From a scheduler's point

I'm obviously up way too late to even think about posting this… LOL But anyway. I know that shoppers have ASAP questions that need to be answered, etc. However, I'm feeling like shoppers feel like I should be at my computer 24/7 to answer emails, calls, and texts. I am a parent like so many others and my children have kickboxing, choir, etc that I am a taxi for. .m I haven't been able to cook dinner for my family 3 times this week due to work. Weird for a work at home mom. Right?

I know most shoppers do NOT expect a reply immediately but there are some whom I get emails from 4-5 times in the middle of the night bc I didn't respond to their first email at 2 am when they sent it. Also when I wake and have close to 100 emails (TRUTH!) to respond to and a shopper gets mad bc I didn't respond to theirs within 5 minutes of them sending it.

I know that no one here has a resolution. I just needed to let it out. I DO love what I do, but just wish others could realize that scheduler's are human too. :/

Ok. Sorry for the rant. sad smiley. I'm sure others have their input good/bad on what I have said.

Deva Roberts
Director of Operations
shoppers@acemysteryshopping.com
ACE Mystery Shopping
[ace.shopmetrics.com]
[acemysteryshopping.com]

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Some of it is a result of time zone differences. If I had a dollar for every time a scheduler called me at 5:00 AM,
I could retire. And I get over 100 e-mails every day, too, and I'm not even a scheduler -- just a lowly shopper!

smiling smiley
Not a lowly shopper at all! If it weren't for shopper, scheduler's would not get their job done! I am BLESSED for having many of the reliable shoppers that I have!
@ceasesmith wrote:

Some of it is a result of time zone differences. If I had a dollar for every time a scheduler called me at 5:00 AM,
I could retire. And I get over 100 e-mails every day, too, and I'm not even a scheduler -- just a lowly shopper!

smiling smiley

Deva Roberts
Director of Operations
shoppers@acemysteryshopping.com
ACE Mystery Shopping
[ace.shopmetrics.com]
[acemysteryshopping.com]
To me it depends on the shop and the scheduler. I do a lot of video, many times we run into things that we need an immediate (or at least in the next 5 minutes) answer to. I have the cell phone number for every video scheduler I work for. Video is a completely different beast though.

For traditional written shops (and for scheduling, etc, for video) I usually expect an email during business hours to be answered within a few hours. If I email sometime outside of business hours I generally expect a reply by mid day the following day. I find that 99.99% of the people I deal with work within those parameters. Of course there are times when they don't, but it's rare. Plus the schedulers I work with the most I have a fairly good idea of what times they work and what parts of the month/quarter/year are busiest for them so obviously adjust those expectations accordingly.

If I email a scheduler that I have never worked with and never had contact with before, I'd like a reply in 24 hours (not including weekends). I'm fairly certain I have had less than 5 emails in my MS career (not including Intellishop because I'm still waiting on replies from last June from them) that have been returned later than 24 hours.

I would absolutely positively without question never ever email a scheduler in the middle of the night and then email again a few hours later because I had not gotten a reply yet.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
My input on this subject is that I expect the same degree of respect from the person that schedules or edits the shops as an editor or a scheduler would expect from me. I may not always get what I want, but I would love to have it.

If a scheduler or an editor can cancel my shop within 24 hours if I don't respond then why would it be fair for them to take sometimes up to two weeks for them to respond to me? As a shopper, I am not emailing anyone just to say hi. It's for an important issue. Treat the shoppers the way that you would like to be treated.

****************


Motivation increases when we assume large responsibilities with a short deadline.
I am not a scheduler but totally agree with you. But understand, there are less of "you" than you may think, at least in my opinion. Many times, I will email a scheduler ONCE and NEVER receive a reply. So, I will email another and then a couple hours later, magically get a reply from the first. I have a hand full of schedulers that I adore because they reply at least the same business if not very early the next. I definitely understand you are human, a parent, some maybe have other jobs, as well as the 100+ shops you are managing, but unfortunately there are more unresponsive schedulers than you may thing. And, unfortunately the good ones, may get the multiple emails and such because of those experiences. As a shopper, I have learned that almost immediately after accepting a shop, even if its not due for some time, I will read over guidelines as well as questionnaire and email any questions or concerns that I have asap, just to avoid any last-minute fires. Thank you so much for your insight.
Don't let things like that get to you. What people don't understand is that you have a life outside of work and they shouldn't expect a response within an hour. If you're able to get to them that quickly, GREAT! If not, no blame shouldn't be placed on you. Same goes for the emails sent late at night and early in the morning...

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 31 year old male and willing to travel!
SchedulerDeva,
Definitely agree with you, but it would be major helpful if postings were more thorough in explaining the major shop requirements. In fact I have signed on for vaguely worded shops and had to later cancel because key points were not originally stated.

Example: An auto oil change shop is posted and does not state which year autos are allowed. You accept the shop and have to cancel after realizing your year auto is not allowed. This is why some of us post questions asking about how long or short a report may be or what exactly is entailed overall BEFORE accepting a shop. This saves everybody time later on and leaves the shop open for somebody else to accept. EXample: Anybody asking about the IKEA shops will almost always receive unfavorable feedback relating to the shop requirements as been the norm for several years with this client.

Thanks again for posting, I appreciate hearing from schedulers on this board for good or bad...
I can understand people calling a scheduler off business hours because they are too lazy to Google the area code to find out of they are located in California and they live on the east coast. The opposite can also happen as well. I have received calls from schedulers as late as10:00 PM,
I have mixed emotions about this, because I have had both schedulers that get back to me rather quickly all the way to some who never get back at all.

However, I was recently burned when performing a VERY big shop and a problem arose where cash would not be accepted (and it was a requirement for a cash integrity shop).

It was 3PM on a Friday and I immediately halted my shop and called the scheduler. I got voice mail. I emailed and waited, no response. Everything was time dependant. I then tried eight additional times via all methods with no response. I ended up doing the best I could for the shop since I was already invested, and did not hear back until the following Monday.

It all turned out alright, but the fear and panic after not being able to reach the scheduler via text, phone, email, or cell sure was not worth it. She was my lifeline, and no one else was able to assist me. sad smiley

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/30/2015 11:23PM by Chix.
The world has become accustomed to immediate responses due to digital forms of communication. As such, a false sense of urgency is often created. That said, bear in mind that Shoppers are expected to reply to inquiries from MS companies virtually immediately. One company I shop for has a six hour window to get back to them if they contact the shopper regarding a submitted shop. While I understand that deadlines exist, I think that many editors are poor time managers or that the MS company puts unrealistic demands on its employees. Regardless, shoppers should be considerate and respectful when contacting schedulers.
Boy, can I relate to that one. I am on the east coast and a California scheduler contacted me at 3 AM one day a couple of weeks ago asking if I could take a job the next day that some one just flaked on. Really??? You call me at 3 AM to ask me to drive 55 miles one way to pick up a $9.00 job that you will give me a $10 bonus to complete? I wouldn't leave my house to drive 110 miles round trip for $19.00 and you call me at 3 AM to ask me to do this? I can understand both scenarios for the scheduler and the shopper.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/31/2015 03:29AM by CJT.
I completely understand and am right there with ya! Sometimes you just need to vent.

Edited to add: I always try to check where the shopper lives before I call, so it's not too early or too late. Also, I have my work line only transfer to my home number from 7am-10pm PT. I don't miss the early days of scheduling when I only had one line (my home number) and would receive calls before 5am from East Coast shoppers. :-)

Thanks,

Jen Slyter
Scheduling Manager
Amusement Advantage, Inc.
Guest Experience Solutions | Measurement Analysis Action
800-362-9946, ext. 124 | Jen@amusementadvantage.com | www.amusementadvantage.com

$20 Referral Bonus - Refer friends, family, co-workers and earn $20 for any new shopper who completes a bowling or skating assignment ($10 for all other shops)!


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/31/2015 05:29AM by AAJen.
I had no idea that so many calls and emails even went on between schedulers and shoppers. I have been in this game for over 5 years. Though retired from big business, mystery shopping still makes up a good percentage of my income. I average 5-7 shops a day, 6-7 days a week. (I take my share of vacations). 99.9% of my shops are self scheduled, never involving communication with a scheduler. I will say that I do get a ton of calls each day, that I usually do not answer. They are from numbers that I do not recognize. They do not leave a message. And I do not feel that I've missed anything by not answering them. I used to answer those type of calls, usually to find nobody on the other end. So I stopped. I do not recall ever calling a scheduler. I could probably count on one hand, the number of times I've emailed a scheduler for any reason at all. I've just found it quite easy (most of the time) to do it all without any help.
How can I get to be a scheduler? I admire what you all do and THANK you all for giving me my assignments and allowing me to do this type of work for almost 12 years!! KUDOS to you and all who schedule!!
@slgmail wrote:

I had no idea that so many calls and emails even went on between schedulers and shoppers.

On the complete opposite end of the scale of the 231 shops I did in October only 1 was taken off the board with no interaction between me and the scheduler.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
They don't teach some business skills like they used to when I was being groomed early in my career.
One of today's leading banks paid for outside training classes to spiff communication skills, effectiveness training and time management. The focus was on promoting customer service and productivity. Recommended organization skills included instructing on returning same day calls at regular points of time that worked into regular patterns of the day, say 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM. Calls received after 3 could be carried over until 10 AM next business as reasonable. This creates better time management and customer service standards. It may not be reasonable all the time but it has always been a helpful goal for me along with rolling priority lists. We expect immediate access these days because so many more channels to communicate.
Well... there are a couple things that might help you Deva. You might try convincing your company to get you a secretary. Also, you might setup your email to automatically put all emails from the people that send you the most into specific folders with their names on them. That might make it easier.

Good luck Deva and thanks for being a great scheduler!
Deva, I used to do several shops for you, but I have not seen any lately. Is it because you don't have any in my area lately? I agree with the others above that you are a great scheduler and would like to work with you again. Dara in Bloomington
@Chix wrote:

It was 3PM on a Friday and I immediately halted my shop and called the scheduler. I got voice mail. I emailed and waited, no response. Everything was time dependant. I then tried eight additional times via all methods with no response. I ended up doing the best I could for the shop since I was already invested, and did not hear back until the following Monday.
I have been in urgent situations also. Friday afternoons and of course weekends are the toughest. For some reason, many schedulers and editors do not seem to work full shifts on Fridays. I am mainly referring to the ones who work in an actual office, not out of their homes.

After the frantic emails, phone calls and text messages, I have resorted to calling someone else who works for the company. Many times I find out that the scheduler was out sick that day or on vacay or had a family emergency. At least that gives me some sort of excuse. Many times, the other person can help me or get me to a higher up.

When all else fails, I do the best I can and I keep all documentation of my attempts to contact the scheduler during the crisis. Very few times, they were not able to use my report but because of my great communication and my reputation, the MSC still paid me on their dime, not the client's dime.
@scanman1 wrote:

I can understand people calling a scheduler off business hours because they are too lazy to Google the area code to find out of they are located in California and they live on the east coast. The opposite can also happen as well. I have received calls from schedulers as late as10:00 PM,
I agree. In my Excel spreadsheet, I have a column for notes. I usually make a reference to what state or time zone they are located in. But I have doing this for so long, I usually have that information memorized.
Many MSC's profile sections and some platforms allow a shopper to set up how they want to be contacted - by email, by text alerts, by phone. Some have a range of contact hours that you can set. I get a few phone calls with urgent bonuses but many of my schedulers contact me by text. Even emails are becoming less and less. I never get phone calls in the middle of the night. They wouldn't be answered anyway since I turn off ringer and vibration. I need my 5-6 hours of sleep!
@jeffshopping wrote:

Well... there are a couple things that might help you Deva. You might try convincing your company to get you a secretary.
Sorry but that made me laugh. Deva stated that she was a stay-at-home working mom. They are not going to hire a secretary for her. Many MSCs are running on shoestring budgets so hiring secretaries (such an antiquated term) are out of the question. Many schedulers and editors are Independent Contractors just like us. Should the MSCs hire administrative assistants for each of us? I actually like being in charge of my own business and I do not want outside help.
I've been doing our scheduling for many years. How long? I used to play phone tag with shoppers to get people to commit to visits and then Snail Mail them forms with SASE's. The instant communication has drastically changed the playing field. I feel Deva's pain here and I also can see the shoppers' point of view in needing to get an answer to a question 'in a hurry'. I've always done my best to answer email as quickly as I possibly can; I'm constantly monitoring the Inbox for those in immediate need and do my best to answer them. I'm often baffled at how many of those 'emergencies' could have been avoided if the Guidelines had been fully absorbed. It baffles me even further when I get emails from I-Pads and am told they are at target and need a question answered and the answer is right in front of them in the Guidelines on their I-Pad. I want to say what part of 'independent' in IC don't you understand. But that isn't what I do because it is my job to support you all. So I answer the question and gently point out where they can find the answer in the Guidelines in case they forget and need a refresher on their next shop.

Here is my tip for Deva; I've started doing this in the past year when I need some 'me' time. Use your automatic reply feature. Tell the truth; kinda. Example; Explain it is midnight and you are finally dragging off to bed and have an important duty to perform in the morning so won't be answering emails until 10am. Then get up, make and have breakfast with your kids, drive them to school, go to Starbucks and get a coffee and mosey on home to slogging at the email box on your time. I've also started doing this on Friday afternoons and reminding people it is the weekend and hoping they enjoy theirs but not to expect a a reply until Monday unless it is an 'emergency' because I have a yard and house to maintain and a life too. Then I get away from my computer and take back some of my life. I do monitor email by notifications on my phone (I don't read the email unless the first line says 'help' in some way.) and reply if I can from the phone or if not make my way to a keyboard. It has helped me to feel a little less beholden to the Inbox and for me that's a good thing.

Getting the auto-reply let's people know you are there somewhere but not immediately available; it reduces the immediacy of their expectation and yet lets them know their email was received and will be replied to in due course.

Schedulers are people too and the job is very much a never ending proposition. 24/7/365. My schedule and the assignments I need to fill go with me on my vacations, a weekend away or just out to dinner. Shoppers just go away; on cruises mostly it seems. :-)

Bill Koch
Owner / Founder / Chief Cook & Bottle Washer
ServiceSense
Norwell, MA
www.servicesense.com
@shopscamp wrote:

Here is my tip for Deva; I've started doing this in the past year when I need some 'me' time. Use your automatic reply feature.

This is a FANTASTIC idea.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
@bgriffin wrote:

@shopscamp wrote:

Here is my tip for Deva; I've started doing this in the past year when I need some 'me' time. Use your automatic reply feature.

This is a FANTASTIC idea.

Especially if the auto reply includes an alternate phone # or text address in case the shopper REALLY needs help right away. Some scheduler's voice mail and/or auto reply give the phone number for the equivalent of the Help Desk; I have found that helpful more than once.
If your getting that many emails I wonder what could be missing. The only times I have had to email a scheduler is when the shop details were vague ,incorrect, or left out specific details. it might serve you well to clear an hour or so of your time and see what the "theme" of these emails are and ffrom there create a "help" or "faqs" page that shoppers can rely on when you are unavailable. If you don't have the extra time maybe enlist a friend or relative to do this task for you.
Either I am not very common or you are not very common (or both!). I probably send half a dozen emails a day to schedulers.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
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