stilllearning

Customer Impact: Interview With Barbry Booth

Overview: Customer Impact, LLC is a privately owned mystery shopping company, founded in 2008. It is based in Bryan, TX and serves over 100 clients in the restaurant, hospitality, grocery, retail and financial sectors.

The business and has earned an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. New shoppers can register at: https://www.sassieshop.com/sassie/SassieShopperSignup/Signup.php?EmsID=BK1I8MXAf18.

MSM talks with Barbry Booth, Customer Impact Senior Scheduler:

MSM: It appears you’ve been working as a scheduler since 2000, starting with Speedmark, which was ultimately sold to Market Force in 2007. The following year, the former owners of Speedmark, Mike Green and Scott Hiller, launched a new venture, Customer Impact (CI), and you were invited to join the new company.

What experiences did you have prior to becoming a scheduler for a Mystery Shopping Company (MSC) to acquaint you with the position and to qualify you for the job?

Barbry Booth: I graduated from Texas A&M in May 2000 and began searching for my first “real” job. One of the jobs that I applied for was an editing position for a company called Green and Associates. I had always enjoyed and excelled in writing papers for college, so the job sounded great to me. As it turns out, Customer Impact President Mike Green was the owner of Green and Associates, which was also a mystery shopping company. I was hired as an editor and then six months later I was offered the position of scheduler. I guess you could say the rest is history!

MSM: In what ways has the scheduler’s job changed from when you first started, over a decade ago?

Barbry Booth: Oh my goodness!  The scheduler’s job has come a long way in the last 15 years. When I first began, there was no SASSIE, Prophet or any other survey platform that companies were using. If they were using a platform for survey submission, it was one that was specifically built for that company.

We would select the shoppers by hand for each assignment. The shopper was then notified via snail mail with a packet of shop information and asked to call or email our office to let us know if they are accepting the shop. Eventually we began sending our assignments via email, but the forms themselves were usually on an MS Word or Excel document. Then the shopper would have to email the survey back to our office as an attachment. The majority of the communication with the shopper was done by phone until email became the norm.

Also, I would say clients weren’t quite as informed about mystery shopping, so their specifications and scenarios back then were quite flexible. Now that mystery shopping is quite common, our clients are more apt to give us specific items they want evaluated and/or provide scenarios that the shoppers are to strictly adhere to. It’s been a whirlwind 15 years and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the industry over the next 15 years!

MSM: Please describe a typical day in the life of a scheduler at Customer Impact.

Barbry Booth: The day is filled with a variety of duties.  First I’ll listen to my voicemail and then figure out whom I can and can’t call back. Since everyone lives in different time zones, you have to be mindful and not call a shopper too early or too late in the day. After returning the calls I can, I move on to email. Our morning email is often filled with a mix of delight and disappointment. A good portion of the morning is spent sorting through emails, canceling or rescheduling shops and addressing in other concerns from shoppers or clients that have come in overnight.

Once we’re caught up on email, we move on to overdue shops. If a shopper’s deadline was the day before, we are likely to contact the shopper, just to check in and make sure the shop was completed as scheduled. If a shopper is more than two days late on submitting their survey and has had no contact with us, we must then cancel the shop, with a penalty citation. Of course if a shopper contacts us and had extenuating circumstances that prevented them from doing a shop, we’ll work with the shopper to have the citation removed.

We also must follow up with any shoppers that are still in the process of filling out their surveys.  If the deadline for the survey has passed and the survey is still incomplete, it’s the scheduler’s job to make sure the survey is finished up ASAP.

Once all of the incomplete and overdue shops are sorted out, we move on to actual scheduling. This might entail reposting shops, emailing and calling shoppers, posting shops on outside job boards, etc.  If we’re given any special projects, we find time to work on those each day as well.  We do all of this while continuing to answer our email and phone calls, making sure every shoppers concerns or questions are addressed in a timely manner.

I could probably go on and on with this topic, but I don’t want to bore your readers too much!  Let’s just say we do a lot of juggling throughout the day and often times into the night.

MSM: In 2012, on a Customer Impact blog you wrote, “I love scheduling! No, I really do.”

Since we have always pictured the job of scheduler as something one endures, it never occurred to us that it was possible to actually love doing it. Please expand on your statement to help us appreciate the positive aspects of scheduling.

Barbry Booth: Too funny!  I have a feeling that your readers might think someone who loves scheduling is absolutely bonkers. I’m okay with that. Scheduling provides a great sense of satisfaction. One of the joys of scheduling is working with the shoppers. I love it when a shopper tells me a shop they recently completed was “so much fun” or that if it weren’t for the shop, they would have never dined at a particular restaurant and enjoyed it so much. I love hearing those stories from shoppers.

I also couldn’t ask for better coworkers. Everyone that I have worked with through the years has been supportive and encouraging. It’s just really wonderful to work in an industry surrounded by so many diverse and caring individuals. I’ve been really blessed.

MSM: You qualified the statement above with, “Note, I did not say it didn’t have its challenges.” What are your biggest challenges and how do you overcome them?

Barbry Booth: I should have bolded and underlined that sentence! I’m kidding, to a certain extent.  Every day has its challenges.  One of our biggest challenges is recruiting shoppers in smaller markets.  If the usual ways of assigning a shop don’t work or if we have few shoppers in an area, we have to get creative with our recruiting. If all the usual avenues fail, we will cold call businesses or even the Chamber of Commerce in some cities to see if anyone can help out.

Another challenge is keeping an open line of communication with shoppers.  I think a lot of shoppers don’t realize that we DO want to hear from them. We want our shoppers to feel free to call our office or send us an email if they have questions. Our goal is for our shoppers to be successful in the mystery shopping industry.

MSM: Recently, on the Mystery Shop Forum, shoppers voted you winner of the “2015 Scheduler of the Year Contest”. Since there were 77 other schedulers nominated and since shoppers have been singing your praises as far back as 2003, you must be doing a lot right! What exactly are you consciously doing to cause such a positive response?

Barbry Booth: First, I just want to say I’m really honored to be selected as “Scheduler of the Year” by Mystery Shop Forum. There were so many awesome schedulers up for nomination and each one of them deserves special recognition for their work in the field.

I believe in just being kind, honest, genuine and sincere. I strive to live by the Golden Rule and do my best to treat our shoppers and clients just as I would like to be treated. It’s also good to keep in mind that you never know what a person is going through in their life at any given moment, so treat everyone with kindness and sincerity. That goes a long way when dealing with others.

MSM: What separates the “good” shoppers from the “excellent” shoppers and are there any perks associated with being regarded as an “excellent” shopper?

Barbry Booth: That’s a great question! Excellent shoppers get their shops completed with little to no interaction with us and are very consistent. They seldom ask to reschedule a shop and we, as schedulers, know the shop will get completed. Excellent shoppers do not require follow-up on their surveys and no rewrite of the survey is required.

A good shopper gets the shop completed, but does have a tendency to ask for an extension. Often times their survey may require some follow-up or rewrite due to grammatical or other errors.

Excellent shoppers have a rating of 9 or 10 in our system and good shoppers have a rating of 8 or 9. If given the choice between a shopper with a 10 and a shopper with an 8, a scheduler will most likely choose the shopper with a rating of 10. The success rate for the shopper and scheduler is much higher that way.

MSM: Barbry, thank you for making the time during the end-of-the-month crunch to talk with Mystery Shopper Magazine. From your thoughtful responses, it’s clear why shoppers voted you as the best of the best! Congratulations!

Discuss this interview on Mystery Shop Forum