistic. Prism is dedicated to working with you to help protect against this increasing threat.

 

Brand Experience Data - 4 Reporting Must-Have's

Brand Experience Data - 4 Reporting Must-Have's

Every company is different and businesses visualize and consume their Brand and Customer Experience Measurement data in different ways. When it comes to data deliverables, one size definitely does not fit all. When selecting a data collection partner, it is imperative that you ensure you are able to receive your data the way you need and expect it.

There are several methods available - and no matter which way you and your clients prefer it today, make sure you have all the options available to you - because it is guaranteed to change in the future.

Reporting Dashboards

Robust and Intuitive Data Visualization is mandatory in today's demanding business climate. Everyone on the team, everyone from front-line leaders to C-level decision makers needs to be able to quickly see, explore and extract data to identify defects, spot trends, capture best practices and ensure that the entire organization remains on a successful, positive trajectory.

Make sure that the Dashboard you use allows for easy and sophisticated customization: Custom Client Branding, Custom Data Views, Custom User pages and Custom Reports. Hierarchical User controls and restrictions ensure data is properly compartmentalized - and every user should have appropriate level-controlled access - at no per user charge. Some platforms charge per user - which is both totally unnecessary and extremely expensive.

Trend Graphs, Pre-built Reports, Media File Galleries, Advanced Analytics Tools and an intuitive, easy-to-master user interface are essentials. And make certain you can view and explore all your data together in the same place: Mystery Shops, Internal Audits, C-Sat Surveys, Competitive Price Audits and Brand Reputation Management data should be displayed together - because it is all interrelated and important.

And the best Dashboards are able to empower clients with the ability to manage their own data - even to review and edit prior to downstream release, to manage corporate users - even to manage their locations to ensure everything is current, correct and under control.

Open API

More sophisticated clients, and/or clients with more sophisticated systems will need to be able to pull the data from the provider into their platform automatically, at will. This is accomplished with an Open API (Application Program Interface) that allows two systems to connect, define what is to be shared, and let the machines do the delivery.

Make certain your data collection provider has an Open API and makes it available to you upon request. Without it, your largest and most advanced clients will be unsatisfied at best, and most likely need to look elsewhere to have their needs met.

Cloud Exports

Cloud Exports are a suite of delivery methods that allow clients (and individual users within clients) to schedule which reports they want delivered, how they want them delivered and with what frequency/on what schedule.

For example, some users may want certain reports to arrive every Monday morning at 8am local time. Others may prefer specific reports on the last day of each month, first day of the week, end of the quarter, etc. Be certain you are able to accommodate such needs with ease.

In addition, make sure you are able to deliver the data via any method your clients need. There are several Cloud Export delivery channels: FTP, sFTP and Email. All three are common - and your data collection partner should be able to accommodate all three.

Finally, everyone has different format needs and requirements. Some want PDF's, others need Excel .CSV files and still others require SPSS formatting. No matter your (or your clients') format needs, make certain your provider can deliver.

Dynamic Location Reports

Dashboards are designed to show users everything, from the top down and let decision makers dig deep. But it is at the granular, location-specific level where the action happens and the specifics matter most. It is therefore essential that your location reports are the best in the industry.

PDF reports are an artifact of yesteryear: static pictures of a page. Dynamic, living reports are the cutting edge of the industry. These are reports that update in real time as new data comes in. Their embedded charts and trend graphs move as the environment evolves. They are always current, always accurate and always available.

Dynamic reports also allow for the most innovative additional functionalities: Make sure yours allow for Question Level Commenting (where management and staff can have a dialog - at the question level - within the actual report to seek explanations, demand action and document the entire exchange).  Dynamic Reports also allow for interaction between client and data collection partners with features like Requests for Attention - where report recipients can, with a click, open a conversation with their partner to seek clarification, request changes and adjustments and address concerns.

And Dynamic Reports can, with a single click, be emailed to a predetermined list of eligible recipients or to anyone of your choosing. And, of course, they can be converted to PDFs with a click as well - if that's how they choose to roll.

Summary:

Every client is different. They have different systems, different corporate cultures, different processes and different preferences - and data providers must be able to accommodate every need, from the old school to the vanguard of data visualization and everything in between. When choosing a data collection partner - or evaluating your current one - these are the Mission Critical Must Haves that allow you to serve every client, every way.

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