I recently attended a day long video shopping workshop presented by Jeff Crozier and Kathy McCord of Video Shopping Pros (VSP).
First, here is some background on this company. Jeff and Kathy are longtime video and non-video shoppers. When a similar company they were working for folded, they set up Video Shopping Pros as, “A full service video mystery shopping training company.” VSP presents workshops in those parts of the country where there exists a demand for more video shoppers.
Also, in response to demand from video shopping MSPs, they have organized VideoCon16, the first video-only mystery shopping conference to take place on two days in May 2016, near Dallas, Texas.
For this day long workshop, I attended with few expectations, except a desire to get a good deal of hands-on practice and instruction with the PV-500.
When I arrived with three other shoppers, we were presented with a 47 page booklet that contained the presentation and resources. We introduced ourselves to the group and described our shopping experience. Questions were encouraged and the conversation started to go to different areas. Jeff let the conversation flow into those relevant areas with full and complete explanations.
The workshop described a very small community of video shopping schedulers. I learned relationships between shopper and scheduler are extremely important, more so than with non-video mystery shopping. They are based on frequent and timely communication. This includes not only telling schedulers were you will be for availability to shop but also informing them when a shop was attempted and that it was a success with the reports and video to soon follow, or it was a failure. Because numerous things can go wrong even with the best shoppers, schedulers need to immediately know the shop attempt succeeded or failed so that they can make efforts to get another shopper there within the sometimes limited time frames required by the client.
A discussion of common video shops with examples from Jeff and Kathy’s experience in the field occurred. In fact, throughout the workshop they liberally included details of unusual occurrences, difficulties, or tips on how to deal with issues as they arise.
The workshop provided a detailed discussion of a very common video shop, new home shops. Using the detailed description in the booklet, we were given a look into these demanding role playing shops. Discussion included how to find them when addresses are not in your GPS app or program, how to find and identify the target, and creating a role for your shop.
I learned role playing is very important on many video shops to play the part of an interested customer during a lengthy interaction that may last one to two hours. Many details about what agents would be asking about including how you found them, why are you moving to the area, and when you will be moving were presented. We were asked to take a moment and write down details of a fictitious for a new home shop. Then a short role playing exercise and critique for each of the attendees was offered. The importance of researching the client and their competition was also stressed as the agents will be asking many questions during these lengthy role playing shops. In addition, fictitious contact information in the form of an email and phone number needs to be created and memorized before the shop. Several resources for creating such information was presented.
Discussion turned to the machines and mounting the button camera. Jeff started with an older model of the PV-500 before he to one of the attendee’s equipment (a PV-500 L3, the latest model) who gave permission for him to use it. He presented both versions to demonstrate how to use it and set up the camera on a shirt. Kathy demonstrated her video shirt and how the camera and microphone were set up on it. A selection of about fourteen video-prepared shirts of different sizes for both males and females were available. I took the invited opportunity to take a shirt, place a button cam in place and use it. Viewing the screen on the PV-500 in real time Jeff and Kathy gave me tips on how to get a person in a good viewing angle while accounting for my height and the subject’s height and while being standing and seated. Discussion about how to overcome shooting over a desk located in between the shopper and subject was offered. Using both Jeff’s older model and my personal PV-500 L3, I discovered the two were very similar in function. Other questions were asked and answered that included about mounting on shirts, location of the microphone, and location to place the recorder during covert use. Curiously enough, I was the only attendee who choose to experiment with the available equipment and shirts. When the group’s interest in the equipment and shirts waned, the workshop moved on to discussion about file transfers.
Filezilla was shown as an example of a program used by many video MSPs to upload files. Using her own account, Kathy showed us how she used the program to upload files to an MSP. Other file transfer programs and options such as DropBox were discussed if the first option fails. However, what was discussed but not demonstrated was how to upload files from the PV-500 to a computer. Memory cards for the PV-500 were discussed in detail with a specific recommendation to replace what came with the PV-500. Card readers for fast uploads to a computer were shown and discussed.
Video shopping involves legalities as it relates to recording audio and video. This topic was discussed in depth. Video recording is permitted where no one has an expectation of privacy, such as in the public areas of a business. Audio recording is of course different. Jeff and Kathy covered this by presenting a list of the 50 states with each designated either a one or two party consent state for audio recording. A separate color-coded map of the United States was also provided with that same information. Discussion turned to how clients and MSPs generally get consent from their employees for such shops that makes video shopping legal in two party states. Shoppers must trust their MSPs to do so or ask for confirmation of those permissions. The legality of competitor shops in two party states was also discussed.
Lastly was a number of resources presented that included sources for video equipment and shirt alterations. Brochures and business cards were provided for the recommended sources. A list of video shopping companies with names and emails of contacts was presented to us with a recommendation to sign up and contact these individuals. Names and contacts of attendees were also presented to those on that list. After the workshop, several of those schedulers have reached out to me as a newly certified video shopper.
In conclusion, I feel the Video Shopper Pros workshop valuable to jump start my video shopping career. The fact that Jeff and Kathy shared workshop attendees names and contact information with a number of video schedulers, allows the newly certified shoppers to more easily network with them and build relationships. Hands on experience wearing the PV-500 with tips and pointers from the two experienced video shoppers helped me become more comfortable with the equipment. I realize now I took very few notes at the workshop because of a great depth of information provided in the 47 page booklet. For example, it lists numerous options for getting different emails and phone numbers for the necessary role plays. That completeness and depth of information in the booklet will serve as a resource going forward. Attendees were impressed with the wit and charm Jeff brought to the workshop. Those qualities helped make the day long event entertaining and enjoyable. Numerous stories, tips and tricks were provided during the workshop that I’m sure will come in handy down the road. In addition, Jeff and Kathy provided their personal contact information with “Lifetime mentoring” to attendees as part of the service. If I were to change anything I would prefer more time with the PV-500 and a critique of video, perhaps one created during the workshop. But it was overall well worth the time spent and a good time.
PS: Information about upcoming workshops and VideoCon16, the video-only shoppers conference can be found at the Video Shopper Pros website; http://videoshoppingpros.com