Monday Morning Reaction: DHS, Virginia Wiggins, Walgreens, Jordan Creek Mall, Walmart, Guilty Voting And Surgical Shopping
…and welcome to the day placed, unfortunately for it, right after the two days we’d prefer never end. (Monday’s fantasy: to be the day after Thursday.)
Before we get to reader reaction to a wide variety of Unsecret Shopper posts - some gushy, some poopy - let’s get to a story about new trends in U.S. consumer reaction to a variety of economic forces – which are pretty much all poopy.
The interesting (alarming) piece, which appeared on the front page and above the fold of last Monday’s Des Moines Register, talks about the fascinating (alarming II) trend towards us shoppers shopping less (alarming XXXVVVIII), and spending less time shopping, when we do.
They’re calling it surgical shopping. Store owners are calling it ARRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGHHHHHHHH! Pick your term - both are less than stellar news for retail employees, whose continued paychecks and dependable livelihoods, depend on us spending more time shopping in the stores they work for, more often.
As I’ve been rather pointedly pointing out to customer service trainees, this makes The Six Pillars of Great Customer Service, even more important.
Slooooowwwwwing down shoppers who are heck-bent on getting what they want and heading for the exits – with an employee smile ( ) a greeting (“Hi! How are you?”) an open-ended question (“What can I get for you?”) an extra open-ended question (“What else can I get for you?”) engagement/personal chit-chat (“Looks like we’re in for some snow. How ’bout them Cyclones/Hawkeyes? What cha doin for Thanksgiving? Have ya read that dumb blog by what’s his name?”) a thank you (“Thank you so much for shopping with us!”) and some extra polish at the end (“Have a great day! Come back and see us!”) – and they’ll spend more time, and money, in the store.
By not extending these basic courtesies to shoppers, employees (as I ”animatedly” express to them, till my ears turn purple) are making it waaaay too easy for shoppers to spend less, or go without entirely – and that directly threatens those employees’ jobs.
I hope they’re listening.
Pretending to be someone who lost their job, just so you can write a story? It’s a slap in the face to all of us who are really unemployed. Shame on you.”
“Wao, this brought back some sad memories that included getting assistance. About 3 years back I was pregnant and my husband and I had recently separated. It was tough and had to go thru DHS. I hated going to the Euclid office. I was already depressed and having another human being with some authority (the clerk that has what you need) treat you like you are unimportant and worthless, simply made things a little harder.
I wasn’t looked at in the eye, would not be responded to in full sentences and everything you described with Bridgette. Maybe its the same gal I had to talk to back then. I wasn’t worthy enough for her to look up at me? It doesn’t matter today but back then it simply made the process a little more painful and made me feel even worst than my situation was already making me feel. I hope this report is read my DHS and Bridget too.”
“Why in the world would you ‘secret shop’ a place that doesn’t sell merchandise? Why would you waste the time of good hard-working people to prove a point? These are government employees who were on the clock while they helped you, and since WE pay their salaries, it means that you’re basically stealing money from taxpayers. That means you’re breaking the law. You should be arrested.”
“There’s still work to do but at least morale at DHS has gotten better since I was there. It’s great to see some well-deserving people, get acknowledged.”
“Let’s just say they sit behind a glass window and are unfriendly.”
“I’d hate to have to deal with Bridgette, especially if I needed help. Jonnie, you’ve motivated me to work harder at my own job so I don’t lose it! “
“Bridgette is a stupid, rude (expletive deleted). I’ve had run-ins with her. If she was in a non-government job, they would have fired her (expletive deleted) years ago.”
“Great job Jonnie. You worked hard on this project and I appreciate your awareness. When people are down and out, we all need people who care. I hope DHS works on it customer service and hires more people like Rhonda!”
“Great post, Jonnie! And what a beautiful smile!”
“I read your incredible story about Virginia and it made me want to go to her Git ‘N Go, which is 10 miles out of my way. I went anyway. Sure enough, she was exactly as you described her. Thank you so much for sharing her story. Awesome job!”
“I’ve been a customer of Virginia’s for many years and was thrilled to see her get the recognition she deserves.”
“Thanks Johnnie! I feel much better now about skipping the polls this time around, while having to lie to all the customers who kept asking me all day “Did you vote yet?” Didn’t have the guts to tell the truth, so just said I was going after work. However, isn’t one of my freedoms as American to exercise free will and decide for myself whether or not I would like to exercise my right to vote? I do appreciate that we are allowed to vote in this country, and I do vote more often than not. So who is to tell me that I’m not allowed to sit one out if I should choose to do so? Whew – feel better now that I got that off my chest!!!”
‘I voted for one liar, and the other liar won. Maybe you’re on to something.”
“Who wants to vote for adults who act like children? I’m sitting this one out.”
“Oh Jon, there is a ray of hope out there. Some Democrat checkbooks got thrown in the trash today. The shout out by the workin’ folks was heard, thank goodness.”
“I’ve got a bad feeling about this. We’ll see…” (after reading it)“Yep, [my feeling was confirmed.] I believe you have a job for LIFE.”
“First of all I am not a young man. I am a middle-aged woman with a husband who just come through a quadruple bypass, only to find out he now has a brain tumor. I also have a daughter who is a senior in high school. I have an 83 yer old mother who is loosing her mind and brother who is a quadriplegic and needs help with everything. I work two jobs for a basically minimum wage. Yet still show up for work each day, pulling off a smile even though I really don’t feel like it, and trying to help as many people as I can. Who are you to judge me on sincerity? What do you want me to do? Bow to you? Kiss your feet? Follow you around and beg you to let me help you? From what I can see maybe you have too much free time, and you should think about helping someone else once in a while instead of criticizing everyone all the time. You just might find that it makes your little corner of this world a better place. By the way, I really don’t have time to be sitting here writing this letter to you. although, it made me mad when I read the comments you made about me for basically doing my job.”
“I love the Walgreens in Johnston! Everyone in the store knows me by name, and they’re always very friendly.”
“I’m a Walgreens junkie. I shop there at least 3-4 times a week, sometimes more. I love the way the store is laid out. And their prices seem fairly competitive with Walmart and Hy-Vee. The people are usually good to me, although they can sometimes be rude, especially the younger employees.”
“Walgreens customer service is as bad as Walmart, but their stuff’s twice as expensive. I’ll take Walmart.”
“I feel like I need to start paying better attention to the way employees treat me when I go into the store. I guess I’ve just been taking it for granted that employees don’t smile at me, or they ignore me. Does this go on everywhere?”
“Wal-Mart” combined with “customer service” is an oxymoron. Unfortunately, I see examples of the same type of lack of focus and interest in customer relations that I experienced at Walmart in most stores where there are: A. Teen-age employees. B. Immigrants whose cultural differences may be an influence.
“As an assistant manager for one of the stores you reviewed (in a different mall), I have to totally agree with your annoyance at not being treated with the attention and importance you, as a customer deserved. We are trained to greet our customers within a few seconds of them entering the store, and asking open-ended questions to better serve their needs is mandatory as well. I can’t tell you how many times I go into a shop and get ignored completely. It’s frustrating and insulting. Your post did give me food for thought about not having any unnecessary talk on the floor. That was too close to home even though we never get to the point your stores did, it still makes you think. I was happy our store was one of the good ones!”
“FYI…new Japanese place near Jordan Creek, Samari something, customer service was horrible! Hibatchi chef was great, food was very good, service blew! Just throwing that out there.”
“I just quit my job at McDonalds. Will you secret shop it?”
Jonnie Wright is a customer service evaluator and trainer, professional secret shopper, marketing strategist and host of The Unsecret Shopper Radio Show, Saturday mornings 8-9am, on 1350, KRNT.
Click to email Jonnie (email@example.com)
…and welcome to the ear which is bent, from the voices which are many, about the review which was Thursday, about the place that seemed like someone ran over its dog: Prairie Meadows.
A few points about the reactions from readers you’re about to read:
1. It’s not easy to be called out publicly for our performance at work.
2. It’s not as hard but still not easy to be the one doing the calling outing.
3. Employees and managers (former and current) of Prairie Meadows and their friends have every right to voice their feelings.
4. The Unsecret Shopper is a vehicle through which their voices can be heard.
5. The Unsecret Shopper is a vehicle through which consumers’ voices can be heard.
6. Consumers have the loudest voice of all.
Much of what I saw and heard at Prairie Meadows were examples of employees allowing themselves to be ruled by their “I,” in positions which require their “R.”
Our “I” is the most selfish part of who we are as human beings. It is “me, me, me.” It is the child inside us, surrounded by these adult suits we wear.
We shop (and gamble) in our I.
Our “R” is our most selfless part. It’s who we are to everyone else but ourself. It’s our title – as “mother,” “husband,” “manager,” “employee,” “friend.”
We serve, as employees, in our R.
That’s the way it’s supposed to work.
However, when people are unhappy in their workplace because of low wages, long hours, lack of accountability, overworked staffs, undertrained management, lack of staff unity, economic uncertainty and a hundred other reasons, it can become very hard to keep our unhappy I out of our happy R. Good people, happy people, hard-working people often struggle to keep their smiling heads above the rising waters of negativity.
That’s completely understandable.
It’s also understandable that customers don’t care. Why? They’re in their I. Their focus is on their own joy, of feeling like they’re being taken care of by happy people, not making excuses for them because they’re not.
The most important thing to remember, if you’re an employee of Prairie Meadows or know an employee who is who was featured in their Secret Shopper review, is that the review is not personal. How can it be? I don’t know these employees personally. I don’t know their “I.” All I am looking for is their “R,” their role as employees entrusted to smile at and greet and engage and thank customers. It ain’t personal, Sonny; it’s strictly business.
That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.
When the pain dies down a bit, what is left is a unique insight into our role – who we are to everyone else but ourselves.
Here is some insight from others into my role as a Secret Shopper…
”Your review of Prairie Meadows is off-base. I’m a regular there and I’m always greeted by friendly, smiling employees. Are you sure you weren’t at Terribles?”
“Prairie Meadows is embarrassing. My husband and I used to go out there when it first opened, but we stopped a few years ago because the customer service got so bad. How could they let that beautiful facility go down the drain like that? If you ask me, the management should be fired and some people should be brought in who truly understand what it means to take care of the customers. Thanks for showing what has become of a once great place.”
“I wanted to clarify our encounter as I remembered it! If you will! Thank you! When I approached you were deep in thought about something that appeared to be bothering you! So I approached you with a smile saying Hi! I owe you two cents ,which your slot machine had been locked up into a handpay,you responded confused with what was going on,so I explained to you an we got that taken care of it not being your money an I answered all your questions on where found money goes when left behind @ a game,so on an so forth. You gave me the impression you wanted to get back to your thoughts,which I interupted when I engaged you,by saying thanks an looking away as if you were done with me,so I said yep an if you need anything let me know an you said you would an I left. Had you kept eye contact with me my parting remark would have been your welcome an Goodluck as always!”
“Not that I’m arguing with you, but if you worked at a place that sucked out your will to live, you’d have a hard time smiling too.”
“Who do you think you are? Who appointed you the overseer of all of us “angry, unsmiling, unhappy” employees? I LOVE my job at Prairie Meadows, and share my joy with customers every day! Your review was a lie and you’re whole thing is a joke. Some expert! Get a life, you jerk!”
“Like I’m going to tell you my real name. : ) Not happening. I found your prose a little difficult to get through with all of the snide comments that were being thrown out like stinking dish clothes. To say that “a” manager is not at fault, the staff are just doing it wrong is unfair. You have no idea what those people go through every day working in the forced environment that they do. These are good people who are more often than not; treated poorly. You don’t get food thrown at you, you don’t get told where to shove your wallet I’m sure, you do not have to put up with the sarcasm that the staff do at PM on a daily basis. For you to sit and preach about what YOU think is good guest service,get a reality check, this is Iowa, we don’t need people flaking out on us wanting us to sign up for something we may not care to sign up for. People who over do it with fake smiles is cheap. And it cheapens the experience. I would rather have someone go about their business than have to worry about how I may or may not be offended by their smile. Go back out to PM like a real human being, go there often, then and only then will you begin to understand what the staff at PM goes through. Watch closely, it’s easy to find.
In the meantime, I hope this isn’t your only job.
By the way, that lady Carolyn that you mentioned, she waits on me at least 3 times a week, she is a wonderful woman. She is sincere. I don’t need to be treated like something I’m not. Just treated like a human being, and she does a marvelous job of that. You want all the glitter and glam, go to Vegas. I like PM even though I have a VERY good idea of what goes on.”
“Awesome review of Prairie Meadows, Jonnie! You hit the nail right on the head, as always. They’ve let that place slide, to the point where I’ll drive the few extra miles to Lakeside Casino, or even up to Emmetsburg on occasion. I refuse to waste one more dollar at a place that treats me with such disrespect as a customer. Keep up the great work!”
“Let’s see now. You go into a place, find a whole bunch of “problems” then offer (out of the goodness of your heart) to provide a “solution” to the “problems” you have “discovered” (for a price of course).
That about cover it?
A) A nasty heart
B) A kitchen table
C) An internet connection
D) Significant chutzpa
If you can get anyone to pay you for your “services” congratulations! Wish I would have thought of it. What a great con!”
“‘Prairie Meadows – your favorite place to die.’ I LOVE IT!”
“What you wear has absolutely no bearing on how much money you make, and to stereotype that is just ignorant. Perhaps you should have tried actually playing there before you rip their customer service. Ripping the cashier lady for not knowing how to play blackjack is like ripping a cashier at Wal-Mart because she cannot tell you the specifics of what their automotive department does. I’ve worked customer service a long time, and we are very observant people. Perhaps if you were participating in the experience rather than skulking around like a creep, more people would have been receptive. And stop complaining about “How can I help you?”, it means the same thing.
You sound like a desperate old man that looks to insult first, and get facts second. I would be ashamed to be you. I have read some of your blogs and it’s all the same story.”
“Yikes Jonnie…you get more hate mail than I do!”
“Thanks for the info. I go to Prairie Meadows after work and I assumed I was treated that way because I had on my work cloths and looked grubby… Maybe not!”
“The staff seemed to care a lot more when they first brought in table games. The dealers would smile at you and laugh and would encourage you and keep up your spirits when you were losing (which I did a lot of.) Now it’s like they’re all unhappy robots, programmed to deal the cards, take your chips and nothing else. Kind of takes the fun out of Iowa’s Favorite Place to Play…”
“Your style makes it hard to read your “review.” I think you’re just trying to be funny, but I gave up at the photo of the plastic horse instead of trying to slog though the rest of this.”
“Too bad something that takes peoples money…it made sense before I started typing.”
“We taxpayers bailed out Prairie Meadows when it was going under. And what do we get in return? A poorly managed casino run by a bunch of miserable apathetic employees. Thanks for shedding light on this embarrassment to Iowans.”
“I don’t gamble because of the staff. I gamble to win money. Who cares if the dealer doesn’t smile at me? I’ll trade the smile for a queen and an ace.”
“I bet on a horse at ten-to-one. It didn’t come in until half-past five.”
Jonnie Wright is a customer service evaluator and trainer, professional secret shopper, marketing strategist and host of The Unsecret Shopper Radio Show, Saturday mornings 8-9am, on 1350, KRNT.
Click to email Jonnie (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Monday Morning Reaction: Des Moines High Schools, Chocolate, Iowa State Bank, Guitar Center, Iowa State, American TV, Hy-Vee And A Homemakers Hero
Good morning, kind reader and welcome to responses to over half a dozen Secret Shopper reviews from folks just like you (unless it was you, in which case my comment sounds ridiculous).
Something else that is (before we get to your comments) was the ridiculously good customer service I received this weekend from Homemakers Furniture.
Long-time readers of The Unsecret Shopper (me, and another dude) might recognize this as HM’s second appearance in this blog; the first was back in March, in a Secret Shopper review of the store. Let’s just say it was less than stellar. Let’s just also say that Gary Strawn, Director of Sales for Homemakers, just said as much in his own written response, which said, in part:
“We strive to provide a great experience to our guests, but as you can see we still have some work to do.”
What a difference six months of work makes.
I maked my way into Homemakers on Saturday, shopping (for real) for a new bed and recliner. What I found (besides the furniture) was a staff transformed. Everyone – and I mean every employee, from the greeters at the entrance to the dozen employees I passed by in the store – smiled and greeted. Heath, who worked with me in Clearance, was wonderfully engaging. And Gary, bless his non-stop smiling, greeting, uber-engaging, hand-shaking thankful heart, made the impossible, possible by arranging for my beautiful new bed and recliner to be delivered that afternoon…
…I see your eyes rolling!
Did he make it happen in part because he knew who I was? Sure. Would he have done it for you? Absolutely. Don’t believe me? You’d make a great Secret Shopper. (To apply, click me.)
Look, I’m not telling you to shop at Homemakers; there are a hundred places between me and you to buy a bed or chair, not including yard sales, your Aunt Edna or just rolling with the lumpy old stuff you’ve got for another year.
Yet understand that you, me, all of us, blog writers and non, radio show hosts and not so much have the power to change the way businesses do their business, for the greater good of us all.
Homemakers proves it. Stand up, speak up and prove it yourself.
“Thank you for your visit to Dowling Catholic. I am a little disappointed to learn that we will not have a chance to welcome Logan to our school! I appreciated your comments and recommendations for improvements. However, I am troubled by your characterization of my comments regarding where is the best place to live in the area. I remember saying the east side is the oldest side of Des Moines and as you move west the homes are newer. I also recall telling you that I live on the west side because it is closer to Dowling Catholic. I do not recall and it is not in my nature to speak critically of any area of our community. The DCHS student body is comprised of individuals from across central Iowa as well as Ames, Newton, and Perry. At least 45% of our students receive some type of financial aid to attend school at Dowling Catholic. It is important to me and to our entire community that all students and families feel welcome and included. I would kindly request that you make the factual changes to your story.”
Dowling Catholic High School
1400 Buffalo Rd
West Des Moines, IA 50265
“…Tatia did obtain your contact information, in which I sent a thank you card to immediately following your visit. You had indicated to her this was your sister address and all mail could be sent to her since you were staying there. I’m hoping this is your home address. If not, some random stranger received a very confusing thank you from Dowling Catholic High School.”
Dowling Catholic High School
A BLUE RIBBON SCHOOL
1400 Buffalo Rd
West Des Moines, IA 50265
(It was my aunt’s address, same thing and yes I received it, thank you!)
“Thanks for your note and the feedback. I am glad you had such a good tour and had the chance to meet the our folks at DCHS. Tatia is a wonderful person and I am glad you were able to meet a number of others at school as well. Have a good week.”
(Jerry Doogan, President, Dowling High School)
“Thank you……… our administrative team looks forward to reading about your experience, celebrating what we do well and improving areas to ensure our public recognizes Ankeny Community Schools as an outstanding educational K-12 system. Jonnie (note, I used your name!) J —- thank you for the communication and I will share this with my administrative colleagues…. especially Tony!”
-Dr. Matthew Wendt, Superintendent of Schools
Ankeny Community Schools Administration Office
306 S.W. School Street Ankeny, IA. 50023
“Wow, Ankeny High School has not changed in the last 25+ years…”
“I had a couple of quick comments: 1. I enjoyed the radio show this morning (as usual) – keep up the good work! 2. Re: the school reviews, you were right – my mind is blown! Did you email the Supt. of DSM schools (I think her last name is Sebring? First name: Nancy? I’m not sure)? She should definitely read this!
“Thanks for the feedback via the blog. Cheryl and I have talked about it in terms of how it can help us directly. I’d welcome a return visit to talk in more detail about areas for improvement at UHS in regards to welcoming visitors and providing a quality experience to visitors…and potentially, our everyday clients. As an FYI, Mr. Kellar in band did not know your “secret” identity.”
Urbandale High School
“Jonnie – thank you so much for sending this my way. I have forwarded your blog to the Valley administration, district administration and our Board of Education. We really appreciate your observations – looks like we have some room for improvement!!”
-Kay Rosene, APR
Director of School/Community Relations
West Des Moines Community Schools
“Thanks. Each person I spoke with remembered you well. Have a great weekend.”
-Dr. Vicky P. Poole
Valley High School
3650 Woodland Avenue
West Des Moines, Iowa 50266
“Yummmmy…you just won me over!”
“Thank you for your email. I was surprised to find out that you were a secret shopper! I enjoyed reading your blog and found it to be very informative. I will definitely be using your advice. I have shared your review with our HR Department and we feel that we can really use this information to improve the quality of our customer service. Thank you again for all your comments!”
-Lauren L. Burgeson
Assistant Branch Manager
Iowa State Bank
2301 128th Street
Urbandale, IA 50323
“I appreciate your interest in Iowa State Bank, and read your findings about our bank interesting. Our customer service is very important to us and we continuously work to improve our relations with existing customers and prospective customers. Thank you for your time.”
-Chris Burgeson Commercial Loan and Marketing Associate
Iowa State Bank
627 E. Locust Des Moines, IA 50309
“I wanted to e-mail you and let you know that I feel I was misrepresented in your blog entry about Guitar Center. By taking our 5 minute conversation out of context and picking out the idea of customer service simply to not get complaints, and to deter theft, lacked journalistic integrity; and as a direct quotation, no less. I hope you realize that what you wrote me saying portrayed me in a negative and uncaring way, and I did not appreciate it. I do appreciate, however, that you had a positive experience in our store, and I hope that you continue to do business with us. We do all we can to take care of any customers, to make sure they have an incredible experience. Be assured that I will put aside any feelings of misrepresentation if I can help you have the same incredible experience with us in the future. This e-mail is meant simply to make you aware that it is unethical to represent someone’s words in a direct quotation, if they were not delivered as such. Thank you.”
“As a frequent shopper of Guitar Center, It was cool to see someone finally talk about their amazing customer service. The customer service isn’t just in Des Moines but is at every single location. They Help you with what you need. Suggest alternatives WITHOUT trying to make you spend more than your budget. They are a great franchise and well deserving of the review you gave them.”
“I appreciate your idea, but strongly disagree with your analysis method. If you went into the kitchen of a busy restaurant, would you expect to find friendly people eager to take and fill your order? No, you would find frantic, busy employees trying to do their JOB. These people would be annoyed (and rightly so) that you aren’t respecting proper restaurant etiquette and are preventing them from doing their job as quickly and efficiently as possible. Same thing with the university. You ignored the proper interface for university visitors and went straight into the kitchen. People (i.e. professors) trying to do their JOB, an enormous part of which is thinking about proposals, lecture notes and papers, which often leads to high levels of distraction. Did it occur to you that the professor who you expected to drop everything and start a conversation with you was on her way to class, a PhD defense, a meeting with student? All of these things are part of her job. Stopping to have a random conversation with a stranger in the hallway is not her job. The university has hired and trained people to do with such visitors, but you chose not to utilize them. Again, you had a good idea but went about assessing it in the wrong way.”
“I think you overestimate the importance of a hypothetical parent/student. Tuition and fees comprised only 20.3% of IU’s budget in 2008. (me: Besides, don’t you WANT employees at a college – or anywhere else – to smile, greet, engage and thank you?) Not really. It’s more important to me that they do their primary jobs well. At the airport, even if I see the pilot, I don’t care if he smiles or acknowledges my existance as long as he can fly the airplane. It’s more important that researchers research, teachers teach, and students study than it is that any of them sell their institution- at best that’s a secondary responsibility. The only retail operation you entered is the bookstore… and a college bookstore’s purpose- the reason it’s allowed to exist on campus at all- isn’t to sell merchandise but to provide textbooks and supplies to students. It’s not a selling oportunity, the customers should know exactly what they need before arriving. All they might need is help finding what they’re looking for. That’s how it was at my alma matter anyways…. while the bookstore may need to sell additional things to stay afloat, the uni doesn’t necessarily need the bookstore. In the end, I think your assessment is as relevant as if you ‘secret shopped’ your local municipal water works, public library, city hall, etc… Like state universities, such institutions exist to provide services, not to sell the public on the use of those services.”
“Mr. Jonnie: I was going to rate you as a company or radio program that just might pique interest, and be something worth while. After seeing and reading your review of an American TV & Appliance store, eg. the Des Moines store, I would rate you even lower than you rated the store.
You have no clue as to what you are doing, and if you were to get approval or live and get paid on a Customer Satisfaction Index, you would be searching for a job every week, after being fired on your third day on the job.
I know that you are apparently a fair debater, so therefore you will indeed take the time to read this rebuttal. I want you to know that IF you were to come into AN AMERICAN TV AND APPLIANCE store as a customer really looking for something instead of insulting or trying to make a good radio program by your entrapment of great sales people on a pretense to be broke, and unable to purchase, and acting like a vampire floating through the store trying to trap someone at something “out of the ordinary”, when you were a complete distraction to anyone even on the street, let alone in a place of business, then and only then would you get insight as to how great American TV & Appliance is, and why people come to the store year after year, and even meet friends there to spend time and sit around and talk.
If that Mettow would NOT have stayed with you then you would have said, “It takes an act of congress to get anyone to wait on me.” You do not have a clue, and I for one am very, very, repulsed by your lies, insinuations, and inaccuracies. To have you rate a great store or rate it’s affiliation, staff and employees as you just have, is very much like someone trying to brainwash the public into not believing the crowded stores on the weekend, frequented by hundreds of satisfied customers looking for more to add to their satisfaction. American is built on highly skilled, trained salespeople, and their record proves it. You have only just begun your “business”. American has been in business since 1954. American has built and expanded their business because they have indeed satisfied customers, and if you every need a job, you might want to think twice, because they will only keep you if you pass the certification of being a highly trained, skilled, tenured salesperson, who puts customers FIRST. If you feel that you will really be successful and rich by tearing a company down by YOUR rating scale, then your rating scale will crumble and burn, as well as your bank account, because you are trying to tear down a wall of success that is pretty impressive, and if you took a poll, you would find out that you need to start another business. Have you actually been paid by another store to make American TV & Appliance look bad, and lie and try to maime salespeople and managers to the point that the more you make them sound bad, the more you get paid?
Would you like to see the people or customers who will actually come into the store and wait for Mettow to get finished with another line of customers who have also waited for her? Why? Because she has stalked them into buying, and given them the worse buying experience they have ever had? Try to get people to believe your lies here. That is absurd. To publicise her name and lie and make light of her qualities that customers want, is to really be barking up a tree I wouldn’t be sitting in when they come for you.
Jason Young is the best, kindest boss you could ever have, and he is man that you can count on, and one who raises his family in the best way he can and loves his wife as if he just met her. He runs his store the same way. He runs it with respect and honor to the founders and corporate officials. He values customer satisfaction as top priority, and if you ever needed someone on your side when a product has failed, of which imperfect planet earth does produce, then you would want Jason on your side to find a solution to your need.
You need to try to go back to the store and walk through the front door and feel the WOW. It is there. It is in all American TV & Appliance stores. Any time a store or business has been “shopped”, it has never been in the manner that you have shopped. You could have tapped on the front door of the store dressed in a batman suit and gotten the same respect. If you would have shopped as a customer would have shopped, you would have been in agreement that American is truly a great place to shop, and they treat their customers the way they want to be treated.”
“Just who do you think that you are? Your arrogance of a professional person who has lived years with perfect customer satisfaction is disgusting. I think of you and your verbiage and ratings as those of a second grader defaming his teacher for trying to discipline spoiled brats whom have never heard the word “no” in their entire life. You remind me so much of the tree hugger politics going on today, when right is wrong and wrong is right. Mr. DeShong’s character and long standing of having had near stellar ratings for his experience with working with people and finding solutions to out of control situations, far surpasses any attempt that you have only begun against this strong, well established, wise, loyal, reputable company that he also works for. Your attempt to bring salesperson against management and ultimate corporate will not work. This company is strong because of their team bonding that begins and ends stronger than you can imagine. You apparently have an innate jealousy against such companies who work the system as our country as operated ever since, you know the date. If the salespeople wanted to work for a company who operates under the hammer and sickle, then they would have moved to Russia. The one thing that has caused this company to be great is loyalty to salespeople (the wheel, by the way), and the customer. When a satisfied customer shops at the store and purchase something and ask the salesperson, “How do you like working here?” The salesperson puts on a smile and takes a big breath and says, “I love working for American TV & Appliance. I’ve been here for many years and they are team orriented. They treat me like I’m family and allow me to treat you and all other customers with the same loyalty and treatment. It’s a great place to work because when something goes wrong, and there are many things we can’t control, but when things go wrong I know that I can fix it or get someone above me who cares also and does everything to fix it. All we ask of you is to tell us immediately.” The salesperson shakes the customer’s hand and smiles and says, “Thank you for asking.” You know something else Mr. Unhappy with himself Jonnie? I feel as though you are tearing down my mothers’ character because the American TV & Appliance you defamed, derated, diahrreahed at the mouth against, ISN’T THE STORE that I’ve shopped at. I am so offended at your arrogance, and I’m not done with you yet; however an apology wouldn’t be the worse thing that you could start with, and make sure that it is in a headline somewhere too.”
“I have a friend who was hired for this store. So now I stop in more often. I cannot say that I have seen many smiles. Which I am used to being a shopper of the Pleasant Hill Hy-Vee where the store is immaculate and your face almost aches from smiling back at people. I wonder sometimes if Hy-Vee headquarters ever secretly walks in or does the whole “become an employee and see how they train and work” thang. People have good and bad days. I know Hy-Vee employees have to work very hard and sometimes they are very tired and feel unappreciated. I think it is really ok for me, a Hy-Vee shopper to plant smiles…. in every isle. : )”
Odds and Ends…
“Some time back my parents, sister and I went to the T G I Fridays on Westown PKWY and had an unfortunate experience. We walked in and within a few minutes we were seated two tables away from the door. So far so good. The hostess tells us that our waitress will be right with us. Our waitress walks up about ten seconds later and asks us if we would like anything to drink. We order sodas. Still pretty good. Several minutes later she comes back with our drinks and asks if we’re ready to order. We’re not quite ready so she gives us a few more minutes. The next time she comes back we order our food and continue our conversation happily with no clue what our waitress is doing. After taking our order she continue her job for about five more minutes before her shift was up. And she left. Without telling anyone that they needed to wait on us. We patiently waited for 45 minutes sipping our drinks and getting free refills. Finally my dad went to find someone to figure out where our food was and why we didn’t have it on our table. That is when we discovered what happened. Although the other waiters were very polite and generous in getting us our refills they never once offered too check on our food or to figure out why we had been awkwardly sitting there for such a long time. The manager came out a little later and apologized for the inconvenience and misunderstanding. We got a discount on our bill and eventually enjoyed a lovely meal.
Jonnie Wright is a customer service evaluator and trainer, professional secret shopper, marketing strategist and host of The Unsecret Shopper Radio Show, Saturday mornings 8-9am, on 1350, KRNT.
Click to email Jonnie (email@example.com)
Summer? Summer?? Hey…hey, where are you going? Are you leaving already??? You just gave us three amazing Labor Days and now you’re shipping out? Dude, you can’t leave on that note. You didn’t even LEAVE a note! Seriously – was it something we said?
Certainly you know that I was just kidding when I complained about sticking to the seat of my car. I was actually starting to enjoy it. Even the scars!
And those dumb whiny comments I made about it not being the heat but the humidity, Summer? I wasn’t talking about YOUR humidity! Spring left that wet air here back in April – you just heated it up. That’s your thing, that’s what you do! I’m down with that!
And my July through September electric bills that were each south of two hundred bucks, Summer? Uhh…I know I sorta blamed those on you at the time, but…it was probably just a Mid-American accounting error. I’m SURE they’ll refund my overpayment by November!
And even if it wasn’t a mistake, my 12 inch color TV just SUCKS the wattage. That’s not your fault, baby! Bad TV! Baaad!
And when I cussed you out after I got so sick with that horrible sunburn and heat rash I got after working in the garden for four hours back in July? Now that I think about it, Summer, I went inside to cool off afterwards and fell asleep IN FRONT OF THE TV! Coincidence? I think not! Sure it wasn’t actually turned on…but hey, that ole’ thing must leak like Chernobyl – THAT would explain all the blisters!
So it wasn’t you, Summer! I swear! I was wrong! Forgive me, Summer! Forgive me! Pllleeeeeeeze!
I see. You’ve made up your mind. Very well, then. I understand. We all understand – a season’s gotta do what a season’s gotta do.
No hard feelings, okay? Thanks for being so great to us this year, Sum’. You were truly amazing: beautiful southerly breezes, stunning sunrises and sunsets, and very few buckling county blacktops leading the TV-8 News at six.
In spite of our silly complaints, we loved every minute of you.
Hey – would you mind doing us a favor? Would you come back a time or two over the next few weeks, Summer? We know you won’t be able to stay long. But it would sure be nice to feel the warmth of your smile again, before that jerk Winter comes rolling in - if you have time.
In the meantime…same time next year, old friend.
In summer, the song sings itself. ~William Carlos Williams
Onto reader feedback…
I want to thank you for taking time to visit Iowa State University and nearly every department to evaluate our customer service levels. It was a great reminder to me, as I am pinpointed in your findings being the only “Rita” in the bookstore, that I need to be at the top of my game each and every time I am on the sales floor. I take great pride in helping parents and students with many facets of their college experience, not just buying product from the bookstore. Assisting with directions to campus buildings, class schedules, explaining financial aid or simply listening to the fears a large university can present to a small town student are important to me. I especially liked your review of the “it’s all online” comments. As technology has increased, it is my belief that customer service levels have decreased which must be continually dealt with and trained. I call it “hiding behind the screens” whether it’s cell phones, pc’s, or ipads, communicating has become the most difficult customer service challenge in training our staff to speak and to engage. I will be using your findings to address our concerns. We have a 12 month training program which many focus on customer service. This information will be used as an example of how we must improve. Thanks again for the insight.
P.S. just for the record, I am an English major and would never begin a sentence with “Help you find something?” Typically, my question is “May I help you find something?” I have many other questions that I ask but apparently did not do that with you when you entered the store. I will work on a more appropriate greeting but with the way you quoted my question, it does sound heartless and I would have never said it like the way it reads in your text. In the end, I need to do a better job and thanks again for the secret shopper information.”
-Rita Phillips, Director
University Book Store
Iowa State University
Thank you for covering the Memorial Union as part of your visit to Iowa State University. The feedback you provided as a result of your experience will prove helpful as we strive to improve our customer service in all areas of the building. Thanks!”
-Richard S. Reynolds,
Director, Iowa State Memorial Union
Iowa State University
I feel like I have been arrested for selling beer to an underage person who produced a fake ID. Here is my rebuttal to your experience in ABE. I am sorry that it was not a pleasant one.
After your first statement to me, which was something to the effect of ‘I am looking for some information on your graduate program for my son’, I was somewhat suspicious of your intentions. On occasion people have come into my office that act suspicious and have later been detained, thereby creating a safety issue. Your demeanor and the fact that your “son” was not with you created a similar feeling and put me on guard.
First of all, in my 29 years of working in this department I have never had a parent come and ask for information on graduate school for their son. At the risk of being rude, I didn’t convey that to you. You asked for printed material for the graduate program which we have none. I directed you to our website, by giving you my business card with the URL listed, where we work very hard at keeping information up-to-date. In this era of technology and budget cuts, printed materials are not very cost effective or affordable. I guess I feel fortunate that we can still staff offices in the repeated years of budget cuts. Also, Live Green! is Iowa State University’s campus-wide sustainability initiative encouraging all faculty, staff, and students to be fully committed to and engaged in making our campus, its operations, and initiatives as “green” as possible. Secondly, where was your son? Again, in order to not appear rude, I did not ask.
You suggested that I should have offered you a computer to use. I would have, if I could have. Unfortunately, we do not have public computers in Davidson Hall. Computer labs are funded by student fees and only students have log-in access. I could have suggested that you go to the Library and use one of their computers, but as you noted when you left, it was raining and I didn’t think you would be thrilled with that option.
You also suggested that I should have let you talk with an instructor. We have many professors in the department whose days are heavily scheduled with teaching and research activities and who are also housed in four different buildings on campus (not right next door either). Without your “son” there and an idea of his area of interest (we have many at the graduate level), searching for someone to talk to did not seem like an option. If you had been a parent of a high school student or prospective freshman who was actually with their parent, there would have been many more options available in printed material and in finding an academic advisor (who by the way are located 3+ blocks down the street) to talk with.
Your visit has made me more conscious of my response to people as they come into the office seeking information. However, I do not plan to air our “dirty laundry” in order to defend the reasons why we can’t always offer what the customer wants.
One person’s experience does not negate the positive experiences that have been documented.
My intuition is still intact.
Thank you for the opportunity to present my side of the story.”
I appreciate the feedback. It is always good to know if you are doing a good job of taking care of our “customers” or if we are doing a bad job at it. I will ensure to improve on the things you suggested that I do better. It is all about taking care of our Soldiers or customers. Have a great day. GO CYCLONES!!!”
MAJ, IN, IAARNG
I’ve read your blog and greatly appreciate your insight. It’s good to have fresh eyes on a situation and I will definitely take your comments to heart. You are most correct, this is an awesome place to work, we have the best students and faculty. Again, thank you for the opportunity to improve my level of customer service. Go Cyclones!”
“Unfortunately, Jonnie, you were spot on. I’ve been working for ISU for 4 years and, even as an employee, to get someone to smile and engage in conversation is almost impossible. At least you managed to get a few cards. When I decided to work at ISU I pictured myself surrounded by intelligent, educated, open-minded, welcoming people. I am sorry this is not the case. I’m afraid the student body is following suit. I’m glad you managed to meet a few of those rare gems on campus during your visit. I wish you had come my way.”
“You bring up some valid points, but does it really matter if a receptionst in an ISU department office smiles at everyone who comes in? Is that really going to make people not want to come to Iowa State? I’m a Junior at ISU and I can go a whole day without having anyone on campus smile at me. If the University was losing students over it, wouldn’t they have done something about it by now?”
Thank you for providing me with feedback regarding your recent shopping experience in our store. I will be reviewing the information with our Consumer Relations Specialist in our Corporate Office…
Thank you for taking the time to discuss this matter with me. As discussed, I was disappointed to learn your experience was not more of an accurate reflection of the way we conduct business. You made valid points with some of the concerns you raised. We take customer feedback very seriously and take the time to individually address any concerns raised. We then use the feedback to make any needed changes to improve. We will, as always, work to improve all aspects of our company with the goal of providing every customer with an experience that is both positive and memorable.”
American TV & Appliance
Corporate Consumer Relations
“Horrible. I refuse to shop there.”
“I can’t believe what you went through at American! Practically their entire staff should be fired, and the rest should be retrained by YOU! J”
“I also had a bad shopping experience at American. I’m not sure why they have the greeters standing at the front as you come in. The employees act like they’re doing you a favor when they finally wait on you, if they do. In this economy, you’d think a company such as American would have to have their act together just to survive. Guess not. Thanks for the insightful review.”
“I sprinted to my car, cranked up Foghat, got home in 5 minutes, jumped into bed, pulled the covers over my head and cried myself to sleep. “
I hate shopping just for that reason. I am, however, incredibly grateful I did not read this review at work – because my laughter would have set off the fire alarm and chaos would ensue….
Do these people really WANT us to buy on-line???? Seems so…”
“Scheels? Why don’t you secret shop Kmart? They’re awful!”
“Why don’t you quit sneaking around these businesses and have the (courage) to walk right up to the owners and tell them exactly what you write in your reviews? You’re a coward, that’s why. You know they’d punch you right in your stupid face. GET A LIFE! GET A REAL JOB!!”
“I’ve been a member at Oakmoor at 10 years and never noticed all the signs until you pointed them out in your artice. Thanks a lot! J”
“Maybe they are covering up cosmetic blemishes on their walls, mirrors, etc.?”
Odds and Ends…
Your junk removal appointment is cancelled.
Please keep us in mind the next time you need to remove junk. We take care of all the loading, cleanup, and disposal so you can sit back and relax.
If you wish to book a new appointment, call us directly__________ or book online 24/7 at __________.”
-The 1-800 got junk team
(An email I received five minutes after I cancelled a pick-up time with 1-800 got junk. Listen to an interview with their quality control manager by clicking this sentence.)
“This afternoon I did my grocery shopping at the Hy-Vee on University and 73rd, in Windsor Heights. I won’t go back to that store after how I was treated today. I thought I’d share my story with you as testimony that poor customer service does in fact cause stores to lose business.
When I approached checkout lane #2 the woman checking me out, Deb, began scanning my items without ever greeting me, smiling at me, or even looking at me. As she continued to scan she never said a word to me, though she did scowl. When she completed scanning she said, “$75.75.” I ran my card through the debit machine and requested $60 cash back. When Deb’s drawer open she handed me my 60 bucks and then turned away from me and started to scan the items belonging to the person behind me. She did not thank me. Other than telling me how much I owed, she virtually ignored me throughout the entire transaction!
I asked to talk to the manager, whose name was Frank, I believe. I told him how I was treated. His response was a sheepish grin, a slight shrug of the shoulders, and an excuse that it was just Deb’s second day on the job. I said, “Don’t you have a customer service training program that your staff goes through before you allow them on the floor?” Frank told me that yes, they do, but he hadn’t had a chance to check in to see how Deb was doing. I responded with a very sincere, “If Deb just finished your customer training program you may want to seriously consider the quality of the training.” I told Frank that sometimes people will miss one or two of the pillars of customer service, but rarely does someone so blatantly miss all of them as Deb had done.
I told Frank that since I drive by 10 groceries stores every day to work and back I would gladly choose another one from now on. I explained that I am a human being and I deserve to be treated as such. I told Frank that if his store is going to promise a “helpful smile in every aisle,” they need to start meaning it and doing it because I am proof positive that their poor customer service DOES and IS causing them to lose business. I started to apologize for being harsh, but then stopped myself and instead told Frank that I was doing him a favor by telling him about my experience because most other people just don’t go back and Hy-Vee doesn’t know why.
By the way, Frank never apologized. He did not attempt to find a way to make it up to me. He did not tell me to please give them another try. He offered the excuse of Deb being new and of him not checking in on her. His response was just about as insulting as Deb’s treatment.
As I reflected on this scenario I realized that going into Hy-Vee I wasn’t feeling the best and thanks to the very poor treatment of one employee I left feeling even worse. I won’t give money to a business who is willing to do that to me. I talked to Frank in a very calm and quite way, but I hope he got the point and understands the negative impact of Deb’s poor customer service on me and ultimately, on their business.”
“The average date in Iowa for the first Fall freeze is October 12th.”
-The National Weather Service
Click to email Jonnie (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Monday Morning Reaction: Real Estate Agents, Kum And Go, Dewey Ford, Wal-Mart, KCCI, Keeping Retail Bathrooms Clean, Applying For A Job, And How To End “He/She Said, Jonnie Said”
All great things must come to an end: an extra-large four-alarm pizza from Pizza Pit in Ames, any movie with Leonardo DeCaprio (excluding The Beach) and this past weekend, which felt, for some reason, like one of the last real, amazing, true Summer weekends – at least before the barrage of Back to school, Kids! ads start pounding the airwaves.
Then again, it’s not like God won’t cook us up another one. (sniff sniff) Can you smell that? Off in the distance…it’s the enticing aroma of Friday afternoon, around 5:01pm. Ahhhh…
Until then, how about some blogging leftovers?
I also have something else cooking: posting video footage of Secret Shopper visits.
I began using hidden body cameras – extremely small video cameras that blend in with a person’s clothing, so as to avoid detection - in 2005, when I started The Buyosphere. The camera can be hidden in a shirt button, a pen in your pocket, a necklace, a cap, just about anywhere on your personage.
You say you could spot one on me, if I was wearing it? I’m wearing one right now and you can’t see it, can you, smarty pants!
The idea of wearing a body camera and shooting footage of a retail employee interacting with a “customer” is similar to what I used to go through with “airchecking,” when I was a “morning radio show host.” At the end of each show, I’d sit down with my boss and listen to the show I’d just hosted – my rambling, disjointed voice only.
Describing that daily self-flaggelation as “humbling” ain’t even in the actual gut-wrenching feeling’s zip code.
Yet it’s also an incredibly powerful teaching tool.
Same dealio with videotaping retail employees, and sitting down with them and watching the footage. Not much has to be said. The employee is usually too busy holding their head and moaning. ”I look like that????”
It cuts to a notion that I strongly believe in: We can teach ourselves everything we need to know, and what we teach ourselves, sticks 100 times better than what others can teach us.
The sage words of a five-college drop-out.
Since I started Secret Shopping businesses at random, back in February, I’ve contemplated using one of my body cameras to shoot footage as I Secret Shopped, then posting edited portions of it, or even the entire thing, along with that Thursday’s written review. I’ve held off because, first and foremost, I’m not in this to humiliate anyone. It’s hard enough being called out in public, in writing. I don’t want to pile on, by showing every retail employee’s frown, slighting of a customer or ambivalent handing back change, in living color.
I also know that my credibility – and my flat out honesty – concerning these Secret Shopper reviews, is, more and more, being called into question – particularly with the following reviews: (Click each to read it.)
Defending oneself against some blogging hack is completely understandable. But he/she said, Jonnie said, is a stickier wicket.
The problem is that eyewitness testimony – recalling the details of any one particular experience - is the most fallible. One Dealey Plaza witnesses believed JFK shot himself. You and I can both see the same event, and describe the experience in completely different ways – like going with your significant other to a movie, coming out of the theater and raving about it, while they thought it stunk. That doesn’t make us liars or mentally deficient (unless somebody liked Sex And The City II). It makes us human.
Unlike body cameras. They’re horrible at conversation, and almost never pick up the check.
And so the possibility of shooting, and posting video footage of my Secret Shopper visits has now entered the “probable” stage, and will become a reality, as soon as all the legalities are ironed out i.e. my attorney stops laughing.
In the meantime, titter along with amused (and not so much) readers, as they offer their feedback to posts posted over the past few weeks.
And enjoy your Monday, and your work week, while it lasts – cause I smell something delicious cooking, down the road…
“…Your findings have certainly got us talking more about these important issues of customer service, fair housing, and ethics. We plan to make them a priority in upcoming leadership seminars and training sessions. I wanted to follow up with you regarding the question you asked about minorities. I talked to IAR’s Legal Counsel, Paul McLaughlin, who provided some helpful information that I am passing along for your reference.
Real estate licensees, brokerages, landlords, lenders, banks, etc. are prohibited from disclosing demographic information about protected classes under fair housing and discrimination laws. In fact, if they did inform a client of the composition of a neighborhood, they may be assisting the client in steering to a particular neighborhood based upon a protected class of individuals and may be perpetuating racial discrimination. Brokerages do not keep statistics on racial composition due to fair housing concerns. If clients desire particular information they would need to research this information on their own.
As you know, fair housing laws were enacted to eradicate discrimination, and racial discrimination is ALWAYS unlawful. It is important to note, that not only do individual real estate licensees, brokerages, landlords, lenders, banks, etc. get sued for violations of the fair housing law, but the law is also applicable to clients and customers. A complaint may be filed against them or they may be sued for violating any of the Acts. Lastly, fair housing laws also apply to clients and customers that encourage real estate licensees, brokerages, landlords, lenders, banks, etc. to discriminate on their behalf.
I also wanted to share with you that REALTORS®, who are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, abide by a set of professional principles and code of ethics, and are committed to treat all parties to a transaction honestly and fairly. As REALTORS®, we are expected to maintain a higher level of knowledge of the process of buying and selling real estate. You can find the National Association of REALTORS® Code of Ethics at realtor.org, enter Code of Ethics.
Thanks again for the opportunity to visit with you [last week.“
-Carey Jensen, 2010 IAR President
Key Real Estate
501 S. Main St.
Council Bluffs, IA 51503
“Jonnie – Thank you for your interest in the real estate industry in Des Moines. REALTORS® are required to understand Fair Housing laws, which are addressed in mandatory ethics and law update courses. However, your findings may indicate that there are still opportunities for improvement. We will continue to make these top priorities among our nearly 7,000 REALTOR® members. We look forward to discussing the topics brought to light in your recent shopping with our REALTOR® members at upcoming training sessions and meetings. “
-Amy Smith, PR Coordinator, Iowa Association of REALTORS®
“Hey Jonnie …. love the idea of secret shopping the open houses. Thank YOU for doing that and I enjoyed the blog. It is a good reminder for Realtors of what they need to do at an open house. We will be sharing your results with our agents.”
Founder and Owner, RE/MAX Real Estate Concepts
”I am writing in response to this blog that was written by the (un)secret shopper, Mr. Jonnie Wright entitled, “The Unsecret Shopper goes Shopping: Real Estate Agents.” I will start by saying that the whole portrayal of me in this blog is inflamed and exaggerated. In fact, Mr. Wright’s blog is bordering on defamation given that it leaves out important parts of conversations and unfairly portrays parts of conversation out of context. Additionally, I would like to explain why my behavior, specifically in regards to Mr. Wright, on that day was not the epitome of customer service and salesmanship.
To put this incident in the proper light, I will let you know that I had a traumatic incident at an open house last year with a man. During this incident, the police had to be called and the person ran off and was not found. This was a very frightening experience for me as I was alone at the open house at the time of the incident. This man entered the open house, appeared to be locking the door. He then began approaching me menacingly and would not say anything. I then ran out the back door, calling my husband and approached through the front door. As I came in the front door, this man was coming up from the basement and told me that I had to go in the basement with him because there was a water leak. There was no leak. I told him that I would not go to the basement with him and asked him to sign in. He wrote down, “Mike Myers” and stated that I did not need his information. He then left before the police arrived.
Mr. Wright called prior to arriving at the open house. He had asked directions from me to the house and I gave him directions. People ask directions all the time but this is also how the above mentioned incident also started. When I approached the house, I observed that the signs I had placed on Thursday of that week had been removed by someone. When I got to the house, I noticed that even the sign in the front had been taken. I then attempted to call Mr. Wright back to inform him that the signs were not there to guide him but he did not answer the phone and I did not leave a message.
About an hour and a half later, I observed Mr. Wright approach on the sidewalk so I met him at the door. After having a little conversation with him, it was readily apparent that he was not actually interested in the home. I would describe him as acting odd. His questions seemed strange and rehearsed. This made me wary as there seemed to be no legitimate reason for him to be at the open house if he was not interested in the house. Additionally, the rehearsed nature of his questions put Mr. Wright in a “creepy” light. I felt totally uncomfortable with him being there. As such, I did not accompany him when he briefly toured the house. At the time Mr. Wright was in the house, I felt that my safety was more important than making the complete sales pitch to some creepy guy who obviously was not interested in the house to begin with. Mr. Wright was right about one thing though: I did smile when he left. I smiled because I felt relief that he was leaving and since he was leaving I could then relax enough that my normal customer service returned a little.
Mr. Wright had made me so uncomfortable that I brought him up at an ethics class that I took on the following Tuesday and Wednesday. Additionally, I told the homeowner, and family and friends about him and his behavior as well. Normally, I would not have behaved in such a way with a potential buyer. As a realtor, I do not have to work with someone who makes me uncomfortable. Therefore, I did not engage or try to gain Mr. Wright’s business.
I would also like to mention that some of the quotes were not complete. For example, Mr. Wright wrote “The second thing out of Tiffany’s mouth was, ‘We just reduced the price today.’” In fact, this sentence was in response to a question from Mr. Wright. The question was asking what the listing price was. I am pretty sure that is a proper response to such question.
This is my business and I am self-employed. I may work under the Prudential name but I only work off of commission. Perhaps, before Mr. Wright speaks again on a subject, he can write truthful quotes that are in context. Additionally, Mr. Wright should practice his “script” prior to arrival so he appears more interested in the house and comes off a little less creepy. Given that Mr. Wright stated that I answered all of his questions “competently” and my only flaws were matters of customer service, I do not think that his rating of “horrible” stands. This portrayal of me is potentially injurious to my reputation and business.
Finally, speaking of professionalism, it seems to me that Mr. Wright is using the unsecret shopper and KRNT to drum up business for his training classes. As such, I believe that he is portraying me in such a poor and exaggerated manner to get Prudential and Iowa Realty Co. to hire him as a trainer. Evidence that supports my thoughts is the fact that he did not speak to me about my alleged customer service problems but felt is necessary to email Prudential and Iowa Realty. His first sentence identifies himself as a “customer service trainer” yet he was not acting in that capacity when he performed his “investigation.” This type of business practice is underhanded and should not be condoned by KRNT.
I therefore request that, if Mr. Wright is to speak of this incident on KRNT, I would like the opportunity to discuss this with him on the air in order to defend my reputation through organized and informative dialogue.”
“Come on Tiffany, did Jonnie get your panties in a bunch? Face it, you sucked at this open house, maybe you do well at all of the others, but this time you blew it. No biggie, Jonnie was not going to buy it anyway. Your 2000 word reaponse just shows you let him get to you and probably did more damage than good. (nobody is going to read all of it anyway) He may seem a little wierd, but this is what he does and your comments will only fuel his fire. Watch the movie Glen Gary Glen Ross and then get back to selling homes!”
”Jonnie..thank you for all of the positive comments you made about me. Even though you misquoted me about the “lily-white school” (as that phrase isn’t even in my vocabulary), I am taking the comments about my being bright, engaging and vivacious as a compliment! I am glad that you liked the kitchen as well! I’m still hoping to sit down with you and get that offer written up! And, Jonnie, have a blessed day!“
”Jonnie, I think you need to know the difference between a Realtor and a real estate agent…ETHICS.”
“Thanks for sharing! I could not believe what some of them said!!! OMG! That is just sad, I thought we were all just people, not color coded!!”
“Maybe some of these agents thought you were weird and didn’t want to do business with you? LOL and for the Next Gens… come on… you really secret shopped the homeowners? Of course they were pathetic… they are not agents and there are trying to save a buck using Next Generation and not a real firm. If you need a tooth pulled you go to the dentist… you know…you don’t go pay a guy to tell you how to pull the tooth out yourself and who will charge you for the tissue you use to clean up the blood when you do it yourself. Although the one guy you asked about being a jerk… THAT WAS AWESOME! I sure hope he reads your blog someday… maybe I should send it to him.
Minorities… WOW… shut your mouths AGENTS! Be glad that wasn’t someone from the gov or you would be DONE!!!!!”
After reading your blog for the first time ever I have come up with the conclusion that:
1) You are a Jerk
2) You are a lazy (expletive deleted) who will not go out and get a real job.
3) You are not very smart…you have never owned a home? Sure just throw your money down the drain each month. Oh, I guess it’s probably because you can’t get qualified for a loan when you don’t have a job and don’t make any money…lmao!
4) There is no doubt if I was a real estate agent I would be creeped out by you and would have treated you with “poor customer service” as well just to make you go away.
4) You are sarcastic and think you are funny but you are NOT!
5) You are against same sex marriage and fertitity treatments for people who found the love of their life and want to get married to them and for people who for some reason canno’t have children of their own…You are probably single yourself and do not have children. If you do, I feel bad for them.
6) The relo-seller you talked about being a “jerk” is nothing compared to you and the reason he does not care is because he is going to get a relocation-buy out which is probably better than he would get if he sold it on his own anyway.
7) It’s not really fair you told the agent Toren what you were up to but not anyone else, so they were all just creeped out about you and probably thought about it and how they could have and would have responded differently.
I have seen the listing at 2511 Mansfield Drive (and you can see pictures of it online) and it does not have shag carpet in it anywhere, so really that makes you a liar. I wonder what else you are lying about. I think it was a pipe dream you had on night.
9) Since it is illegal to record voice, I take it you are quoting all these quotes off of memory. That’s not very safe…only a matter of time before you get yourself suied for slander…humm…good luck with that.
This will be the first and last time I read your blog. Your blog will never pay off and you will never be able to afford that half of a million dollar house…so sorry!”
“just thinking a little more about this… seriously you are a lifer renter… obviously you have your own set of issues… maybe you should work on cleaning up your credit one Sunday afternoon instead of messing with hard working real estate agents. And you know… I went ahead and checked out the house on Mansfield Drive… seriously YOU ARE A LIAR… there is no shag carpet so NOW we all KNOW you are not honest… so go away. And now we all know who you are so when you walk in an open house I am fairly sure you will be asked to leave.”
”I think it’s funny how you gave the highest rating to the person who clearly gave the most racist answer to the minority question. “The blacks really don’t start until sixth avenue” Really!! She said that, and you still give her 3 masks! Obviously there were some customer service issues here, but I think the main focus should be on any matters involving ethics. Giving a higher rating to a racist comment over someone who does not greet you propertly raises a question on if your head is in the right place here. Maybe your a racist who just can’t stand poor customer service, who knows!! Leave the secret shopping to the professionals, and stick to announcing the weather on the radio.“
”Have enjoyed your blog and coverage of this industry…“
-Rich Carr, CRME
Carr Knowledge, Inc.
Interactive Marketing & Advertising
“Dirty restrooms are my pet peeve–-and they are everywhere!”
“Jonnie…I constantly make the drive between Des Moines, and Minneapolis. I have my 4 hour drive down pat. I stop at the Kum and Go the exit before Clear Lake which always has a spotless restroom and the Kwik Trip in Owatonna, MN for my 2nd stop. This Kwik Trip always has had friendly employees, good food choices and SPOTLESS restrooms. This, along with Quik Trips are the best convenience store chains I have come across in the US. I would be curious to know about their manager’s incentives as I think that probably has much to do with the way their employees are trained and how they treat their customers.”
“I loved your tips on interviewing, Jonnie, and they work! I was recently down-sized out of my job after 12 years, and have been furiously interviewing for openings. After I read your blog post, I decided to incorporate some of your advice. The HR person who interviewed me, told me I’d interviewed for the position better than anyone she’d ever seen! I was offered the job, accepted it and start in two weeks. Your advice worked! Thank you so much for sharing your expertise. You’re awesome!”
“Good stuff Jonnie. Love that pic of your distorted face. “ -T
“I did review the Secret Shopping you did for us. We appreciate it as a training tool – in fact we already have kind of used it, so hopefully we can get a little better. With the economy the way it is, every single customer is extremely important to us.”
General Manager, Dewey Ford
(during phone conversation)
“(Alan) is full of enthusiasm but sucks at everything else. Interesting that he just doesn’t get it…thanks for the nice things you said at the end though. Those were also right on.”
“If you think about it, your spending your money on just a “thank you” and not the product itself. I personally don’t make a big deal over something small. Either way i can understand your frustration on not getting proper customer satisfaction you should be getting. Because it is your hard earned money. Also, nice work Jonnie.”
“On the morning of Friday the 9th 2010 approximately 7:30 a.m. At red oak Iowa Kum and Go I put 35$ worth of fuel in my Chevrolet blazer.drove this truck 10 miles and my truck started to not run right .so I called the store back later on in the evening store clerk answers so I tell him the situation yeah he said we have water in our fuel call back Monday morning to resolve with our manager.ok no problem I told him! Monday night my truck was bad!! Tuesday I took into shop Tuesday afternoon get truck back and 280dollars worth of parts and labor to my truck!!!! Who is responsible for this I want reimbursed!!! I have gas from my tank and receipt proving purchase plus other complaints in town from other customers in town please respond to my e mail…”
“Matt – thanks for your feedback about your recent Kum & Go store experience. I’ve passed this information on to our customer service group and someone will be contacting you shortly. Please know that we offer our customer service number, 888-458-6646, 888-458-6646, as a way to contact us when you have issues at a store. Thanks.”
-Lisa Lewis, Social Media, Advertising and Promotions Manager
Kum & Go
“I have been going to the Kum and Go on Hubbell regularly for about 5 years. I have always been treated with courtesy and respect. On the very rare occasion when Teri was taking a quick break, she would put out her cigarette immediately to come in and help me. 98% of the employees who have worked there have been the same. The 2% probably ended up being fired.”
“Although on many aspects of your reviews I agree with, I would like to say that you also need to think about all the aspects of peoples jobs. I have been going to the Kum & Go on Hubbell daily for 8 years and have never been treated poorly or ever not been greeted. I know those people work hard and long to maintain that establishment and don’t deserve to have people like you disrespect and degrade them in public comment. You obviously do not have any employees and don’t realize how hard it is to hire good ones. Judging by your writing and your “Prius” you have nothing better to do than judge others.”
“I would agree with you 100%”
“Hey – I saw you on TV Sunday. Added you to the “famous people I know list.”
“Congratulations on your KCCI Newsmaker segment this past weekend–great advertising! Kudos, too, on your engaging and enjoyable KRNT Saturday radio show. I have learned a lot from it.”
“I couldn’t agree with you more. Customer service is crucial to any business. Keep up the great work.”
“Where is that radio station located? Thought about syndication? What a laugh. I have been in soooooooooooooooo many Wal-mart stores that the service there does not even rate a capital “W”. Keep up the good work, or the work, anyway!”
“Would you please go back and Secret Shop Wal-Mart again? Their customer service is awful!”
Great And Not So Great Customer Service Stories, And General Comments:
“I had an unpleasant experience today at Walgreens, 1999 Grand Ave in West Des Moines, Iowa, that I would like to bring to your attention. As I approached the checkout counter I noticed a young woman waiting to check out before me. There was no one at the counter to wait on either of us. We waited for about two minutes before another young woman, Stephanie, approached the counter. Stephanie recognized the woman waiting in line in front of me and immediately squealed a greeting and then carried on a conversation with her as she checked her out. When it was my turn I stepped up and placed my basket of goods on the counter. Stephanie did not look at me, greet me, smile at me, or in any way acknowledge me other then to reach into the basket and start to scan my items. As she did so, Stephanie continued her personal conversation with her friend, asking her if her boyfriend and her had worked things out, etc.
I purchased seven items. Stephanie continued to ignore me the entire time she grabbed and scanned my items all the while continuing her animated conversation with her friend. When her friend finally walked out the door Stephanie turned to me, with a flat tone of voice completely opposite of what she was using with her friend, and said, “$41.77.” I scanned my card and completed my transaction without another word, eye contact, or a smile from Stephanie. As she handed me my bag, which had everything I bought in it and was therefore a bit heavy, Stephanie said, “Is this OK?” I told her yes, it was fine, and then I walk out the door, without being told thank you, good bye, have a great day…nothing.
All she said to me the entire transaction was “$41.77,” and “Is this OK?”
I have a good friend who is a customer service trainer and I’ve done some work for him. We train employees on the four pillars of good customer service: greet, smile, engage, and thank. STEPHANIE MADE NO ATTEMPT TO MEET ANY OF THE PILLARS OF GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE.
There are at least 25 places within a 15 mile radius of where I work and live that I could buy the personal care items I bought today at Walgreens. What I am shopping for is good customer service. I am shopping for employees who care that I spend my money at their store and who have been trained to treat me like the human being that I am, with the respect and attention I deserve as I spend my hard earned money on products in the place that employs her.
The very poor customer service I received today is not the first time Walgreens has done this. The last time was a few weeks ago, the store in Ankeny, Iowa. I called the manager of the store after that incident, but chose to share this latest experience with you directly via this email. I believe in letting management know when I have received poor customer service and I want to make the point that you are losing my business from this point forward as a direct result of the poor customer service I have come to expect from your staff.
Thank you for “listening, ” and thank you for your attention to this matter.”
“I have one for ya Jonnie!! So, I had worked a long 16 hour day and went through the drive up at Arby’s at almost closing time. Ordered the food for my “crew” because I was NOT cooking after a day like that. My order came to around $45 bucks. I was thanked by the guy giving me my order, because they had been slow and I had helped them reach payroll! Ummmm, Thank You? How do you even respond to that!? LOL”
“Jonnie, I read about you on Mike Sansone’s Google Buzz feed. Is it correct you need people who can make extra $$?”
USS: Mike’s Buzz is correct. Anyone interested in becoming a Secret Shopper for my company, The Buyosphere, should email me (email@example.com) or call me (515-480-4190). You’ll make some extra cash, and have some extra, extra fun.
“Dude! I just a really dumb movie with Craig Ferguson in it…were you and Jay Thomas separated at birth? Or better yet, has anyone ever seen the two of you in the same room together?”
USS: Yes. It’s Paul Giamatti that has people worried. Hmmm…
USS: YOU GET ALL MY VOTES!
“Hey, im Astarte and I was just browsing profiles and we found yours. we liked what we saw you should add me on yahoo so we can all chat, the sn is (ridiculous email deleted) oh and we’re ignoring msgs from strangers so just say it’s Jonnie from facebook if you do msg us ps. if ur lucky i’ll give u a link where u can see me and her get crazy on cam at this free site we just signed up on ”
USS: Oh sure, Astarte’s FB photo is of a young, tan, tall and lovely seductress. But why does this nagging voice in the back of my othewise vacant skull tell me that the person doing the “come hither” writing isn’t really a nubile 19 year-old girl with legs up to her chin at all, but a 55 year-old hairy dude named Hank who lives in a basement apartment in Queens and hasn’t washed his sheets since July 10th?
“Greetings.I am Barr David Chan, an attorney at law. A deceased client of mine, by name Mr. Michael Wright, died as the result of a heart related condition on March 12th, 2005. His heart condition was due to the death of all the members of his family in the tsunami disaster of the 26th December 2004 in Sumatra Indonesia. I can be reached at 60176193912 for more information. My late Client has a deposit of $18 000 000 00M left behind.”
USS: Ah-HAH! THERE you are, Hank!
Click to email Jonnie (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Monday Morning Reaction: Kum And Go, Signs, The Smile Project, Von Maur, Auto Repair Shops, Dr. Bolser, Best Buy, KCCI-TV 8 And Mom
“Did I really have to read so many references to urine, in those dirty bathrooms? I get the idea, enough already!” (Response to Kum and Go Secret Shopper review - more below.)
Uh…does it count if it’s not a reference to something that actually took place inside a Kum and Go (I’m guessing)?
With that, dear reader(s) (I never really know), we kick off the first day of what will hopefully be, for all of us, a week as good as the last one was, and not just because we were alive to live through it.
Speaking of experiences, and before we get to reader responses to several weeks worth of hyper-critical and entirely unfair Unsecret Shopper Secret Shopper reviews, I want to unsecretly thank Kevin Cooney, KCCI NewsChannel 8′s King of All News Anchors, for making my day/week/month/year/life/whatever’s bigger than that.
Kevin called me last Friday morning, out of the blue (which is where a call from the most-watched highest rated local TV anchor in The United States would come from, unless you’re Mollie) and invited me to appear on TV-8′s Sunday Morning Newsmaker show as his guest, to talk about The Buyosphere, Secret Shopping, why I call a store that doesn’t play music, a ”raTget,” and why I still haven’t heard back from Karl Chevrolet.
“Welllll Kev…I do have this huge pile of laundry to sort, and I’m kinda tired from visiting 27 Kum and Go’s, and…”
After much whining and arm-twisting on Kevin’s part, I hesitantly agreed.
Yet I admit, I had an ul-TV-ior motive for agreeing to the interview: I wanted to Secret Shop KCCI, NewsChannel 8.
Ohhh, sure, I’m a television broadcast veteran, and have seen and shopped ’em all: I’ve been just inside WHO-TV 13′s front entrance, there to sing a love song to Kathy Soltero, a former morning news anchor. (It’s a VERY long story which I will bore you with tomorrow.) I visited the old WOI-TV 5 studios in Ames during a 4th grade field trip, when I fell in love with another local TV icon, Betty Lou Varnum. I’ve even come within 537 feet of the front door of the IPTV Channel 11 studios, that one time when I was lost, looking for Pioneer’s headquarters, to apply for a detassling job.
But this was different. I was actually going to be inside a local TV station long enough to evaluate the quality of its customer service (something, certainly, that all shoppers are curious about), before being forcibly escorted from the building.
Sure, you missed one of the greatest interviews in Kevin’s history, and I’m sure you’re hating yourself for that.
But find solace in the fact that now you’ve got plenty of time to plan your entire day on Tueday around the release of THE SECRET SHOPPER REVIEW OF THE YEAR: The sordid tale of NewsChannel 8 that couldn’t be told… until now.
It’s the story that will forever change the way you shop for television stations.
KCCI will be evaluated, as all retail stores are, using the five pillars of great customer service: What was the quality of the greeting at the front desk by the receptionist, Kevin and others? Did camerapeople smile at me? Was John Mclaughin engaging? Did Dave Busiek thank me for shopping there? Did Kevin get my contact information, so he could follow up with me, should they need an emergency news anchor?
Plus, this review will blow the lid off TV station bathrooms. Was it CBSqueaky clean? Did Steve Karlin remember to put the lid down? Did Curtis Gertz wash his hands every time?
Most important, tomorrow’s prompter-to-potty exposé will answer the question: Do they live up to the promise of their marketing?
Is NewsChannel 8, really Iowa’s News leader?
All of these questions – questions that have been incessantly nagging you, tearing at you, ripping out your guts, you poor, suffering shopper - will finally be answered, definitively, once and for all, Tuesday morning, right here, by the only blogger in the entire known blogging universe with the courage and forsight to answer them…
And now, on to your friendly, neighborhood comments.
(Click “Part 1,” above, to read that post. Click “Part 2,” above, to read that post.)
“I was looking at opportunities that we had. Here were scenarios that were things that we want to focus on the positives as far as the people that you recognized, that were exemplary that did even some of the little things that were important. And then also the opportunity that we have to say, here’s some scenarios that aren’t something that we would consider Kum and Go worthy, and how can we improve upon that. And sometimes, as you look at those things, to read that and, as we kind of use some of those situations as teaching tools, is to recognize that every opportunity that we have, in an opportunity to touch someone in a positive light. And sometimes I think in the quest to do everything else that we want to do in the store, to make sure that the store’s profiled corrected, to make sure we’ve got the proper promotional signage in place, to make sure that the daily report is done, to make sure that we’ve got the floor swept or whatever those things are, that we’re still trying to touch people, and every opportunity that we do that positively, is another relationship that we can hopefully maintain with that person.”
Senior Vice President of Marketing
Kum and Go
Listen to the entire interview with Kevin Krause by left-clicking audio, below. Right-click to download it.
“Just finished up reading your blog and taking it all in. You certainly are thorough! You were right, there is some positive in the report, but certainly issues that will need to be addressed. As I mentioned to you before, Kum & Go is there for the customer. It is our intent to build and sustain great customers with even better customer service. We strive to provide an ideal customer experience.”
Meggan Kring – Director Corporate Communications
Kum & Go – We go all out!
6400 Westown Parkway
West Des Moines, IA 50266
“Thanks for taking the time to visit so many of our stores and share your experiences here. As you know, we care very much about customer service and the customer experience, so some of your stories here have been enlightening – we’ll be following up with each store directly to address the issues you encountered…”
-Lisa Lewis, Social Media, Advertising and Promotions Manager at Kum & Go
“Did I really have to read so many references to urine, in those dirty bathrooms? I get the idea, enough already!”
“To be fair, quite a few of this business have outdated business models. Not really much the brick and mortar Blockbuster stores could do. Times change.”
“It’s good to know there are a few good, well mannered employees at Kum & Go.
Jonnie I hope you’re using rubber gloves and had sanitizer after checking those bathrooms
(Click headline, above, to read the post.)
Brent: “We’ve been down there eight years, five years at a different location. I appreciate the critique but it’s not something that we really need. Our phone number is also on there if a client wants to call us, and we will meet them. I understand it’s good flash for you, to get your point across, and wherever you’re picking up sales. I would think you sell on consultations”
Jonnie: “What I sell on is trying to make it as easy for consumers to find you, no matter what the portal, whether it’s phone numbers on a door, hours on a door, everything.”
Brent: “I appreciate that. It’s a good way to go after it and hustle it. I appreciate what you’re doing. But it’s just not something that we have any interest in. Our clients know who we are, we’re a destination store, and if they’re driving by, I just assume they keep on driving.”
Owner, Eye Beads and Gemstones
(During a phone conversation)
“Thank you for the email and the mentions. Our beautiful little store in Valley Junction is a delightful way to be involved in our community. The perspective you share in support of local businesses is greatly appreciated.”
“In response to your comment on window signs, we are in compliance with the FDA signage for tobacco.”
VP of Marketing
Kwik Shop, Inc.
“Thank you so much that was very nice of you.”
“Representative has received your inquiry. You have our commitment to respond to you within two business days, if not sooner. We thank you for your patronage and send greetings and best wishes from all your friends at Kiehl’s.”
(Automated email response received from Kiehls, after sending head’s up on blog post to their corporate website. Still waiting to hear from a human being…)
“Thank you for your kind words. I will certainly share them with our 1-800-Bets-Off coordinator.”
Public Information Officer
Iowa Dept. of Public Health
321 E. 12th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319
“As a small business owner I’ve always lived by the quote: ‘a business with no sign is a sign of no business.’”
(Click headline, above, to read the post.)
“Way to go, Beth. Of course I have been the recipient of that smile since your very first one. Brought tears to my eyes to know that someone else recognized how special you are. Your family has known it for many years–we will leave the exact number out of this public comment. ”
“Very cool! Never have heard about this before, but glad you ran into Beth and surprised her after your surprise.”
(Click headline, above, to read the post.)
“Sorry, but I LOVE Von Maur and have always received GREAT customer service….”
(Click headline, above, to read the post.)
“I want to thank you for taking such an even-handed approach to this oft-contentious issue. I really enjoyed the piece. I am an associate of Mark Goldner’s (responded above) and I can assure you and your readers that he takes these customer service issues more seriously than anyone… His business is built around trust and customer satisfaction. He is constantly giving free products and services away (Car-X Classic Car Giveaway), he addresses customer service issues via the web www.facebook.com/CarXDesMoines and he follows EVERY service up with a customer satisfaction call.”
(Click headline, above, to read the post.)
“Very touching Jonnie, I lost my beloved German shorthair Buster on Easter Sunday of 2009, he was 9 years old. I will never forget the wonderful customer service, care, and compassion we received from Town & Country Vet Clinic, Drs Jeff & Susan Arnold. Have you heard the poem the rainbow bridge for animals?”
(Click headline, above, to read the post.)
“I have to agree to the previous post, that with all these ‘secret shops’ you do, you really seem like you come off as a creeper. It seems as though if an open-ended question were a person, you’d be dragging it to an altar. You are holding people in various situations and businesses to a single standard, with the overwhelming assumption that your way is the only way to do things. Should employees be knowledgeable, polite, friendly, helpful? Absolutely. You are not aware of a store’s policies in how they are to interact with customers as you unfairly judge them. I am not entirely certain of the purpose of this blog. Perhaps you are one of those who is happy to find fault?
“I was in line at a supermarket in Des Moines last week and thought about your posts, as the cashier looked down at the items she scanned and mumbled the total, never engaging a customer or looking them in the eye. She did that to the four people in front of me, until it was my turn. I said, “Could you at least say hi?’ I think I scared her!”
“Wanted to share this awesome experience with you. I was at Starbucks at the West Ames Hy-Vee. I ordered a Caramel Light Frappacino. They accidentally made a regular and apologized and said they’d make me the correct drink. Then, the cashier asked to see my punch card again (I had 5 punches left to get a free drink and the punch cards expire June 30.) He punched my card 5 times so I can get a free drink as long as I come in by the end of the month. I thought this was excellent customer service and wanted to share!!”
“Where do you get all of your secret shoppers? I’d be interested in doing it. How do I apply?”
Answer: You just did. Anyone who is smart, observant, wants to make some extra cash and help improve the quality of customer service for all of us, should send their contact information via one of the following portals:
Facebook: Jonnie Wright
“Question; If a customer asks not to have the specials read to them, is it good or poor service to continue the company mandated sales pitch?”
Answer: My mother used to read stuff out of the newspaper to me, even after I’d tell her I didn’t want to hear it. “It’s for your own good,” she’d reply, rambling on.
She was (W)right. The restaurant is wrong.
Jonnie Wright is a customer service evaluator and trainer, professional secret shopper, marketing strategist and host of The Unsecret Shopper Radio Show, Saturday mornings 8-9am, on 1350, KRNT. Email Jonnie at email@example.com.
Welcome back to the beginning of the work week, after a wonderfully long weekend honoring your Daddy-o. (Any striking resemblance the image in the above photo, bears to your own father, is strictly coincidental.)
Today’s Monday Morning Reaction honors readers of this blog, who felt compelled enough after reading, to respond. Let me take a moment here, to thank anyone out there, who has ever taken precious moments from their own day to sit at a keyboard and pound out an email, Facebook post or Twitter tweet, in response - positive or not so much - to an Unsecret Shopper post. You could send me cash, and it still wouldn’t mean as much.
However, for those preferring to send money, I’ll certainly give you that address.
Let me also give you a quick and wonderful story, about three very special women, and the power of Secret Shopping.
Quoting from my snarky review…
“No greeting initially,” “bathroom is dirty,” counter person said “seventy-nine” to me at check-out, without saying “hi” or anything else, etc. I gave this Casey’s an overall “mask” rating of one and a half out of five, below average but also in line with the other stores I’d secret shopped that day.
It can not be easy, nor is it ever, for an employee to have their performance evaluated by someone they don’t know, without them knowing it, with that evaluation then presented to their boss, their supervisors, and the public – especially without that employee having any recourse, or ability to defend themself, or a way to get back at the person taking shots at them, unless they start shooting back…
…IN A PURELY METAPHORIC SENSE AS THIS BLOG IN NO WAY SHAPE OR FORM UNDER ANY CONDITIONS FOR ANY REASON ENDORSES OR CONDONES PHYSICAL VIOLENCE OF ANY KIND TOWARDS ANY PERSON, ESPECIALLY WELL-MEANING FUN-LOVING BLOGGERS.
Yet revenge can be had – by being happy, someone once said.
I am very happy to report that, since that blistering review, I have been literally smothered with attention and kindness with each subsequent visit, by Suzy, Kim and Janie, three very sweet ladies who work at the Casey’s store on 100th street in Clive.
As soon as I step through that Casey’s door, I am unfailingly greeted with massive smiles and robust salutations. (“Hi, Jonnie!” “Hey Jonnie, how are you?” “Getting your usual cookie?” “Thanks for stopping in!” “Have a great day!” “See you tomorrow!”) I also watch as other patrons get the same rock star treatment.
There is no question that these three Casey’s store employees (and hopefully other employees at other Casey’s stores) have read the secret shopper review of their store. There is no question because they told me they read it, after it was brought to their attention “by others.”
It doesn’t take a PhD (good thing, because I flunked out of college) to figure out who the others were, and what those others likely said to them. I am not happy that happened. But I am thrilled as can be with the result.
Another result, I’ve since learned, is that they have a special nickname for me (which I’ll keep between the four of us, not because it’s uncouth but because it’s cooler if it stays as our little dealio). They’ve also shared stories about their loyal customers and how they keep them loyal, including taking a regular his newspaper, and even giving him a ride home.
Suzy, Janie and Kim have obviously learned that it’s okay to let more of their incredible joy and happiness out to play, at work – and their lucky customers are all the luckier for it.
They’ve also taught me something very important - that no five-minute secret shopper visit inside a store, can begin to tell the real story of the people who work there.
Suzy, Janie and Kim
My name is Mark Goldner, owner of the Car-X stores in Des Moines and Ames. I am sorry to hear that you encountered service problems in two of our stores. The issues you identified are not characteristic of the practices we approve of and I can assure you that I am currently working to personally resolve each issue.
It is my intention, as always, to ensure that you [and every Car-X customer] are satisfied with the service and conditions in each of our Car-X stores.
Thank you for your insight.”
Mark Goldner, President Car-X Des Moines/Ames
Thank you very much for the email, feedback and conversation today. It is all very worthwhile information and will help us continue to be better at what we do and develop a customer focused culture in our stores…Thanks again for you input! Good, or bad it is very much appreciated!”
VP / Auto Systems Experts, Inc.
P.O. Box 2370
Davenport, IA 52809
Thank you for the review. Tuffy Auto Service corporate marketing has already sent me a notice of your post. They knew about the article before I did. “The Man” is everywhere and “they” are all-seeing and all-knowing.
You brought up some very good points in your article. The auto industry has a long way to go in customer service and building customer trust. I try to treat people the way I want to be treated when I am out in town. It seems to work. I really enjoy selling service and fixing peoples problems. I don’t often get to meet people on their best day. People tend to be very nervous or upset when their car is not working right. This can lead to some difficult customer service encounters. I always keep that in the back of my mind.
Hydraulic etch-a-sketches are on special this month, you get one half price with the purchase of one gallon of blinker fluid. I’ll even throw in a free battery rotation!
By the way, I cleaned the restroom this morning.”
“I sure am glad I have my own personal GM World Class Technician. I know I can trust him. “
“No offense, Jonnie, (or maybe a lot of offense as it seems your “shops” are biased and laced with offense), but you are not some impartial person.
You are just some guy, who has no real job, working for…..who knows….a blog like a billion other people do, but you have some sort of agenda. What that agenda is….who cares? But you write about it.
The point is, what your little opinion amounted to in Polk County has no relevance, nor did your “life’s work”.
You’ll simply be a person who tries to be more than they are, more important than they are, by blogging (tweeting?) and trying to convince the masses of idiots that you have something smart to say.
Good luck on that. Living on food stamps are you?”
“Love it… I don’t live anywhere near you however I do enjoy your writings….”
“I had to go into a parts store, O’Riley’s…bad,bad,bad! They actually looked at me and then looked back down at what they were doing and left me standing there for 3 minutes until one of them yelled to the back that they needed more counter help! I guess they don’t think that maybe, just maybe a woman just MIGHT have a clue of what they need!!! I was really not happy with them or the way they treated me. I WON’T be back there EVER AGAIN.”
“FYI the O’Rileys auto part store on SE 14th have the nicest guys working there…they even smile. It’s crazy! ”
“I enjoy reading your posts…”
I just finished reading your blog, which was sent to me by Iowa Veterinary Specialties hospital administrator, Eric DeTemmerman.
I first want to send you my deepest condolences for Emmie. Having been down the end – of – life road many times, I know there are no magic words of comfort that will make the pain of those last few hours go away. Your wonderful write-up of a very special family member will help to clear the way for all the incredibly happy memories with Emmie to return.
I also wanted you to know – you are right. I have had the honor of knowing Dr. Karl Bolser, since before he graduated from Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine 20 years ago. He is both a true friend and an extraordinarily talented emergency veterinarian. Emmie could not have had a more kind, compassionate, knowledgeable doctor in her final time of need. I am very glad my friend, Karl Bolser, was there for you too.”
Lyne Anderson-Neal CVT
ISU College of Veterinary Medicine class of 2013
“I’m so sorry for your loss of beloved Emmie. What a treasure the last years of life with her – indoors. Take time to savor those happy memories. Love the story. Very moving.”
“Only one thing bad about our fuzzy family members…. they don’t live nearly long enough for us. Thanks for your story.”
“That made me cry. What a great tribute to Emmie, Jonnie! Losing a beloved pet is so hard. Allow yourselves to grieve.”
“I’m so sorry.”
“So sorry for your loss, Jonnie and Lori. It was only 2 weeks ago that I too had to make that decision. Heart breaking. Take care and thanks for sharing.”
“Aww, Emmie looks like she was a beautiful dog. So sorry about your loss.”
“Really sorry about your and Lorri’s loss, Jonnie. Sounds like Emmie was a great dog, as most are. I hope the void left behind by her loss can be filled with happiness of her memories.”
“Thank you for the beautiful tribute to Emmie. Thank you for the way you brought to life the joy she brought you as well as the joy she experienced with you. No other words can be found right now…just a tidal wave of emotions.”
“Dear Mr. Wright,
Thank you for writing Hy-Vee and for your kind compliments about Kim at our West Des Moines store on Grand.
I’ve forwarded your message to Andy Streit, store director at that location so he can share your message with Kim and the rest of his staff. I’ve also forwarded your message to Andy’s supervisory officers here at our corporate office so they can share in the excitement.
Thank you again for writing us about Kim!”
Customer Service Representative
What a great concept!! I am so thrilled to know that you were able to reward an employee of Grand Avenue Hy-Vee for being pleasant and smiling. Kim is a wonderful person and a great representative of Hy-Vee. I will be sure to let everyone know what a great job Kim is doing and give her the praise due. This is a great way to “reward something done well” and I believe it will be contagious – hopefully we will be seeing smiles everywhere!
Thanks for taking the time to write, Jonnie; it was a great start to my morning to get such a good report. Sometime when you are in, please feel free to ask for me, I’d love to meet you. Perhaps, I will smile at you before I even know who you are.
Thank you, have a great day.”
I have received your e-mail regarding your comments at our Casey’s General Store in Norwalk #2, IA.
Thank you for taking the time to e-mail us with your positive comments. We pride ourselves in offering only quality products and service to our customers. I am very happy that we were able to serve you.
I will forward you e-mail to our District Manager, Kia Taylor. I assure you, she will take the necessary steps to recognize this valuable Casey’s employee.
We value your patronage and welcome your feedback. We look forward to serving you in the future!
Sandy Kamp | Store Operations Department
Casey’s General Stores, Inc.
One Convenience Blvd. Ankeny, IA 50021-9672
“Thank you for this post, Jonnie. It was a breath of fresh air and a much-needed warm, fuzzy reminder about what’s important in this life!”
I would like to thank you for your candid and detailed appraisal of our stores customer service on the day of your visit. We spend considerable time and effort training our employees to provide a great customer experience to all of our customers. The shop has been shared with every employee and manager in our store to help them experience the frustration that a customer may go through if we do not ask the right questions and pay sincere attention to their individual needs. Reading your appraisal of our store was humbling, embarrassing and is being used as a catalyst for change. I would also like to offer you an open invitation to speak with my leadership team about improving our store from a customer’s perspective.
Thank you and we hope to have another chance to show or improvements on your next visit with us.”
4100 University Ave.
West Des Moines, Iowa
“And….who are you, Jonnie? Some middle-aged guy that works for an unknown local AM radio station and blogs to his 5 to 200 area devotees? Yet you claim to be some sort of “trainer” in customer service and are a “professional”, when it comes to these area shops. Seriously, who do you train? What companies elicit your expertise? I really want to know, as it seems you are some local unknown hack, that I see every now and then on the local blogs.
For instance….Agent Hildreth. You didn’t mention in your blog that you called him a liar for not having a business card. I know this guy personally and only caught wind of your unknown blog via him. He didn’t have biz cards. You were very antagonistic with him; basically you were a jerk, because you felt he had to give you his full name to you. You felt you were entitled to his full name. This is a guy who had clients look his name up in phone book in the past and have had them call him at home. He is not comfortable with giving out his full name. If you can’t respect that, then that is your problem, honestly. There will never be an instance where employees will be required to give out there full names in any retail environment if they don’t wish to and that is entirely your problem if you don’t agree to it. If you have a problem with that, then you will simply have to get over it. You got a business card and full name from a previous Agent in your day of “bias”, which you also didn’t mention in your blog, and she is in leadership – you called Kim “he” by the way in your blog. Great job there…. so much for your penmanship or your ability to notice who you were talking to….
I shop here a lot, as I’m in the area, and known some people here. It seems you were on a mission to only notice how the various associates greeted you in the store. While you somewhat acknowledge that you got contacted in every department, because they didn’t ask open-ended “opening statements” to you, you grilled them and downgraded them. You gave no kudos to the people who did well after, except Mike.
Stop to think…when you are asking personal questions of the associates in the stores you visit, don’t you think that those associates find it odd of the questions you ask?
Seriously, if a client or an employee of a store started to ask where I grew up, what my full name was, what high school I went to, I’d think there was something very odd about them, or something very wrong about them. Like there is something odd about you…
Maybe you should rethink your approach on people, Johnnie. Some may think you a stalker, or a very odd person of the personal questions you ask. I would never give you my full name, for instance, as you seem mentally unbalanced.”
“I read through the whole thing without finding any mention of the overwhelming b.o. smell in that store. The last time I was literally holding my breath – just can’t take it any more.”
“I love [the Best Buy in Ames]. Even when you call them to ask if they have something in stock, they are very helpful, offering to set it aside for you to come in and get it. I think that’s great!”
“I’m at Menards in the DM Metro and they could definitely benefit from your visit. Rude w/attitude.”
“Can I secret shop for you? It looks like you have a blast!”
“Von Maur has a live pianist. Doesn’t that count?”
Great idea. I’m sending this one to Target Corporate.
Jonnie Wright is a customer service evaluator and trainer, professional secret shopper, marketing strategist and host of The Unsecret Shopper Radio Show, Saturday mornings 8-9am, on 1350, KRNT. Email Jonnie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another glorious late-Spring weekend, along with today, another day that bids adieu to it, and the promise of many more of each, as we quickly approach Summer’s official appearance at the party.
Welcome to Monday!
Your friendly Unsecret Shopper’s usual M.O. on day 1 of the new work week is to bombard you with reader reaction to the prior week’s blog posts. That would include Thursday’s Secret Shopper review of Best Buy, for which there are many comments to share.
Let’s move all of that into next week, shall we? All of that “Best Buy rocks and you stink, Jonnie” or “Best Buy stinks but you stink less” feels out-of-place to my heart, following a happy weekend that felt like a Santa’s gift bag stuffed full of fun toys.
Especially when we have two more winners in THE SMILE PROJECT!
Whoo! Whoo! Whoo! Whoo! Whoo! Whoo!
The Smile Project began two weeks ago today, as a way to acknowledge and reward those happy people working with the public, who share their joyful spirit with the customers they serve, in the form of a smile.
Anytime I see someone working in a retail setting who smiles while they’re engaging me, they get $25 cash, on the spot, along with a photo taken of them and their pearly whites, which is then shared with you.
After 14 days and dozens of encounters with retail staff, I’d not seen a lot of smiling faces – only one, actually, profiled the following day, Tuesday May 25th, in First Winner In The Smile Project And Customer Service Quiz II.
Then, on Friday of last week, and again yesterday, Sunday, it was BOOM! and then, again, BOOM! 64 pearly whites, spread out inside two happy mouths, attached to the beautiful faces of Katie, who works at Casey’s in Norwalk, and Kim, who is employed by Hy-Vee on Grand.
The reaction of both young women, after being told they’d each just won $25, and why, was as fun to watch as you’d imagine. I’m going to try – wait…Yoda says, “Do or do not. There is no try.” Okay, I’ll just make sure it gets done…to video capture and download reactions of future Smile Project winners on the trusty Blackberry, so you can enjoy them as much as I, and they, do.
For now, here are the girls, effortlessly recreating their smiles.
When I told Katie she’d just won $25, she wasn’t quite buying it, at first.
“Is this serious? Am I on Candid Camera or something?”
She became a believer when I put a 20 and a 5 on the counter.
After I’d left the store and drove off, I remembered I’d forgotten something and went back for it. Before I entered the store again I snuck a peek through the glass door and sure enough, there was Katie, smiling away at patrons, something she’s probably been doing without knowing she was doing it, since she was hired.
Now everyone knows it, Katie. Great job!
At Hy-Vee on Grand, I didn’t immediately tell Kim but went first to Mike, a store manager, who couldn’t stop smiling after I explained everything to him.
He put up a “This Register Closed” sign so Kim could come over and hear the news.
“This is such a great idea,” she beamed. “I love this!”
Probably as much as lucky Hy-Vee customers love seeing your incredible smile, Kim. And I promise you, none of them take it for granted. Awesome job!
When and if you visit the Norwalk Casey’s, or the Hy-Vee on Grand, look for Katie and Kim, who are happy to help you, and happy people, period.
Besides Katie (1) and Kim (2), here are 18 more reasons for all of us to smile today, at work, at home and at all points in-between.
3. Because somewhere, someone is thinking about us, and smiling.
4. Because life is so silly that sometimes, we’ve just gotta smile.
5. Because somebody who is watching us, may really need a smile.
6. Because as someone once said, “The world always look brighter from behind a smile.”
7. Because if she can smile, so can we.
8. Because a smile goes so good with a good joke, like this one:
“A scientist who was successful at cloning frogs, cloned one who could talk. But soon the frog began to swear. The scientist tried everything he could think of, but the frog would not stop swearing. Then one day he clacked two spoons together and the frog jumped off the table and “croaked.” Soon after, the frog police arrived and arrested the scientist.
The charge? Making an obscene clone fall.”
9. Because smiling relieves stress, boosts our immune system, lowers our blood pressure, releases serotonin, makes us look younger and seem more successful.
10. Because if we smile, we live longer.
11. Because you can make $25 by doing so.
12. Because we’ve got limited time on Earth, and unlimited smiles while we’re here.
13. Because when we get home, he/she will be waiting for us.
14. Because something worth smiling about is going to happen today – so why not get a jump on it?
15. Because this hippo just got the joke from #8.
16. Because as someone once said, “There are thousands of languages in the world. But a smile speaks them all.”
17. Because if he can smile, so can we.
18. Because a smile makes us look more attractive.
19. Because life just seems more fun when we smile.
20. Because you may have forgotten how – but you still can.
Smile. God loves us.
Jonnie Wright is a customer service evaluator and trainer, professional secret shopper, marketing strategist and host of The Unsecret Shopper Radio Show, Saturday mornings 8-9am on 1350 KRNT. Email Jonnie at email@example.com.
Tuesday Morning Reaction: Movie Theaters, Jordan Creek Mall, Target, The Pain Of Criticism And Radio Show Podcast
After a glorious sun-kissed three days in which we honored the living and the fallen who defend our nation’s freedom, welcome back one and all to Monday, kindly positioned by God this post-holiday week to fall on Tuesday.
Today’s post is the first that will offer the complete Podcast of the previous Saturday’s Unsecret Shopper Radio Show, which I host on Saturday mornings, 8-9am on 1350 KRNT.
In this case it’s the show from Saturday May 29th, which features my overview of the Secret Shopper review of Des Moines Movie Theaters, my conversation with Greg Mahon, family consultant for The Varsity Theaters, one of Iowa’s oldest movies houses, plus a break-down of some of the questions and answers from The Customer Service Quiz II.
Give the show a listen. I think you’ll enjoy it, or at least find it interesting or, if it fails that, something for background noise while you cruise the social networking highway.
Today’s post also highlights a small but passionate handful of reader comments on previous Unsecret Shopper musings, mostly from parties directly involved and affected by Secret Shopper reviews.
Some of the feedback you’ll read today is reflective of that from other employees, whose actions have been brought to light in previous Secret Shopper reviews.
I feel a tremendous empathy for employees whose customer service interactions – which they believe are between them and me – are instead being clandestinely put under a microscope, evaluated, judged and graded, for all the blog reader world and radio audience to see and hear.
I have a greater empathy for business owners, managers and staffs, whose livelihoods depend on an inter-connected chain of employees and whose ability to deliver the four pillars of customer service – smile, greet, engage and thank – will determine that company’s profitability, and ability to continue to deliver a paycheck.
I save my greatest empathy for you and me, the shoppers - who, as Cindi Lauper sang, just want to have fun. Yet our joy of shopping over the years has taken a beating, pummeled by the unsmiling faces disinterested actions of ambivalent, unengaging and yes, even rude retail staff.
No more. Those days are over.
And so as you read these responses, and previous reaction to past reviews from employees, ask yourself this; how would you react, if someone were evaluating your customer service performance? How would you handle it? Would you be defensive? Would you make excuses? Would you blame the shopper?
Or, would you be humble, apologize and accept responsibility? Would you allow yourself the gift of being vulnerable, of admitting that you are flawed, as we all are, that as hard as you try to be right, you can be wrong? Would you grasp it as a teachable moment, an opportunity to be better at what you do and how you do it? Would you see the constructive criticism offered as a gift, to be unwrapped and used, for your own betterment?
Criticism hurts. It can never hurt us personally if offered by someone who doesn’t know us that way but…that does not mean that it does not hurt. Believe me, I feel this. Writing these evaluations, regardless of their intent, hurts my heart. I am a human being, evaluating fellow human beings, my brothers and sisters on this Earth.
Yet in the end, the goal seems worthy of a little pain – for the promise of a greater good, for us all.
After all, isn’t that what the brave men and women in our United States Armed Forces have fought and died for, and continue to fight and die for, today, and for the past 234 years – to maintain the greater good for us all?
We just honored them. Let us continue to do so, in a small but powerful way - by serving happy, shopping happy and simply being happy.
“I read your blog entry and I appreciate the comments and observations made about our staff and facility. They were very helpful and will be pointed out to the entirety of my staff. Thank you.”
Fleur Cinema & Café
4545 Fleur Drive
Des Moines, IA 50321
‘Thank you for doing a great service for the businesses in the city of Des Moines. All of us can learn a lot from your blog and your show. Keep up the great work.”
(from an interview on The Unsecret Shopper Radio Show, on 1350 KRNT)
“The following comment has been received by Carmike Cinemas. Please allow 3-5 business days for us to respond accordingly.”
-Carmike Cinemas Automated Response, from their web site
“After reading your fascinating review of Des Moines movie theaters, I had it in the back of my mind as I took my family to Cobblestone last night. Sure enough, it was exactly as you said. We never got more than a “hello” from the ticket lady and a “would you like to try…” etc from the kid at the snack bar. With the high price of tickets and snacks, you’d think the staff could manage something better than that.”
“I don’t go to a movie for the customer service, I go for the movie. Who cares how employees treat you?”
“$50 dollars” Redundant? Or just lots of dollars to spend today? ”
“I honestly love this article. The man is not only witty, but is extremely honest to at least himself. He criticizes based on his first perception, without any real follow through. It’s good and please, do not mark me as a “troll” just yet. I like to shop at target, as much as any other place. Music can be an important thing, not only to the shopper but to the worker as well. Now having said worker drone around the store like a robot hunting down people seems a bit obscene. With the whole radio ordeal, again I agree, it seems loud and disruptive. What really makes me chuckle is the location you decided to go to. Out of all the targets you could have chosen, I would say you picked the rotten apple. Oh was that witty? Anyways, people are just people, some may act more human then others. In my opinion I hope retail is taken over by robots, so some of the few decent humans can be spared from the barrage of criticism and humiliation that working retail brings. Now for my constructive criticism for you, good sir, get a real job.”
“Please come shop at the 35th Street Target where I work. I smile all the time! ”
“I find your comments about my store Jos. A. Bank intersting. First of all I noticed you come into the store right away and I noticed you walked very quickly behind some of our on floor shelving. When you did come out from behind them I made eye contact with you right away and said hi. Perhaps you did not hear me? That was with in 10 seconds of your comming into the open. I could not leave my customer because I was trying to solve a customer service problem. I also dont believe in having to babysit customers. My customers are adults who dont need that. I would normally greet you by asking “how are you today” and are you finding something you like, or have you shopped at Jos. A. Bank before? From there, depending on your responce, we would have a coversation as apposed to my instantly trying to sell you something you dont need, or are not interested in. Part of my job is to discover your needs and wants. That cant be done with out a two way conversation. I also like to provide my customers with information on the Jos. A. Bank company. Since you were new to the store and I realized you were shopping my store, I did not want to interupt that experence since we have lots of very interesting merchandice. I did not want to deprive you of that experience. Our store is a destination store. So most people who come into it are looking for something. Part of my job is to discover what that is. It cannot be done in a formulated way that so may company people and secret shoppers think it should be. Every customer is different and requires a different approach. Just the fact that I new you were shopping me should tell you that your abillity to deceive me did not work. I have been in this business for a long time and I know the lookers, and the fakers, from the real customers. I also felt we had an interesting and complimentry conversation after you told me what you were realy about. I would also mention that when shopping different stores know your product and how that stores product compaires to its competition intown or in the the rest of the country, both in price and quality. One last comment: It is not my job to sell you merchandise the first time you come into my store. It is my job to make you feel comfortable and not hassled while you are in my store. so the hope is, if you dont buy something the first time, you will come back and shop my store in the future.
…Just a note of correction on my part. you are correct in your evaluation of my introduction. It should always be an openended greeting/question. After thinking about this I have to report that normally I do great and ask with ” welcome to Jos. A. Bank How can I be of service? an openended question. And one I use for new customers most of the time, but not for repeat customers that I know. One last correction You mentioned our pants and a price of $400.00. Our pants price from $59.50 to $19500 and range in fabrication from cotton, silk, microfiber, linnen, wool,and wool/cashmere blend. the prices reflect full price but they are usually on sale.”-P
“U crack me up.”
“You’re an idiot.”
“Get a real job, dude.”
Podcast of The Unsecret Shopper Radio Show, Saturday May 29th, 2010, 8-9am on 1350 KRNT
Monday Morning Reaction: Bass Pro Shops, Target, Verizon Wireless, Ing And Un, 8 Answers To 10 Unsecret Shopper Questions And The Smile Project
Sun comes up, rooster crows, alarm screams along with your bladder that feels like a blowfish looks - all of nature’s dashboard idiot lights indicating that it is, indeed, time to roll out of the sleeping sack cause you gotta anyway since there’s no way to get mail delivered under your covers, where you didn’t want to come out from this morning…
Welcome to Monday!
Hope your weekend was decidedly peachy and that the next five days lead to another one, just as fruity.
Today, it’s a mixed cocktail of Unsecret Shopper reader responses to the most recent posts, that appear at times to have ignited your imagination, often tickled your funny bone and frequently made it sit there and just scowl.
You’ll also find questions submitted by readers on a wide range of secret shopping topics, sent using social networking portals - FB, TW, BL, IM, TXT and JYL. (Just Yelling)
If you are an employee who works in retail or in some other capacity with the public, and want to make a very easy $25, even $50 dollars, then here’s something you’ll want to remember.
Starting today, if you are an employee and you smile at me, wherever I visit - at the checkout counter, on the retail floor, at the bill-paying kiosk, at the bank teller window (my clients are not eligible) – I’m going to hand you $25.
Yep. Just like that.
But wait, there’s more!
If you greet or engage me using my name – either because you know me or because you see my name after running my debit/credit card – I will hand you $25.
In other words, by simply following two of the four pillars of customer service – smile, greet, engage and thank (including name) – you can pocket fifty bucks, just like that.
There are two exceptions. Employees who work for my clients are not eligible (all they do is smile when I’m around, so I’d go bankrupt) nor are employees who I see during in-store Secret Shopper reviews for Thursday’s post - sorry, can’t let the secret shopping kitty out of the bag. Besides, that’s only during an actual secret shopper trip through a store – doesn’t mean I couldn’t see you, smiling and name-dropping, on my own time
A smiley, greeting properly with name employee can only win once, and after you’ve won, the other employees within earshot who just heard you freak out, are not eligible, on that visit.
The only stipulation is that you allow me the privilege of taking your picture and letting the world know that you’re doing a great job – by including your photo in future posts.
So tell everyone you know who works in retail and/or with the public – here comes Jonnie with a pocket-full of cash, ready to reward those hard workers who use retail smiles and name greetings with customers.
I’m calling it The Smile Project. I’ll tell you how this week goes, on Friday.
Now to tell you how last week went, right now – with questions from readers and answers from your loveable USS.
1. “How do I become a secret shopper?”
1a. “I spend all of my free time shopping anyway, might as well get paid to do it!”
I get daily requests from readers like you, Jeremy, who want to take their retail shopping skills to the next level, for fun and profit. And you’re right as rain, Kathy, if you’re out there spending your hard earned cash on stuff, why not have fun doing it and make a little cash in the process.
The easiest way to become a secret shopper for The Unsecret Shopper is the simplest – call my cell phone, 480-4190, and let’s talk about it.
I also want to reiterate something – and I’m about to violate a practice that I preach to my business clients about their radio/TV/print marketing: never ever tell consumers what you are not, because they’ll immediately believe that you are. “This is not a sales pitch!” “This is not an attempt to collect on a dept!” “This is not a bad cable show, even though it’s Melrose Place!”
So let me blow that rule up and say that this is not a scam, a sham, a ruse, a trick, a shell game or that thing you do with kids where it looks like you’re pulling off your own thumb and they cry for an hour. The secret shoppers that work for The Unsecret Shopper – and there are over a dozen – are people just like you, doing exactly what they love to – shop – and making a little jack while they do it.
If you’d rather not call me – I have kind of a whiny voice, so I wouldn’t blame you – then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Buyosphere is growing, the list of clients who need secret shopped is growing, and I’m looking for smart, observant people to grow with us.
2. “Do I know you?”
If you knew me, you’d know – so probably not, unless you just forgot.
3. “There’s a picture of two kangaroos fighting, on the ‘Target Off Target’ post. I’m assuming these represent you and Sonja Pothen [Target Spokesperson]. Which one is Sonja, and who won the fight?”
This is a lose – lose for me, Linda. If I say Sonja is the smaller, frailer, dumber looking one on the left, I sound sexist and rude. If I say Sonja is the bigger, uglier, dumber looking one on the right, I sound insensitive. Okay – I’ll say that Sonja is on the left because that kangaroo’s nails appear to be better manicured.
As for who wins? The fight is pretty even until, as you can see, we both look up to see helicopters, which eventually land, at which point the fight is over, because each one is full of kangaroos, carrying briefcases – Target’s attorneys.
4. “Have you ever secret shopped a store that did well?”
Great question, Matt. Of the 12 stores I’ve officially secret shopped for this blog so far – Legends American Grill, Homemakers Furniture, Karl Chevrolet, Wal-Mart, The DMV, Hy-Vee, Casey’s, Jordan Creek Mall, Home Depot, Target, Verizon Wireless and Bass Pro Shops – I would say that Home Depot wins – for big box stores – and Legends, ironically, overall.
Yet all of them, including Legends, have customer service issues.
The good news is that owners/managers/corporate reps from 9 of the 12 (excluding Legends, Karl Chevrolet and The DMV) have not only responded to their secret shopper review, but have told me they’ve shared the info with their managers and employees.
And that’s music to our ears – everywhere except…oh never mind – for businesses to continue to work to improve the level of customer service for all of us – shoppers, employees, managers and owners.
Wouldn’t it be great if that were actually happening?
5. “Do you really go into the stores you secret shop? Sometimes I wonder.”
I’m assuming the second sentence is related to the first, Karen, and not just a general observation about letting your mind go – like, “Sometimes I wonder…like, while I’m reading your blog.” Wait. That’s “wander.” Okay – fughetaboutit.
The truth is that yes, I do go into these stores when I say I do and observe the things I write about. That’s one of the reasons I use names of employees and where I see them in the store, so my journey can be verified, not just by casual readers but also by store managers and employees, who frequently tell me, “I know exactly where you were when you wrote about…” such and such. I also buy something on every secret shopper visit and keep the receipt, just in case I’m ever cross-examined by kangaroo lawyers (see above) but hopefully NOT in a kangaroo court. (See definition by clicking here.)
6. “What do you look like, so I know if you’re in our store? Like, what do you weigh?”
I am the largest Unsecret Shopper on record.
I also have brown curly thinning/graying/schlumping as I write this hair, a “looks like ya broke it” nose with nostrils you could park two Yugos inside, ears the size of thimbles, a quadruple chin that’s recently (through exercise, diet and fear) been downsized to a one and a half-zie, and none of this matters because I always secret shop with a paper bag over my head, so you’ll never know I’m there, Tiffany.
7. “I love your voice. Hmmmmm…would you like to have coffee sometime?”
Kidding. Seeing if you’re paying attention.
8. “Hey Jonnie do you record your radio show at all so people can listen to it later? Because I love reading your blog myself, but can never catch your show, just wondered!”
I’ve had several requests for this – and quintuple that, demanding the show be cancelled.
Assuming the latter doesn’t happen before we do the former, pod casts of The Unsecret Shopper Radio Show will be available starting this Saturday May 29th. I’ll give you details this week on where to get them.
9. “Did I miss the results of your survey, or is it still in process?”
No, you’re still good, Jon. It’s an ongoing process and we post the results on occasion. I keep promising a Friday results rundown but every Thursday we have a “breaking secret shopper news” piece that goes up instead. I promise that this Friday, May 28th, I’ll have the latest results from The Des Moines Customer Service Survey, which you can take by clicking here.
We’re at 512 Survey results, so make sure your voice is heard by local storeowners and employees – take the Survey. It’s 10 simple questions, mainly multiple choice, you check your answers, write out some comments if you’d like, submit it, you’re done, that’s it.
10. “Enough questions – are you going to shut up and get to this week’s reader responses?”
Wow. Okay Mr. Poopy Pants. Jeesch, what a grouch…didn’t you see my funny blowfish pic?
“Your question has been received. You should expect a response from us
within 24 hours.”
-Bass Pro Shops Automated Customer Service Response
(Seven hours later…)
I really appreciated reading your feedback on our store. I am the HR Manager and every time you mentioned a name, I knew exactly whom you were speaking about. That was awesome to hear how our staff is engaging with customers. We go through some awesome customer service training at Bass Pro, and really hit hard on it every morning before the store opens, with the associates. But it’s ‘you’ the customers who we need the feedback from. I took this constructive criticism to heart, and will be looking into the advice you left on how to improve our ‘world class customer service’ that Bass Pro strives for.”
[HR Manager, Bass Pro Shops, Altoona]
“It’s not like we can get to every customer. We work very hard at Bass Pro Shops and we’re only human. So while I’m sorry you didn’t get acknowledged as much as you wanted, I also think you’re being extremely picky. Go secret shop Scheels, you’ll be lucky to get anybody to say anything to you.”
“Dude, you can’t blast someone about spell check in an article where you leave out at least two words before the spell check comment…just sayin’.”
“I loved your BPS post.”
“I’ve never had any problems with their people. Kudos to Bass Pro Shops for building such a fun place for hunters to shop.”
“Thanks for the great “Secret Shopper” updates.”
“You’ve got to be kidding. Are you for real? Are you from here? What a joke.”
“We just ran off 100 copies of your post about proper English and gave it to every employee who answers our phones. Great information, thank you!”
“Is this all you have better to do? What dumb (stuff) this all is.”
“Great points on improving the way we speak! I’m an English teacher and I fight this battle every day, one that I’m afraid we’re losing, in classrooms and in stores.”
“My name is Aneta single never married before, I found your contact in the Google web interesting and want to say Hi to you because I’m planning in relocating to your Country pretty soon and will like to make a friendship, reply me at (Email address deleted) will be glad to hear from you again.”
With love and care
(Unusual email response to post)
“Jonnie, You crack me up. But that Sonja…I am rolling my eyes. She really gets paid for not knowing anything? I am sure she is secretly listing to her IPod under her desk… Rock on Jonnie, Rock on! “
“Give ‘em (heck) JW! Target deserves it – their stuff is garbage and so is their service.”
“Great job, Jonnie! So true that Target does what they think the consumer wants, with nothing to back up their lame claims. It isn’t one of my favorite places to shop…I really enjoy dancing through the racks of clothes, amongst the toile paper, and toothpaste! Shopping is boring and a little music helps break that boredom. Since your conversation with Sonja, I can see why. She is rude and inconsiderate in her actions to you. Boo to Target!
“…Keep up the great work you really do give business owners the feedback they need in this day and age. When I have a business, I know where I’m coming for it.”
“That Target interview was very interesting. I am glad I am a former employee of that company. I will not shop there.”
“Canceling out minutes before going on air…dumb, how executives handle things….dumber. This is a spokesperson with a serious sense of entitlement-to do as she wishes.”
“Thank you for your detailed and informative secret shopper feedback on our Verizon Wireless Stores. We work very every day to insure the best customer service in our industry, and I work very hard to stay connected to our customers. Your feedback has been shared with our store managers and you can be certain that we will learn from it.”
President, Verizon Wireless
Great Plains Region
“I’m sure glad there are jobs for these kind of people so I don’t have to waste my tax dollars buying him (expletive deleted) food stamps. This guy pretty much expects for the Verizon employees to take a (expletive deleted) and even (word related to expletive deleted) for him or he wouldn’t be happy with the service. Such a Drip!!!”
“I was recently in a Verizon Store in Des Moines and was treated like I was a complete irritation to the young women “helping” me. I won’t go back to that store and I won’t go to the Valley West store now either after reading the comment on your blog from the gentleman that works there. He and the rest should own up to the customer service mistakes they made. Only then will he, and the others that provide terrible customer service, be able to embrace the idea of getting better at what they do. I have a friend that now sells for a telecommunications company and thanks to the service I’ve NOT received at Verizon I will now be giving all my cell phone business that person. Owning up to mistakes and having a commitment to improve is so much more attractive to me than denial is. I’m done with being treated as someone who is not worth the time of the company I am giving my business to.”
“Okay, so I went to my “favorite” Verizon store last week and MY KID talked me into buying the Droid. Fabulous. I get 50 bucks credit, a 100 dollar rebate, but still had to write a check for 347 for all the crap I needed including, but no limited to, the purple case. They told me they’d send it all to me Fed Ex cause they don’t have anymore. Again, fabulous! So, then they said I need to call the salesperson in a few days to see when it’s coming because I either have to be home to receive it or leave Fed Ex a note. I’m thinking, all that money I paid for still apparently nothing and they can’t even call me!!! I still haven’t gotten my actual salesperson on the phone so I spoke with the Mgr. who after telling that they won’t ship before June 8th, finally looks up my account and then says it will be here by the 4th at the latest—-maybe even sooner. Goodie!!! I bought a new phone because my 4-year-old one is crap! The legal car talking wire thing is broken, the car charger doesn’t work and the battery runs down really fast. He didn’t ask my name or anything until after I said I’d come in and get my money back so I can go to buy an Iphone. (I was bluffing). Seems you CAN’T get your money back anyway. I’m sure I’ll get my phone eventually, but shouldn’t I feel better about having written that big check on May 11th and coming home with absolutely nothing!!!
Customer service, what’s that!”
Give this Monday your best smile – and watch her smile right back.
Jonnie Wright is a customer service evaluator and trainer, professional secret shopper, marketing strategist and host of “The Unsecret Shopper Radio Show,” Saturdays 8-9am on 1350 KRNT. Email Jonnie at email@example.com.