The Unsecret Shopper Goes On Hiatus

 

Hello shoppers…

 

Every blogger wants to believe that the readers who read their blog will surely keel over and die if the blogger stop blogging. Just like every radio show host likes to think that the people who listen to their show, will burst into flames if the host stops hosting.

As I step away from the laptop and the microphone for a while (after Saturday’s radio show), I’m mature enough to understand the actual ramifications of what I’m about to do: everyone will perish.

Sorry!

 

This stop for The Unsecret Shopper Media Train comes as the responsibilities of my “other” job are about to increase six-fold.

Currently I do weekly customer service training for a dozen clients in Iowa, Missouri and New York. That includes Dahl’s Foods – I do training at six of their twelve stores. Starting March 1st, the other six will be added. (The soon-to-be-new Ames Dahls will be #13, some time closer to summer.) So I’ll be traveling from Dahl’s store to Dahl’s store throughout the week – from the store at 50th and EP True Parkway, to the store on East 33rd, to the store in Ankeny, to the store in Johnston, to the store in Waukee, to all the stores in-between – conducting hour-long (employees say it feels longer) training sessions with hundreds and hundreds of staff. There’s also the army of secret shoppers I interview each week, who shop the stores. (Their testimony is used in training.)

Yes, it’s a lot of work, and a lot of responsibility. It’s also a tremendous honor to work for one of Des Moines’ landmark companies. And it’s a heck of a lot of fun.

Blogging, it turns out, is also a lot of work; in fact, it has a lot in common with customer service training, except the pay (It doesn’t). The average post takes me 12 hours to write, not including the time I spend secret shopping the stores. There’s also the weekly Unsecret Shopper Radio Show, which requires hours of prep work.

Then there’s all the time I spend whining.

As much as I enjoy writing a blog and hosting a radio show, it pales in comparison to helping a great company improve its already-good customer service.

So that’s what I’ll be focusing on, for a while.

This will be much harder for you than it is for me (as I cry hysterically as I write this). Dry your eyes (Jonnie). I’ll be back this fall, writing the blog and hosting the radio show.

Meantime, please do this for me: Do not accept bad customer service from any employee or any store, any time, anywhere.

You deserve better. We all do.

Thank you for giving me more than I deserve – whether you are a reader, or a listener.

See you again. And soon. 

  

  

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.       

    

Ways to contact Jonnie:

    

Click to be taken to Jonnie’s Facebook page    

Click to be taken to Jonnie’s Twitter page    

Click to be taken to Jonnie’s blog    

Click to email Jonnie (jonnie@theunsecretshopper.com)    

Phone: 515-480-4190 

The Unsecret Shopper Goes Shopping: Des Moines Airport/United Airlines/TSA

 

Hello shoppers… 

On December 17th, 1903, Orville (Redenbacher) Wright, assited by his brother Wilbur, flew 120 feet in 12 seconds -  and in so doing, invented pat downs, turbulence, lost luggage and six dollar bottled water.

Today, Americans fly over 100 billion miles annually. (We drive twice that.) The fact that any of us get where we’re going, at all, is a testament to the skill and dedication of the people who make it all possible – on the ground and in the air.

Nobody likes to fly. Check that – I don’t like to fly. Being an American, I believe that everyone in the whole wide world thinks and feels exactly as I do, which means nobody else likes to fly, either.

Can the people who help us fly, help it be less horrible?

Those are the issues through which Captain Unsecret Shopper, attempted to navigate.

Last week I flew from Des Moines to Watertown, New York on business. The 2,140 mile, 17 hour round trip included stops in Chicago and Albany. I flew United Airlines, and Cape Air.

Along the way I took note of how I was treated by flight attendants, TSA agents and airport personnel: Did they smile? Were they friendly and polite? Did they make my flying experience, enjoyable? Did they freak out when I started screaming, “There’s a gremlin on the wing!”

"Note to self: no more booking on Priceline.com."

 

It is amazing how much impact one human being can have on us, especially in situations that are stressful and uncomfortable. Flying certainly qualifies.

Let us see if the employees I met on my journey, helped make the skies friendly(er), indeed.

 

Des Moines International Airport

Friday 5:07am

The herding began at United’s check-in counter.

There were a dozen drowsy luggage-toting passengers ahead of me, either checking in at United’s automated kiosks or waiting to check their bags with the two UA employees at the counter. I had two carry-ons and could have avoided the cluster altogether by checking in online. But that’s not how unsecret shoppers roll. 

I got to the kiosk and followed the instructions; I typed in my password, online check-in code, flight number, Travelocity ID number, height, weight and best time in the 100 yard dash. The reappearing “There seems to be an error” prompt, suggested the kiosk thought I’d be better off taking a bus. The three passengers in the three kiosks beside me were also doing their fair share of screen touching and face frowning.

Marsha, a nearby UA employee who seemed to be standing in the area so she could help poor kiosk-challenged slobs, chatted with a friend about her lack of job security.  

“They cut my hours back, and I’m really worried,” Marsha said to her friend, and the rest of us who were close enough to hear.

I wanted to do everything I could to get Marsha some more hours.

“Can you help me?” I asked.

She did, pleasantly but without a smile. “None of those numbers matter,” she said as she approached, making me wonder why they were supposed to. “Just stick in your credit card.”

Money talks. The machine heard. It spit out two boarding passes. Rock and roll.

Next stop: security.

I wanted to stop and take a real picture of the baggage screening area, but I was afraid I’d be trampled by texting teens and stroller-pushing moms and cell-calling biz travelers, all amped up on Mountain Dews and Desitin fumes and triple shot vanilla lattes.

It was total chaos.

50 passengers ahead of me were being herded through a roped-off maze by a half-dozen TSA agents, including Richard, who, without a smile, barked, “Come on through!” while he waved his hand, suggesting we were cars parked in line to be washed, and not people feeling humiliated enough as it was. I was waiting to be jabbed in the kidneys with a truncheon while Richard yelled, “Roust, everybody! Roust!”

As we approached the x-ray screening machine (There’s no advance body scan machine at DM Airport, and thus no “pat down” option.), Grant gave verbal directives: “Remove your shoes. Place laptops in containers. Say nice things about us in your blogs.” People obeyed, frantically removing their watches, wallets, keys, coats and shoes and tossing them in to dull gray reinforced plastic trays, like lunchroom 5th graders dumping leftovers on “Meatloaf Monday.”

I wasn’t sure what to remove and what to keep on, so I just started taking off everything. A TSA agent stopped me before I’d stripped down to my Spiderman boxers.

The TSA agents kept waving their hands, encouraging us to hurry up and go through. I wondered if one of them was going to tag my ear, and auction me off. I finally got up to the metal detector, and stepped through. No “beep.” The worst of it was over! I thought, as the thought was immediately laughed at by thoughts of crying babies and gassy passengers and Airport ’77.

There was so much pressure to get through the screening process (both TSA, and self-imposed) as fast as possible that I, along with plenty of other passengers, kept dropping my keys, laptop, magazine, coat and boarding ticket.

Stressful. Unpleasant. Weird.

Dorothy, another TSA agent, smiled at me (the first and only one to do so) as I came out the other side, and said a wonderfully warm, “Thank you! Have a great day!” That allowed me to stow my negative thoughts in my head’s overhead bin.

TSA agents are facing intense media scrutiny these days, although not quite as intense as a month ago. The constant pressure comes from knowing that lives depend on them doing their job perfectly, every day.

Passengers ain’t got it easy, either.

Few of us – agents and passengers alike – were at our best that morning. It was very easy, in the chaos of the process, to lose sight of the fact that all of the people involved were, and are, indeed, people, who deserve respect, and compassion.

My greatest thanks to Dorothy, and a few other TSA agents, who helped me remember that.

It was onward and up up upward, to Chicago.

The pilot eventually turned right, and to the east, towards Chicago

6:00am

US Airways Flight 6190

Des Moines to Chicago

I haven’t flown in a while, and hadn’t seen the beautifully remodeled passenger gate area at the Des Moines Airport. Awesome!

Less awesome was a guy in the line that formed to board the airplane. “I heard they got 22 inches of snow out east last night, and the power is off.”

Wait. I’m flying towards that?

“It’ll be a miracle if we don’t get diverted to another airport.”

This is also the guy who sits behind you on the three-hour flight to Orlando and kicks your seat.

A much more pleasant voice came on the loudspeaker.

“We’d like to invite our Premiere Executive customers to begin boarding first.”

Bad weather ahead guy: “This is gonna take all day.”

Note to self: carry carry-ons through aisle at waist level, and “accidentally” hit this dude in the head.

A different overhead voice: “If you see any suspicious activity, please report it to the nearest airport.”

…other than the one I’m standing in?

Troy, with a smile, ended my confusion by taking my boarding pass, and wishing me a great day.

Entering the huge Airbus A-320 (heading for section 4, in the rear with the gear), it was interesting to walk the wide aisle of 1st class (two big seats to a side) only to have it immediately narrow, indicating that I’d now entered the cheap seats, cheap skate. It felt like I’d just lost my job and needed to go on food stamps.

There were rumps in almost all of the 125 seats - the plane was full.

Instead of a flight attendant explaining for the 1,293,853 time where the flotation devices/oxygen masks/emergency exits were located, 40 TV monitors dropped down, and pretty, fresh-faced actors did the ‘splaining, to a very cool version of Gershwin’s already uber-cool, Rhapsody in Blue (United’s theme song).

I ignored it, and started reading the front page of my Des Moines Register.

I put down the paper.

I picked up the front page of my USA Today. 

 

AIRLINES OFFER LITTLE HELP TO FLIERS AFTER IN-FLIGHT TRAUMA

 

I put down the paper.

I turned towards the guy sitting across the aisle from me. He was trying to turn on his overhead light by twisting it. It came off in his hands.

I stopped looking at the guy sitting across the aisle from me.

I looked up at the TV monitor.

“In the event of a water landing…”

I closed my eyes.

Suddenly a loud “ka-THUMP” came from underneath the plane. Passengers jumped out of their seats.

I wrapped my Des Moines Register around my head, and fell asleep.

15 minutes later I woke up, airborne, to the sound of the Captain’s monotone voice, mumbling through the cabin speakers like a 15 year-old at a McDonald’s drive-thru:

“Hopeyouhaveagoodflightwehavethreeofthemostexperiencedflightcrewpleasekeepyourseatbeltsonbecausewe’vegotourseatbeltson.”

Roberto and Lita, our flight attendants, rolled the beverage cart down the aisle.

Roberto, very pleasantly and with a smile, asked passengers open-endedly, “What would you like to drink?” while Lita, without a smile and a bit less enthusiastically, asked, closed-endedly, “Anything to drink?”

Lita had told me earlier to “shut that off,” referring to the recorder I was talking into at the time, about Lita. As our plane began its descent towards O’Hare, she was now walking through the aisles and, still just a bit on the impatient side, waving her hands toward passengers, telling them to “Turn off your electronics. I need you to turn it off.”

We made good time, with a nice jet stream push from the rear, and touched down in Chicago a little more than an hour after leaving Des Moines.

Lining up to get on the happy plane

8:35am

United Express Flight 6170

Chicago to Albany

The plane got a little smaller, the people got a little friendlier and the flight got a little smoother, the a lot further east I got.

The United Airlines guy taking our boarding passes was a hoot; he had that wonderful Chicago sense of humor, slightly sarcastic and wonderfully engaging.

During the flight, Denise, the main flight attendant, was kind, friendly, efficient and seemed genuinely happy to be taking care of us.

I grabbed my Time Magazine that I’d purchased at a newstand kiosk at O’hare, from a smiling, pleasant woman

President Obama smiled on the cover. His good buddy, Ronald Regan was grinning ear to ear, and had his arm around the prez. (Abe Lincoln was supposed to be sitting down in the shot, giving a thumbs up, but apparently his people forgot to remind him about the photo shoot.)

I cracked it open to page 1.

MOSCOW: TERROR IN THE AIRPORT

I  closed it. And haven’t read anything since.

The diet Coke was cold, the flight was silky smooth and the two hours we were in the air, flew by.

Denita, Enga and Bill

2:02pm

Cape Air Flight 1805

Albany to Watertown

During my two-hour layover, I played on my laptop while enjoying a half a bag of peanut M&M’s, a diet soda and a big bagel with a cream cheese schmear, which I purchased at the Saranac Pub from Kim, who had a huge smile schmeared on her face when she served it to me.

About 15 minutes before boarding, I walked downstairs to the gate, where I was met by Denita, Enga and Bill, some of the happiest people I’ve ever seen who worked inside an airport, who weren’t about to get off work.

Bill had previously visited where I’d left that morning.

“I came up through Des Moines and traveled to Ames once,” he told me. “It was pretty, but flat – no mountains.”

Jessica, our pilot, was no slouch in the “happy and engaging” department. That was a good thing, since the puddle jumper all four of us passengers were about to board for the hour-long flight to Watertown, had two propellers, nine seats and was about twice the size of the previous plane’s potty.

I started at the (vibrating) floor as we took off.

The rest of the flight was silky smooth, like we were riding on the ground in an SUV, albeit a loud one.

While we flew, I leafed through a Cape Air promotional magazine. On the inside cover was a message from Dan Wolf, the company’s CEO, and Dave Bushy, the President. At the bottom was the Cape Air/Nantucket Airlines logo.

Below it were the words, “Mocha HAGoTDI.” At first, I thought it might be Native American. Then I read the translation: it was an acronym, which stands for: Make Our Customers Happy And Have A GOod Time Doing It.”

Mission accomplished.

Monday 11am, 4:38pm and 8:05pm

The three flights back

The trips back home on the following Monday were exactly like the trips out east on the previous Friday, except in a different direction.

There were a few things of note.

In Albany, Bill, from Cape Air, either remembered my name or got it off the computer. It didn’t matter. “Have a great flight, Mr. Wright!” he said through a smile, as he shut the plane door. Awesome!

Jerry, the captain on the Albany to Chicago flight, didn’t swallow the mic when he spoke into it, spoke slow enough to be understood and did so with a smile in his voice. Carol, one of the super-trio of flight attendants on the plane, was extremely engaging, friendly and outgoing.  I thanked her for being so great to me, and was so glad I did, as was she. The woman sitting next to me said, “You must be in customer service. They’re the only ones who give compliments.”

:)

One of the flight attendants said that we could use our cell phones, as long as they were in “airplane” mode – the first and only FA to point this out.

The soap in the lavatory smelled expensive, like marigolds and honey. The rinse water felt spring soft, and wonderfully warm. The potty itself smelled fresh and clean. The ride from Albany to Chicago was as smooth as any I’ve ever experienced on an airplane. I’m not sure we ever left the tarmac. I think the whole thing was staged ala Capricorn One, with blue screens, fog machines and “airplane engine” sound effects.

My overall experience on United Flight 481, Albany to Chicago, Monday, January 31st, 2011, 4:38pm to 6:04pm will now be my template against which all other flights will be judged.

Cheryl, Carol and Marissa - three of the flight crew rock stars...

 

...along with Mike and Jerry, the pilots

The flight from Chicago to Des Moines wasn’t quite as nice. One difference: when they closed the luggage compartment on the A-319 Airbus from Albany to Chicago, it sounded like a one ton drawbridge being slowly drawn up. On the Embraer 175 to Des Moines, it felt like somebody slamming the hood on a ’72 Camaro.

On the front of the emergency exit directions, it said, “Final assembly of this aircraft was completed in Brazil.” I wanted to put a line through the last four words, and write, “is still being worked on.”

The ride into Des Moines was bump-free, but took a little longer than planned; sleet had fallen in Des Moines, and the runway had to be de-iced. To the ground crew’s credit, we were no more than 15 minutes late as we got off the plane, past the gate and towards the airport’s exit.

As I walked past the security screening area, it was vacant, except for a few TSA agents, who sat with their feet propped up, relaxed and chatting, in the middle of what had been complete chaos just over 72 hours before.

The place was quiet.

I took a picture. And took my sweet time taking 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.       

    

Ways to contact Jonnie:

    

Click to be taken to Jonnie’s Facebook page    

Click to be taken to Jonnie’s Twitter page    

Click to be taken to Jonnie’s blog    

Click to email Jonnie (jonnie@theunsecretshopper.com)    

Phone: 515-480-4190

The Unsecret Shopper Goes Shopping: Attorneys Part 2

 

Hello shoppers…

After a long recess, court is once again in session – in order to present Part 2 of a secret shopper review of Des Moines area divorce attorneys.

Part 1‘s proceedings covered six attorneys. Today’s docket features six more.

I evaluated the “Divorce Dozen” in part by using the Pillars of Great Customer Service that I teach, as a customer service trainer. I’ve never been married, but I posed as someone who is (and don’t wanna be no mo). My wife “Jane” and I have been hitched for ten years. We have no children together (She has three with another dude) but do own a house, jointly, and outright. She doesn’t work. I make $200.000 a year, and have also amassed a retirement fund worth over half a million dollars.

I’m toast.

Yesterday’s group of attorneys did a great job of explaining the divorce process, and of offering ways for me to minimize my alimony liability that didn’t involve moving to Canada, and becoming “Ralph.”

Before you, the jury, deliberate the facts…

… I would like to submit into evidence a second group of attorneys, below.

Hockett-Clark Law Office

5550 Wild rose Lane, West Des Moines

Phone answered: “Good afternoon (unintelligible).” (The receptionist might want to slow down her delivery a bit.)

It took a while for me to find Debra’s unmarked office among the 80 unmarked offices on the Regus Building’s fourth floor. (It was MLK Day and the receptionist had the day off.) Finally I knocked on the (W)right door. Debra didn’t greet me by name but flashed a big smile as she shook my hand.

It was clear that Debra was very busy. “I have a mediation and all kinds of things scheduled today,” she said. It felt like she was trying to hurry me up a bit, although she may have simply been lamenting not having her support staff around to help out. 

Debra methodically laid out the divorce process right out of the gate, asking me few questions at the beginning. She mentioned the 90 day requirement after a divorce petition is served, before it can be finalized. “There are a few reasons we can file a waiver on the 90 day requirement, “she explained, the first and only attorney to reference the waiver. She also explained that “trial dates involving no children may be scheduled further out (over eight months) than those with children,” since the courts want to give precedence to cases involving kids. That made sense.

Later in the conversation, instead of asking me a question, Debra would present it as a statement. “I don’t know if you guys have significant assets and debts…” “I don’t know how much you two are communicating…” “I don’t know your income, but…” She finally asked me a few questions – if I owned my own company, if my wife worked.  Then Debra said, “If you move out of the house, the obvious problem is that she’s living in the house, and you aren’t.” I thought this would be a hot button isue with all the attorneys, but Debra was the first one to reference it in that way. She cautioned me about trying to maintain two households. “You should consider if you want to leap off this cliff.” Great job!

Debra was thorough in her description of the process. She probably could have asked me a few more questions early on, to bring me into the conversation, and process, sooner.

When I finally told her I wasn’t really a husband looking for his freedom but a single dude who laughed at those who were, she was kind of shocked. That’s understandable. She probably hasn’t been secret shopped in a long time. Like, ever.

Overall: Debra is thorough, knowledgeable and competent.

Marberry Law Firm

5835 Grand Avenue, Des Moines

Phone answered: “Marberry Law Firm.” (Business-like – probably could be warmer, with a nice “Thank you for calling” at the beginning.)

I told the receptionist I was calling to find an attorney because I was divorcing my wife. She replied, “This is in regards to a dissolution?”

No, a divorce.

When I arrived, there was no receptionist at the front. I could hear a woman talking on the phone about a case. I looked at the receptionist’s desk; it was covered with legal papers and sealed, addressed envelopes. None of it felt terribly secure.

I heard the woman hang up the phone. I stood there a bit longer, to see if she’d pop her head out. She didn’t. I said, “Helloooooo?”

That’s when Kate Stillman appeared.

She offered me a cup of coffee, used my name and was friendly, but didn’t smile as we sat down at her desk.

“This is for a dissolution?” she immediately asked.

If “dissolution” means “divorce,” then “yes.”

Kate then asked, “What’s sort of going on?” It was a strong question; it made me feel like she wanted to hear my story.

I told her the details. She said, “According to Iowa law, you don’t have to leave the home. That’s to preserve the cost.” It was a good point to make. Some men may think they have to physically hit the road. (Some women may like the fact that they think this.)

Kate gave the Reader’s Digest version of the divorce process, including the 90 day waiting period, or what she called the “cooling off period.”

She then asked, “Any issues in your marriage?”

Other than the fact that we want a divorce?

Kate made up for what I thought was kind of a dorky question, with a few strong ones: ‘Are you willing to pay alimony?” “What would you like to see done with the house?” She also tried to allay my fears. “It doesn’t sound like you’re going to have a ton of issues.”

Kate did not ask how much money I made, how much I might have in retirement or how much the house was worth, all of which may have added some tonnage.

She did a nice job of breaking down some of the costs: $185 to file, $150 an hour for mediation, which she said usually lasts about three hours, and the cost is split between the two parties. 

“The retainer is $1,500, unless alimony blows up as an issue,” Kate said. She was being honest, but I didn’t like to hear “$1,500,” “alimony” and “blow up” in the same sentence.

It was time to blow (up) my cover.

Kate sort of smiled as I told her what I was up to. Let’s call it a forced grin.

Overall: Kate is a very busy, competent attorney who asked some very smart questions that no one else asked.

Stamatelos And Associates

2700 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines

Phone answered: (It was voice-mail.) The message said to leave a message, and to go to their website, and fill out an intake form – a very cool little detail!

As cool as Kimberly Stamatelos’ voice message was, she was ten times that and a bag of chips in person.

She greeted me warmly and with a smile, by name and with a handshake as I entered her office.

We sat down in the conference room.

“I like to just hear about what happened,” Kimberly began. Empathetic, compassionate, not worrying about the process at this point – it was a fantastic way to start.

I laid it all out for her, including the fact that I made enough to buy a proton accelerator, while my wife earned less than the cost of a box of Kleenex.

“I’m glad you’re doing this now instead of five years from now,” she said with a huge smile, “or else you’d be taking care of her through the old people’s home.”

Kimberly was very open about the crapshoot of determining alimony. “The problem with alimony is that there’s no rule. I call it ‘free-fall.’” 

We talked about the odds of the outcome being decided by a judge. “We try to keep you out of trial, because it turns your money over to strangers (judges),” she explained. “Judges also want mediation. They have zero tolerance about, ‘he didn’t take out the garbage,’ ‘she didn’t take care of the dog.’” She emphasized the different personalities of the judges, that some were more desireable than others, depending on what a client wanted. “Judges are people, too,” she said. “They have different experiences, different backgrounds. All of that comes in to play.” Unfortunately the judge we’d end up with was out of our control. “We don’t know who our judge is until the night before trial.”

Kimberly left and came back with a book that had the actual Iowa Statute that outlines the factors that go into determining alimony. “Length of marriage. Age and physical health of parties. Distribution of property made. Educational level of parties. Earning capacity of parties.” And a lot more.

We talked about how much this was going to cost me. 

“Your legal fees will depend on who she gets as an attorney,” she said. Honest, reasonable – it was a great way to say it.

I was having way too much fun talking with the very engaging Kimberly to tell her I was not some unlucky married dolt who was going to get taken to the cleaners but was instead a single secret shopper, but still a dolt.

I came clean. She smiled big and laughed loud, just like I figured she would. She also wondered how she did, and was the only attorney to ask. “Give me some feedback! Tell me what I can do better!” Awesome job, Kimberly!

Overall: Kimberly is dynamic, engaging, witty, compassionate and down to earth, someone you’d love to have as your attorney, or your friend.

Berg, Rouse, Spaulding and Schmidt

2423 Ingersoll, Des Moines

Phone answered: “Good afternoon. Berg, Rouse, Spaulding and Schmidt.”

The receptionist who greeted me at the desk was pleasant, busy and efficient. She got up out of her chair and stood up to address me, as I approached – awesome. She did something else that was equally subtle and no less powerful; after she’d told an attorney that “Your 1:45 is here,” she put the phone back down, and, smiling, told me he’d be right out. I said thank you, and lingered by the counter, looking through the business cards. Instead of turning away and going about her business, the receptionist continued to face me, standing, until I turned away, at which point she went back to doing her thing. It was a professional and thoughtful gesture. Amazing job!

Rick Schmidt was also rock and roll.

He flashed a big smile as he invited me back into his office, shook my hand (a little weakly) and called me by name with a very deep, resonant voice. He was casually dressed in black jeans and a beautiful purple shirt, and the laid-back look fit his chilled out vibe. 

Rick touched on the divorce process, outlined the three types of alimony and used analogies instead of legalese, when necessary.

He talked about the ways she could be served the petition. “You could also take her the papers,” he said. Rick was the first and only attorney to offer this as one of my options. Awesome!

As the income disparity between my wife and me became apparent, Rick opened his eyes wide and blew through his lips “Whew!” It was exactly how you’d expect a dude to react. Yet he had no intention of having me roll over. “Spousal support and alimony is a crap shoot,” he said, “but we’ll argue that she’s got a bigger capacity to work than she claims.”

Rick did not use my name throughout the conversation – which I pointed out to him when I finally stopped claiming I was who I wasn’t, and told him who I was.

Rick smiled, said he’d never been secret shopped and thanked me for the feedback I gave him, especially about his receptionist. “We think she’s fantastic,” he beamed.

You can hear more from Rick Schmidt, including the biggest mistakes people make when they get a divorce, during my conversation with him, on The Unsecret Shopper Radio Show, Saturday morning 8-9am on 1350 KRNT.

Overall: Rick is clever and quick-witted, and projects a strong, “man’s man” persona, yet is equally compassionate and understanding.

Sullivan and Ward

6601 Westown Parkway, West Des Moines

Phone answered: “Sullivan and Ward.” (Pleasant, but could use a nice “Thank you for calling…” at the front end.)

The receptionist connected me to Samantha Gronewald, who was very upbeat and happy on the phone.

“In this initial consultation, I’ll explain the process,” she said. She didn’t use my name during our conversation, but ended it with “Have a great weekend!” Nice job!

I visited her office a few days later. The receptionists who greeted me were pleasant, smiling and cordial. They offered me coffee as they sat me down in the huge conference room, to wait for Samantha.

She joined me a few minutes later.

“Are the kids living at home?” she asked, after I’d explained the situation. She was the first and only attorney to ask that question. She also asked, “Would you want to maintain a relationship with the kids?” Again, she was the only attorney to ask it.

Samantha described the different ways my wife could be served, and recommended against the third one, a process server. “That gets cases off on the wrong foot,” she cautioned.

She pulled out an Affidavit of Financial Status and went over it, in detail. Beside it, she put a blank piece of paper, and drew a simple graph, marking one column, “assets,” and the other, “debits.” It was a wonderful way to explain the formal document, which she then gave me.  

Samantha asked, “How long were you together before you were married?” I immediately understood why she asked it; she was the first and only attorney to do so.

Then she said, with a quiet determination, “I would encourage you to take the position that there will be no spousal support.” This was someone who was obviously going to fight for me.

She assured me that most cases “usually get settled at mediation,” and that “if they’re not, you usually know it right away.” She gave me a “best case scenario” time line (90 days) 2nd worst case (160 days) and worst case (6-9 months).

Samantha explained the process of a pre-trial conference, talked about what to expect at trial and, towards the end, said the sweetest, most reassuring thing, with a beautiful smile:

“If I never hear from you again, I assume that everything worked out fine.” Wowowowowowowowow.

She broke down her fees: $175 an hour if she’s working on it, $85 if it’s something the paralegal can do. “My retainer is $2,500 for divorces without children.”

I wanted to get married so I could get a divorce so I could hire Samantha. I punched the feeling in the face until it shut up.  

It was time to shut up the charade, and come clean. Samantha, my name is Jonathan Reed Atticus Wright, and I am the award-winning author ‘The Unsecret Shopper,’ the most well-read, incredibly important and influential blog in the whole entire world. I’m sure you’ve heard of me – I’m stunned you didn’t recognize me.  I’m here today because-

“I’ve never heard of The Unsecret Shopper.”

…oh.

She was a great sport about the whole thing.

Overall: Samantha is uber-thorough, extremely poised, detail-oriented and driven - a total professional.

Babich Goldman

100 Court Avenue, Des Moines

Phone answered: “Babich.” (This was the shortest answer of all the phone calls. I’m glad I heard both syllables.)

After I told him my story, Les Babich asked me a long list of questions: How long had I been married? Children? What county did I live in? What do I do for a living? What does my wife do? How much does your wife make? How much do you make?

“Six figures,” I replied/lied.

 “It’s $390 an hour for a consultation,” he said. Can I change my answer?

I told him I was looking for a free consultation because “I’ve never been divorced before” and needed to find out what I was supposed to do. He started throwing out days and times he was available. We finally agreed on one.

I went to his office on Court Avenue not knowing if he’d charge me. I had 69 cents and a Gummy Bear in my pocket.

It turned out to be free. Because Les wasn’t there.

Mindy Guynn, a paralegal, and the receptionist both greeted me at the door. Both were very apologetic. (I got the feeling this wasn’t the first time they’d had to do this.) Mindy said that Les was stuck in court and that she’d tried to call me, but couldn’t read Les’ handwriting.

Note to staff: keep Les away from pens and pencils.

Neither of the two women used my name while we talked, but they both smiled, and were extremely friendly and engaging.

I decided to come clean, and told them I was secret shopping attorneys. They both kind of got that “uh-oh” look; I assured them that they’d been great, and that I’d go easy on Mr. Babich.

Life is what gets in the way of plans.

Overall: Mindy and the receptionist were awesome. Ladies, please work with Les on his phone greeting, and penmanship. :)

 

The Verdict:

I, Judge Unsecret Shopper, find the following defendants GUILTY of the charge of providing great customer service to the ultimate degree…plus these additional charges:

1. Samantha Gronewald – GUILTY of being the most thorough and poised attorney. If it was time to kick my no good husband to the curb, I’d want Samantha doin the kickin.

2. Kimberly Stamatelos – GUILTY of being the most engaging and witty attorney. If it goes to trial, I want Kimberly, who will charm the pants/skirt off the judge.

3. Tom Graves - GUILTY of being the most old-school, down to earth attorney. If it’s a criminal case, I want Tom, who is Des Moines’ version of Melvin Belli.

Also facing additional charges of being off the customer service hizzle, fo shizzle:

Rick Schmidt and Ryan Weese

Thanks to all the attorneys for being such great sports. This customer service court is adjourned. Bailiff, bring in the next secret shopper defendant…

  

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.       

    

Ways to contact Jonnie:

    

Click to be taken to Jonnie’s Facebook page    

Click to be taken to Jonnie’s Twitter page    

Click to be taken to Jonnie’s blog    

Click to email Jonnie (jonnie@theunsecretshopper.com)    

Phone: 515-480-4190

The Unsecret Shopper Goes Shopping: Attorneys Part 1

 

Hello shoppers…

According to the American Bar Association, there are 1,239,526 lawyers in the United States.

Here is one of 1,239,526 lawyer jokes:

A 50 year-old lawyer who had been practicing since he was 25 years old died and arrived at the pearly gates of Heaven.

The lawyer said to St. Peter, “I am so surprised I died so young. I was so active, and always ate well. And I’m only 50 years old!”

St. Peter looked at his book and looked back down at the lawyer.

“50 years old, you say? According to your billing records, you should be 83.”

 

Lawyers, or, for the purposes of this review, attorneys (There is a technical difference) can bill a lot of hours because they spent seven years of college in the campus law library while you and I did things that made our parents hire legal counsel.

That stressed our folks out, which led them to get a divorce, which led them to hire attorneys, which led to today’s Secret Shopper review.

Can you handle the truth about attorneys?

Divorce rates - as well as the number of marriages – fell in the U.S., in 2009. Apparently people thought it would be cheaper just to love and honor, or hate and yell at each other, without making it official. About a third of all Americans over the age of 15 aren’t married, according to the U.S. Census.

For the locals who are but don’t want to be, here are a dozen Des Moines area law firms and solo practices that specialize in divorce. I selected them at random, from Google searches, phone book searches and recommendations from (divorced) friends.

The pretend scenario: I’ve been married for 10 years. I have recently moved out of the house because of marital problems. I’m seeking a divorce, and need to hire counsel.

Other made-up details: My wife Jane and I have no children together, but she does have three from a previous relationship. We own our home (valued at $250,000) free and clear (lol). I am the sole breadwinner in the house, and make $200,000 a year (ROTFLMAO). I have stashed away $600,000 in a retirement fund (Stop it! My stomach!). And if I don’t hire a good attorney, I’ll be living in a van down by the river (beside former Governor Culver).

At the end of every conversation, I told the attorney who I really was, and what I was really doing. A review is a review, but a lawsuit is…you get the idea.

Today’s Part 1 review will describe my experiences with six attorneys (in no particular order). Friday’s Part 2 will cover the other six. 

I went in looking for Pillars of Great Customer Service: Did the attorney smile, greet me by name and use a firm (but not crushing) handshake? Did the attorney use my name as we talked, to break down the walls that exist between people who have never met? Did the attorney maintain good eye contact? Did the attorney ask me questions as they described the divorce process, to bring me into the conversation? Was the attorney cordial, engaging and empathetic? Did the attorney thank me at the end, shake my hand and use my name again? Besides the Pillars, did the attorney do a good job explaining how divorce works? Would I retain this person as counsel?

What will be the Unsecret Shopper's verdict?

Most of the attorneys offered a free initial consultation. Those who didn’t are noted, because I didn’t talk to them, because I’m cheap.

None of the attorneys were. They charge up to $250 an hour, with retainers ranging from $600 to $3,500. There’s a reason why attorneys rank in the top 15 of highest paying careers.

They earn it.  After spending hours listening to these 12 highly trained professionals describe the often long, drawn-out and painful experience of going through a marriage dissolution, may I say, emphatically, to my friends and family members who gave me grief over the years for never walking down the aisle…

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Now, all rise – in the case of The Unsecret Shopper vs. Des Moines Divorce Attorneys, the (basically) Honorable Judge Wright presiding…

 

Scott Fisher Law Firm

1200 Valley West Drive, West Des Moines

Phone answered: “Fisher Law Firm.” (A “Thank you for calling…” at the beginning would have been great. The voice on the other end was very pleasant.)

The person who answered the phone did some pre-qualifying, and was the only one who did so. “Do you have kids?” “Have you been served?” This was also the only person who said, “We could set up a free consultation,” pointing out that I wasn’t going to be charged. I thought that was very strong.

What isn’t so strong is my memory, and my notes – neither of which indicate if the person who answered the phone was a woman (who would have likely not been Scott Fisher), or a man (who would have had a much better chance of being, indeed, Scott).

My bad, Scott, either way.

I do know that Scott greeted me, pleasantly, at the door of his office. He’s got a great handshake. He also said my name, and smiled. Awesome start!

We sat down at his desk.

Scott and I talked a bit about my situation. He said, “I take a retainer of $600 to $1,000 for a divorce.” That’s the lowest number quoted, by any of the attorneys I met with.  

Scott then asked me some basic questions: was I living with my wife? (No) Did we own our home? (Yes) Is it in both our names? (Yes)

“What’s your address?” he asked, reasonably enough.

I’m a chronic renter. I gave him the address of a house in Des Moines my mother had purchased in 1979.

He turned towards the computer screen on his desk. “Let’s look it up.”

Look it up?

“Let’s make sure that both your names are on the house.”

Whaaaaaaaat????

I watched in horror as he went to a website and punched in the address. A PDF image of the title or deed or whatever you nutty homeowners sign, slowly unfurled itself on the screen. At the top of the document, beside “OWNER:” was a name. I was hoping it was mine, and maybe I’d just forgotten that I’d been making monthly payments on it (a nice little house on 42nd street) for 31 years.

Scott frowned. “Uh…it says that the owner’s name is Bob Giuseppi.”

How ya gonna get out of this one, wabbit?

“Yeah…that’s…uh…my maiden name, before I got married.”

Actually I said, “Ya got me. I’m busted.”

I explained who I was, what I was doing there and why I’m an idiot. Scott wasn’t sure how to take the first two things, but kinda laughed at the last part.

I told him to bring up my website (since he was already on the ‘net). Sure enough, there was my mug, unmasked.

“That must be fun,” he said.

Most of the time.

Overall: Scott is pleasant, thorough and knowledgeable – and is ready to represent Mr. Giuseppi, should he need legal counsel.

Hudson, Mallaney, Shindler and Anderson

5015 Grand Ridge Drive, West Des Moines

Phone answered: “Good afternoon. Hudson Law Firm.” (Pleasant)

The receptionist connected me to Ryan Weese, who used my name twice during the brief conversation. Nice job! We set up an appointment. “I’ll pick your brain tomorrow,” he said, not knowing the pickens would be slim.

The next day, I was greeted by an unsmiling receptionist. Four unsmiling attorneys walked past me, glanced at me and then looked away while I waited in the lobby. This was going to be fun…

Tracey’s warm smile and greeting broke the somber mood. “Hi, Jon! I’m Tracey!” She offered me a beverage while she took me to the conference room, apologizing along the way for some construction disarray. “We had some recent water damage from a sprinkler system that went off accidentally. Excuse the mess.” 

Ryan entered a few minutes later. He wore a slight smile, and a beautiful blue tie. He extended a warm handshake, invited me to sit down, and immediately apologized for the flood damage. “Sorry for the mess. We’re lucky to be in business,” he said, flashing a smile.

With the disparity between my income and my soon-to-be-ex-wife’s, it was clear I wasn’t going to be quite so lucky.

“You’ve got an alimony risk,” the Drake graduate said, in a beautifully understated lawyerly way, after I told him I made six figures, and my wife earned a couple bucks occasionally babysitting for the neighbors. He mentioned my wife’s name, and mine as we talked. Great memory!

This was one of the first attorneys I secret shopped, so I didn’t quite have all the details ironed out in my head. This led to a weird moment.

“When were you married?” Ryan asked.

“1989,” I pulled out of my hat.

“How old are your wife’s children?”

“They’re 14 and 12,” I replied, thinking of my two favorite Powerball numbers.

He paused. “Uh…you said the children are from your wife’s previous marriage…”

“Yes.” If Ryan was the 5:15 DART,  I was getting to the bus stop around five til six.

“Did something happen?” he offered, trying to help out an old man.

Finally an incandescent light flickered inside my skull. 

“Oh…I’d really rather not talk about it right now.” Great save, Edison!

Ryan did a nice job of explaining the nuts and bolts of the process, from filing the petition for divorce, to mediation, to a possible trial, which he said was unlikely, and wouldn’t happen soon, even if things did get that far. “If we filed today, it would take 8 to 10 months to get in front of a judge.” Yikes. Ryan addressed my apprehensions. “We probably handle more divorce cases than anybody else in Iowa.” He didn’t mention how much this divorce might cost me – the only attorney to not offer that information.

Finally I let the cat out of the bag. I’ve never been married, I make 12 grand a year as a minor blogger and you’re on Unsecret Shopper Camera.

Ryan flashed a big smile; he was a great sport about it. “I was wondering about the ages of those kids, and the marriage date,” he laughed, although he said that’s not the strangest thing he’s ever heard. “You’d be surprised.”

Overall: Ryan is a consummate professional – all business, but pleasant and empathetic. And his tie, rocked.

Hope Law Firm

317 6th Avenue, Des Moines

Phone answered: “Thank you for calling Hope Law Firm.” (Very pleasant)

The receptionist asked “Can I help you?” as I approached her desk. Readers of The Unsecret Shopper know how I feel about closed-ended questions, that I think they’re evil, that they kill birds in mid-flight, that they’re responsible for WWII. A nicer, warmer, “Hi! How can I help you?” would have felt nicer and warmer. She did smile, offered me coffee and gave me a form to fill out while I waited in the lobby.

The info sheet was somewhat confusing, although I confuse easily. It asked for “number of marriages,” then, “number of previous marriages.” Those sounded like they were asking for the same number, unless I lived in Utah.

Further down the form, it asked for info about my wife. “Adverse Party Name.” “Adverse” may be a legal term, but the adjective felt unnecessary, and inflammatory, although some divorce-seekers might prefer something stronger.

Cynthia Lange soon appeared. “Hello Jon,” she said, with a nice smile, while shaking my hand.

Cynthia broke the news to me quickly, after I told her what I made, and what my wife didn’t. “You’ll be stuck with some alimony.” She did a nice job of explaining the three main types in Iowa: Temporary (helps spouse maintain lifestyle until actual divorce, and sometimes a bit after it), Permanent (paid throughout spouse’s life) and Rehabilitative (paid to a non-working spouse  until they can get back on their feet).

I’m voting for “None.”

“There is no actual set formula for alimony,” Cynthia explained, although she said also said they’re looking into changing that.

I told her I was anxious to move forward. “You may want to give her a carrot, to get this going,” she suggested. I already gave her a carat…

Cynthia was pleasant but very business-like. She obviously knew her stuff, but probably assumed a bit too much that I did, too; she used terms like “onus” and “exigent” and “answer and appearance” and other legalese that didn’t go over my head, but did glance off my forehead, making my eyes glaze over a bit. She also could have asked me a few more questions as she described the process, just to give me more ownership, and pull me into the conversation a bit more

I’d taken enough of this fine attorney’s time. I told her who I was, and why I was there.

Cynthia looked sort of shell-shocked at first, then slowly smiled. “I’ve never been secret shopped before!” she exclaimed. I get that all the time…

Overall: Cynthia is extremely knowledgeable and competent, and gives off a confident persona.

Phil Watson, P.C.

535 East Army Post Road, Des Moines

Phone answered: “Watson Law Firm.” (Pleasant)

I explained my plight to the receptionist, who engaged in a bit of chit-chat, then cut to the chase: “The charge for the initial consultation is $75.”

I declined.

An attorney’s gotta eat, I get that. Their time is money, rightfully so and totally understood. For this review, however, I decided that I’d only seek free consultations, because any money I spent on my fake divorce would be money I couldn’t spend on my real therapist.

 

Of the dozen attorneys/law firms I contacted, this was one of two that charged for the first visit. (You’ll read about the second one – who I did end up seeing for free - in Friday’s Part 2 review.)

Graves Law Firm

2024 92nd Court, Clive

Phone answered: “Tom Graves.”

I expected a receptionist to answer the phone; when Tom did, it sort of threw me.

Tom could have literally thrown me; he’s a big man. He works in a nondescript building, tucked back in an industrial area, off the beaten path.

“Come on in!” he yelled from his office, as I stepped into the receptionist’s area, a few days later.

I walked up to Tom, who flashed a quick smile and shook my hand, looking down and away from me. He invited me to sit down, then took his own advice, leaning back in his chair, with one foot pressing against the edge of his desk. “What’s up?”

I laid it out for him. Tom immediately tried to allay my fears. “Nobody goes to trial anymore,” he said, and went on to tell me about the backlog in the courts.

“I charge $200 an hour, and receive a $3,500 retainer.” That was all I needed to know to know I didn’t want to go to trial.

Tom Graves is a big man with a big persona; he’s a combination of attorney Melvin Belli (looks) and Dr. McCoy from Star Trek (demeanor), which is especially ironic since they both once appeared on the same show.

                                             (Belli + Bones = TG)

He’s very cordial, laid back and down to earth, a total straight-shooter. He’s also a hoot – especially when I told him I was a secret shopper.

“Well I’ll be (darned),” he said, laughing.

I asked him what it was like to be a divorce attorney. 

“I like family law, but they drive me crazy!” he said. Why? “Clients don’t tell you the truth,” he laughed. “People say they have their finances in order, but they often don’t.” 

When I asked him how many divorce cases he’s done, Tom replied, “In the past five years – probably a thousand, maybe more.”  

Tom was looking for #1,001.

“I want your divorce! I want your divorce!” he called out to me, jokingly, as I walked out.

Here’s a snowball…

The guy should have his own TV show. We’ll start with The Unsecret Shopper Radio Show, which you can hear him on, this Saturday morning, 8-9am on 1350 KRNT.

Overall: Tom is a down to earth, old-school, bigger-than-life attorney who’d be a blast to sit down and have a soda with.

Balduchi Law Firm

2801 Hubbell, Des Moines

Phone answered: “Law office.” (The phone greeting was a bit nondescript. It would benefit from some more information.)

I waited a bit in the lobby before the receptionist realized I was there. No problem. “Can I help you?” she asked. It’s especially important to ask an open-ended “How can I help you?” question when the person knows that the person they’re asking, has been waiting.

Soon I was greeted by Elizabeth Varnon, who shook my hand, used my name and invited me into a conference room.

Elizabeth soon began asking me questions about my situation, instead of simply describing the divorce process. That made her seem more compassionate. When I told her my wife wasn’t employed, and hadn’t been, she asked, “How come she doesn’t work?” in a slightly judgemental tone. Funny – I immediately felt like defending Jane, my pretend wife. A few minutes later, Elizabeth went the other way. “How is she taking it? How is she doing?” She was the only attorney to ask about my wife – awesome job!

Elizabeth maintained great eye contact as she thoroughly explained the divorce process.

“In Polk County, the courts want everything to be mediated,” she explained. “They don’t want to make it worse.” She also presented a secondary reason for mediation. “The judges get tired of hearing the same old crap.”

That seemed like a good time to tell her that my story was also crap-ola.

Elizabeth was sort of quiet at first, as she listened to me explain what I do (lie), where I do it (blog/radio show) and why (nobody really knows). She really began to get into it when I told her about all the good things she’d done, along with offering her a few ideas for making things even better.

Overall: Elizabeth is engaging, detail-driven, has a great sense of humor and knows her stuff.

Friday: Six more attorneys, including Kimberly Stamatelos, Richard Schmidt, Samantha Gronewald, Debra Hockett-Clark and more…

  

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.       

    

Ways to contact Jonnie:

    

Click to be taken to Jonnie’s Facebook page    

Click to be taken to Jonnie’s Twitter page    

Click to be taken to Jonnie’s blog    

Click to email Jonnie (jonnie@theunsecretshopper.com)    

Phone: 515-480-4190

The Unsecret Shopper Goes Shopping: Des Moines Auto Repair Online Part 2

 

Unless you own a car hoist (or a Prius, which weighs about as much as a Hot Wheel, and I know because I own both vehicles) you probably can’t see your car from the above POV.

That means you probably depend on an auto repair shop (or two) to fix your car when things need fixing. You may even use their websites to schedule the service.

That’s what I did - posing as “Carol Hartog,” a dude with an aging Saturn and a lot of time to kill. I/he scheduled service at 29 Des Moines area auto repair shops, using their website scheduling portals. Yesterday’s Part 1 review covered 14 shops. Today’s review looks at the other 15.

Besides imputing the data the portals asked for - make/model of car, service needed, dates/times desired, email address and phone number (I created an email address for Carol, and submitted my own cell phone number) – I also sent these additional comments:

I’ve got a 2001 Saturn that’s been having major transmission problems, and need a quote on a replacement tranny. Also need 4 new tires – please include these in a quote. Thank you.

Carol Hartog

Service for the shops featured yesterday was scheduled back on Monday, December 27th. Service for the shops in today’s review was scheduled on Friday, December 31st.

Since I train this customer service stuff, including with the employees of Westside Auto Pros, an auto repair shop in Clive (that was featured in yesterday’s review), I have a very strong idea of how fast the response should come, and how it should be worded.

Here’s what a perfect email response looks like, and why (from yesterday’s post):

Hi Carol!

Thank you for scheduling service with us!

We can definitely help you with your transmission problem, and take care of your tire needs. Which day would work best – Monday or Tuesday morning? We have a free shuttle service and can take you to and from work while your car is being worked on, or we also have free pick-up and delivery. Let me know which day and time works best, either via email or you can call me directly at 555-5555.

Thank you for choosing Westside Auto Pros! We look forward to seeing you next week!

 

Jonnie Wright

Master Customer Happy Care Empathetic Expert Uber-Mothering Specialist

Westside Auto Pros

The opening “hi” line is happy and informal and personalized, so the recipient feels like it was a person who wrote it, not a response bot. The second “thank you” paragraph expresses how thankful the writer is that the customer reached out to them. The third paragraph immediately allays the customer’s fears: “We can help you with that!” The next sentence empowers the customer by giving them options. It also asks the customer a question, and questions draw us in and make us feel like the person asking them, cares. The “shuttle” sentence displays a desire to make it as easy as possible for the customer, plus brands services that the customer may not be aware of. The “call me directly” line tells the customer that this person is taking ownership of their satisfaction. The next paragraph thanks the customer again (kill ‘em with kindness) and expresses enthusiasm for seeing the customer. The signature is ridiculous.

The perfect phone interaction mirrors the email. The perfect duration for receiving a response (phone or email) after requesting service, using an online portal, is two hours.

That’s what I’m looking for. Let us see what I got.

 

Aamco Total Car Care

(sent into their corporate portal)

Request submitted: Friday 8:40am

Response received (email): Monday 8:41am

Dear Customer:  Since each AAMCO center is independently owned and operated, prices will vary.  Please contact your nearest AAMCO center by dialing 1-800-GO-AAMCO for more information.  AAMCO Customer Relations.

From: webmaster@aamcoupdates.com [mailto:webmaster@aamcoupdates.com]
Sent: Friday, December 31, 2010 9:39 AM
To: aacr.mail@rcn.com; fbu@pwmedia.com; cr.mail
Subject: Contact us – Regarding AAMCO Services

The Topic Area of the Message was: Services

The other Topic Area of the Message was:

The Customer comments were: I’ve got a 2001 Saturn that’s having major transmission problems, and need a quote on a replacement tranny. Also needs 4 new tires – please include those in a quote. Thank you. Carol Hartog

The Name of the customer was: Carol Hartog

The Customer e-mail was: hartogcarol@yahoo.com

The Customer phone was: 515-480-4190
The Customer Address was: West Des Moines,Iowa 50265

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Comments: “Dear customer” is not the most customer-friendly way to start an email written by someone from “customer relations,” especially when they had Carol’s name. There’s a lot of stuff in this email that doesn’t matter to the customer receiving it. There’s also no thank you. If this email was generated by an auto-bot, it was a slow-moving auto-bot. If it was written by a human being, they should prove it, by writing it in a more friendly way.

Bob Brown Chevrolet

4224 Merle Hay Road

Request submitted: Friday 8:53am

Response received (email): Friday 12:11pm

Carol,

I need the vin # off your Saturn to price you a transmission.

Please reply.

Thank you.

Comments: The email starts with Carol’s name, which is good. It’s polite, also good. It’s to the point, to the point of feeling like the person who wrote it was busy, and in a hurry. There was no signature – the only way I know this was from Bob Brown is because of the email address it came from: boblundy@bobbrownauto.com. That seems weird for a large dealership.

Charles Gabus Ford

4545 Merle Hay Road, Des Moines

Request submitted: Friday 9:20am

Response received (automated email): Friday 9:20am

Dear Carol,

Thank you for requesting a service appointment with Charles Gabus Ford.

You have requested the following appointment:

DATE: 01/03/2011, 
TIME: 8:00 AM
VEHICLE: 2001 Saturn Vue.

We will contact you via Cell Phone as soon as possible to confirm your requested service date and time. Please note that your requested appointment is not guaranteed
until you have received final confirmation. Thank you for your business and we look forward to serving you in the near future.

Sincerely,
Charles Gabus Ford
www.gabusford.com

Response received (phone): Friday 9:35am

Lowell: “Carol this is Lowell from Charles Gabus Ford. You’d requested an oil change for Monday?” (Yes.) “Were you looking for Merle Hay Mitsubishi (Des Moines Imports) or Charles Gabus Ford?” (He’d apparently received both requests via email, since CGF and MHM are owned by The Gabus Group. I told him I sent it to both places because I wanted to see who would respond first.) “Oh, okay…this doesn’t sound like a Carol. But anyway, I can get you in here first thing Monday morning, just go ahead and bring it in.” (Okay.) “Can you describe what’s happening?” (I made up some stuff.) “Well unfortunately, we probably couldn’t help you with that. You’d be better off taking it to a GM dealer. Those electronic transmissions have to be taken apart sometimes to figure out the problem and that’s just not something we’re equipped to take a look at. We can do any light service work on it. (Okay.) I’d hate to have you bring it in and just charge you a bunch of money to not be able to solve it. As far as transmission work, you’d be better served by taking it to a GM dealer. I wish I could help you.”

Comments: I love the personalized auto email response. It’s stronger than some written by actual people.  As for the phone call, Lowell was doing great, until his crack about “This doesn’t sound like a Carol.” You never want to make a judgement about someone’s name or voice or gender or anything – that’s a bad road to go down. Lowell did a nice job trying to diagnose the transmission problem, and explaining why he couldn’t work on it. He was apologetic. But he also neglected to mention the tires that I’d requested, which he does have. He also directed me to a direct competitor, which I think is a very bad idea for any business.

Des Moines Imports

1650 SE 37th, Grimes

Request submitted: Friday 9:15am

Response received (automated email): Friday 9:16

Dear Carol,

Thank you for requesting a service appointment with Des Moines Imports Mitsubishi.

You have requested the following appointment:

DATE: 01/03/2011, 
TIME: 8:00 AM
VEHICLE: 2001 Saturn Vue.

We will contact you via Email as soon as possible to confirm your requested service date and time. Please note that your requested appointment is not guaranteed
until you have received final confirmation. Thank you for your business and we look forward to serving you in the near future.

Sincerely,
Des Moines Imports Mitsubishi
www.dsmmitsu.com

Response received (email): Friday 11:54am

Carol,

What size tires does you Vue have ?

Let us know
—– Original Message —– From: “DI Website Leads” <dlrleads@di-web3.net>
To: <larry@desmoinesimports.com>
Sent: Friday, December 31, 2010 9:15 AM

Subject: Website Lead: Service Appointment Request

> contact_guid :
> firstName : Carol
> lastName : Hartog
> phone : 515-480-4190
> email : hartogcarol@yahoo.com
> eveningPhone :
> cellPhone :
> company :
> contact_me : Email
> :
> dateTime : 01/03/2011
> hour : 8
> minute : 00
> prefix : AM
> service_advisor :

> serviced_before : No
> vehicleYear : 2001

> vehicleManufacturer : Saturn
> vehicleVin :
> vehicleModel : Vue
> work_done : Other
> other :
> comment : I’ve got a 2001 Saturn that’s having major transmission problems, and need a quote on a replacement tranny. Also needs 4 new
> tires – please include those in a quote. Thank you.
>
>
> Carol Hartog

> formType : 5AC45716-F787-E7D9-0461-595E8B8E21C6
> leadSource : DI Service Request
>
> Site Name: Des Moines Imports Mitsubishi

Comments: Great automated email – same as Charles Gabus Ford. The email written by a human wasn’t as strong. And there’s no reason that all that extra computer-generated text has to be sent along with the 11 words written by the sender – whoever it was, since there’s no signature.

Dewey Ford

3055 SE Delaware, Ankeny

Request submitted: Friday 9:02am

Response received: NO RESPONSE

Firestone Complete Auto Care

1650 22nd Street West Des Moines

Request submitted: Friday 8:22am

Response received (automated email): Friday 9:35am

Online Schedule Confirmation

Dear Carol Hartog,
Thank you for choosing Firestone Complete Auto Care by Firestone’s Online Appointment Center Site to schedule an appointment for your 2001 Saturn L100, Default for the following services:

Service Information: 
Tire Replacement
Maintenance Comments: Ive got a 2001 Saturn thats having major transmission problems, and need a quote on a replacement tranny. Also needs 4 new tires – please include those in a quote. Thank you. Carol Hartog
This is to confirm your appointment for: Jan 3 2011 8:00AM
Wait or Drop Off: I will leave my vehicle.
Location: 
Firestone Complete Auto Care Store
1650 22Nd St
W Des Moines, IA 50266-1407
After receiving this confirmation, should your appointment need to be rescheduled or cancelled, please notify us by replying to this email or phoning the store directly at (515) 225-8160 .Thank you,
Firestone Complete Auto Care        
Original Submission 
The individual below has submitted an Online Appointment request: 
Carol Hartog
1127 11th Street
West Des Moines, IA 50265
Daytime phone:(515) 480-4190
Evening phone:(515) 480-4190
Cell phone:
Email Address:hartogcarol@yahoo.com
Vehicle Information: 
2001 Saturn L100
Approximate Mileage:90000
Service Information: 
Tire Replacement
Maintenance Comments: Ive got a 2001 Saturn thats having major transmission problems, and need a quote on a replacement tranny. Also needs 4 new tires – please include those in a quote. Thank you. Carol Hartog
Store Information: 
Firestone Complete Auto Care Store
1650 22Nd St
W Des Moines, IA 50266-1407
(515) 225-8160

Comments: The email is informative, but it feels like no human hands touched it. Great customer service comes from humans sharing emotions, not computers sharing data.

Firestone Complete Auto Care

4323 Fleur Drive, Des Moines

Request submitted: Friday 8:25am

Response received: NO RESPONSE

Hummels Nissan

4770 Merle Hay Road, Des Moines

Request submitted: Friday 10:12am (The most detailed scheduling process of all the portals, it also asks you to register and log in, by creating a username and password.)

Response received (automated email): Friday 10:15am

one2onelogo
ACCOUNT REGISTRATION
Carol Hartog
Iowa
HOME: (515) 480-4190YOU’RE REGISTERED TO MAKE VEHICLE SERVICE APPOINTMENTS ONLINE Dear Carol Hartog,Welcome to Nissan and thank you for creating your new online account.Username:     carolhartogPlease remember this information, as you will be prompted for it every time you log on to your account. Next time you need to schedule a service appointment you can easily log on to your account and set it up at your convenience.To access and make changes to your account, please visit us at My Account
Sincerely,
HUMMELS NISSAN
(515) 251-8130 HUMMELS NISSAN
4770 Merle Hay Road ?
Urbandale, Iowa 50322Please Note: This is an automated message. Please do not reply to it.
logo

Response received (automated email): Friday 10:16am

one2onelogo
APPOINTMENT CONFIRMATION
Carol Hartog
Iowa
APPOINTMENT CONFIRMATION Thank you for booking your service appointment online.This is to confirm your service appointment with HUMMELS NISSAN for your OTHER OTHER on 01/03/2011 08:15 AM for the following services:Repair Services:

Tell Us More
Note: Repair times and costs vary based upon the nature of the repair, parts availability, your warranty status, and other factors. Once your vehicle is in the shop, we will diagnose your problem and contact you as soon as we can to provide details and specific time and cost estimate. Diagnostic and/or repair fees may apply if work to be performed is not covered under warranty.

Your appointment confirmation code is EL90D95G0T

If you need to reschedule this appointment, click Appointment Details.
Visit us at http://nissan.xtime.com/40006 for your general appointment taking needs.

We look forward to seeing you. If you have any questions, please contact us using the information listed below.

Sincerely,
HUMMELS NISSAN
(515) 251-8130

Directions:
4770 Merle Hay Road ? , Urbandale, Iowa – 50322
Map: Map to Dealership

HUMMELS NISSAN
4770 Merle Hay Road ?
Urbandale, Iowa 50322

Please Note: This is an automated message. Please do not reply to it.

logo
Inline Attachment Follows: Service_Appointment.vcs
BEGIN:VCALENDAR
METHOD:PUBLISH
VERSION:1.0
BEGIN:VEVENT
DTSTART:20110103T141500Z
DTEND:20110103T223000Z
LOCATION;ENCODING=QUOTED-PRINTABLE:4770 Merle Hay Road ?  , Urbandale, Iowa, 50322,
SUMMARY;ENCODING=QUOTED-PRINTABLE:HUMMELS NISSAN Service Appointment
DESCRIPTION;ENCODING=QUOTED-PRINTABLE:Your detailed appointment information is as follows: =0D=0A=0D=0ADealership Info: =0D=0A  HUMMELS NISSAN =0D=0A  http://nissan.xtime.com/40006” target=_blank >http://nissan.xtime.com/40006=0D=0A=0D=0AAppointment Info: =0D=0AAdvisor: Jamie Widen =0D=0AConfirmation Code: EL90D95G0T =0D=0A=0D=0ACustomer Info: =0D=0A          Name: Carol Hartog =0D=0A  Phone Numbers: HOME: (515) 480-4190 =0D=0A=0D=0AVehicle Info: =0D=0A  2001, OTHER, OTHER =0D=0A=0D=0A=0D=0AService Info: =0D=0A=0D=0ARepair Service(s): =0D=0ATell Us More=0D=0A=0D=0A=0D=0AThanks for using Xtime’s ServiceCRM! =0D=0A=0D=0A
STATUS:CONFIRMED
PRIORITY:3
END:VEVENT
END:VCALENDAR

Response received (automated email): Saturday 9:58am

one2onelogo
APPOINTMENT REMINDER
Carol Hartog
Iowa
APPOINTMENT REMINDERConfirmation Code:    EL90D95G0T
Date and Time:        01/03/2011 08:15 AM
Vehicle:                  2001 OTHER OTHER
VIN Number:             Dear Carol Hartog,This is an automated appointment reminder for your 01/03/2011 08:15 AM service appointment. Thank you for taking the time to schedule your appointment in advance as we appreciate your patronage.The following services are scheduled:Repair Services:

Driveability Concern
Note: Repair times and costs vary based upon the nature of the repair, parts availability, your warranty status, and other factors. Once your vehicle is in the shop, we will diagnose your problem and contact you as soon as we can to provide details and specific time and cost estimate. Diagnostic and/or repair fees may apply if work to be performed is not covered under warranty.
Notes:

WEB APPT CREATED 2010-12-31 10:15:24AM TAKEN BY CAROL HA RTOG

Click here (Appointment Details) to manage your appointment directly.

Visit us at http://nissan.xtime.com/40006 for your general appointment taking needs.

We look forward to seeing you. If you have any questions, please contact us using the information listed below. Thanks for using our online scheduling solution!

Sincerely,
HUMMELS NISSAN
(515) 251-8130

Directions:
4770 Merle Hay Road ? , Urbandale, Iowa – 50322
Map: Map to Dealership

HUMMELS NISSAN
4770 Merle Hay Road ?
Urbandale, Iowa 50322

Please Note: This is an automated message. Please do not reply to it.

logo
Inline Attachment Follows: Service_Appointment.vcs
BEGIN:VCALENDAR
METHOD:PUBLISH
VERSION:1.0
BEGIN:VEVENT
DTSTART:20110103T141500Z
DTEND:20110103T223000Z
LOCATION;ENCODING=QUOTED-PRINTABLE:4770 Merle Hay Road ?  , Urbandale, Iowa, 50322,
SUMMARY;ENCODING=QUOTED-PRINTABLE:HUMMELS NISSAN Service Appointment
DESCRIPTION;ENCODING=QUOTED-PRINTABLE:Your detailed appointment information is as follows: =0D=0A=0D=0ADealership Info: =0D=0A  HUMMELS NISSAN =0D=0A  http://nissan.xtime.com/40006” target=_blank >http://nissan.xtime.com/40006=0D=0A=0D=0AAppointment Info: =0D=0AAdvisor: Jamie Widen =0D=0AConfirmation Code: EL90D95G0T =0D=0ANote: WEB APPT CREATED 2010-12-31 10:15:24AM TAKEN BY CAROL HA RTOG =0D=0A=0D=0ACustomer Info: =0D=0A          Name: Carol Hartog =0D=0A  Phone Numbers: HOME: (515) 480-4190 =0D=0A=0D=0AVehicle Info: =0D=0A  2001, OTHER, OTHER =0D=0A=0D=0A=0D=0AService Info: =0D=0A=0D=0ARepair Service(s): =0D=0ADriveability Concern=0D=0A=0D=0A=0D=0AThanks for using Xtime’s ServiceCRM! =0D=0A=0D=0A
STATUS:CONFIRMED
PRIORITY:3
END:VEVENT
END:VCALENDAR

Comments: I like the email reminder on Saturday. But three email confirmations for one scheduled service? It’s overkill, and unnecessary, as is all the data gibberish at the end of the 2nd and 3rd emails. There’s a distinct feeling that no actual person took a look at Carol’s issues. Maybe that’s because all three emails included this warning: “This is an automated message. Please do not reply to it.” Where’s the personal touch?

Karl Chevrolet

1101 SE Oralabor Road, Ankeny

Request submitted: Friday 9:05am

Response received (automated email): Friday 9:06am

Dear Carol,

Thank you for requesting a service appointment with Karl Chevrolet.

You have requested the following appointment:

DATE: 01/03/2011
TIME: 8:00 AM
VEHICLE: 2011 Saturn Vue.

We will contact you via Email as soon as possible to confirm your requested service date and time. Please note that your requested appointment is not guaranteed
until you have received final confirmation. Thank you for your business and we look forward to serving you in the near future.

Sincerely,
Karl Chevrolet
www.karlchevrolet.com

Response received (email): Friday 9:43am

Hi Carol,

We will be happy to try to help you with this request.
For the transmission quote we will just be close, as we will not know for sure until the vehicle is seen in our Service Dept and technically diagnosed.
And for the tires, we just need to know what size brand and style you would like, and then we will be able to get you prices.

Thanks for choosing Karl Chevrolet, we look forward to working with you, and will be waiting on the tire info to get you quotes.

Sincerely,
Cheryl Schoof

—–Original Message—–
From: DI Website Leads [mailto:dlrleads@di-web3.net]
Sent: Friday, December 31, 2010 9:05 AM
To: serviceleads

Subject: Website Lead: Service Appointment Request

contact_guid :
firstName : Carol
lastName : Hartog
phone : 515-480-4190
email : hartogcarol@yahoo.com

eveningPhone :
cellPhone :
company :
contact_me : Email
:
dateTime : 01/03/2011
hour : 8

minute : 00
prefix : AM
service_advisor :
serviced_before :
vehicleYear : 2011
vehicleManufacturer : Saturn
vehicleVin :
vehicleModel : Vue
work_done : Other
other :
comment : I’ve got a 2001 Saturn that’s having major transmission problems, and need a quote on a replacement tranny. Also needs 4 new
tires – please include those in a quote. Thank you.

Carol Hartog
formType : 1B619B46-EC10-11DA-9B41-B622A1EF5492
leadSource : DI Service Request

Site Name: Karl Chevrolet

Comments: Karl Chevrolet is using the same software as Charles Gabus Ford/Des Moines Imports. The automated email response is great. The human response from Cheryl was equally strong. She addressed Carol by name, used that powerful “We can help you with that” type of phrase, right out of the gate, and added a nice “would be happy to,” which I’m going to steal. :) Cheryl’s language is soft, inviting and thankful – awesome job! There were some sentence separation issues. And get rid of that impersonal junk after Cheryl’s wonderfully personal email. Make it clean, like the automated one.

Midas

2010 Ingersoll, Des Moines

Request submitted: Friday 10:05am (Upon submission, the site flashes a message: “”A Midas representative will respond to you within the next 1 business hour.”)

Response received (automated email): Friday 10:05am

To ensure future delivery of emails, please add midascustomercare@mymidasmail.com to your address book or safe sender list
COUPONS AND OFFERS | MIDAS SERVICES | AUTO EDUCATION | SAFETY TIPS | MIDAS GUARANTEE
midas_logo
thank_you
for requesting and appointment at your local midas

SOMEONE FROM THIS SHOP WILL RESPOND TO YOUR REQUEST WITHIN 1 BUSINESS HOUR(S).
Contact information for this shop is provided below for your convenience.
midas_people1 Midas Des Moines
2010 Ingersoll Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50312
515-243-1253Hours of service
Monday – Friday 7:00AM – 5:30PM, Saturday 8:00AM – 5:00PM, Sunday Closed
midas people 2
Shop Page
Driving Directions
THANK YOU FOR RELYING ON MIDAS TO MEET ALL YOUR AUTO CARE NEEDS.
OUR SERVICE PLEDGE: We will always do right by you and your car - and help keep you safely on the road.

Response received (phone): Friday 11:03am

Jeff: “Hi this is Jeff from Midas, I’m looking for Carol.” (This is he.) “I could probably find a transmission for you and swap it out but as far as transmission work, I’d suggest a transmission place, like All Drive Transmissions on MLK Drive. It’s cheaper to take it to a transmission shop. Don’t get me wrong, I want your business, a dollar’s a dollar.” (I laugh.) “As far as the tires go, what size are they?” (I tell him they’re 205′s.)  I can do four for $465. There’s a better tire for $524.” (Let’s go with the more expensive ones.) “Let me check availability and email you back. I’m actually a roving manager and only here one day a week. Tom wil be here on Monday and get you fixed up. I’ll email you back. Thank you.”

Comments: This automated email response was the most colorful of all I received. It’s also the best marketing piece, focusing on emotions rather than details. Jeff got back to me within an hour, as the automated email promised – awesome! He was very personable on the phone, although he didn’t attempt to diagnose my transmission problem; he just assumed that I knew that I needed a new one. That had him directing me to a transmission shop, which may not sell tires but might know someone who sells them cheaper than Jeff’s quote. I’m always leery of giving customers a reason to shop elsewhere. Jeff gave me the least expensive quote first – I might have started with the most expensive, since it’s always better (and easier) to negotiate down, rather than up. Jeff thanked me at the end, but didn’t email me back, as promised.

Midas

1690 NW 86th Street, Clive

Request submitted: Friday 10:07am (The same message appears as when I scheduled the above Midas appointment: “A Midas representative will respond to you within the next 1 business hour.”)

Response received (automated email): Friday 10:07am

To ensure future delivery of emails, please add midascustomercare@mymidasmail.com to your address book or safe sender list
COUPONS AND OFFERS | MIDAS SERVICES | AUTO EDUCATION | SAFETY TIPS | MIDAS GUARANTEE
midas_logo
thank_you
for requesting and appointment at your local midas

SOMEONE FROM THIS SHOP WILL RESPOND TO YOUR REQUEST WITHIN 1 BUSINESS HOUR(S).
Contact information for this shop is provided below for your convenience.
midas_people1 Midas Clive
1690 Northwest 86th Street
Clive, IA 50325
515-226-1199 Hours of service
Monday – Friday 7:30AM – 6:00PM, Saturday 8:00AM – 5:00PM, Sunday Closed
midas people 2
Shop Page
Driving Directions
THANK YOU FOR RELYING ON MIDAS TO MEET ALL YOUR AUTO CARE NEEDS.
OUR SERVICE PLEDGE: We will always do right by you and your car - and help keep you safely on the road.

Response received (email): Friday 4:32pm

I received your email  and we can look at your car on Monday morning no problem.  We can easily provide you with an estimate on tires.  We do not rebuild transmissions ourselves but if you need a replacement transmission we can certainly help you with that.  Thanks
Rich Wright Jr.
Midas / ASE, Inc.
1690 NW 86th St.
Clive, Iowa 50325
Phone 515-226-1199
Fax    515-226-1232

________________________________

From: MidasCustomerCare@mymidasmail.com [mailto:MidasCustomerCare@mymidasmail.com]
Sent: Fri 12/31/2010 10:09 AM
To: MIDAS55@MidasAse.com; RussGibson@MidasAse.com
Subject: Book Appointment Dealer Email

FirstName: Carol
LastName: Hartog
ApptRequestDate: 3-Jan-2011
ApptRequestTime: 07:30 AM – 09:30 AM
ServiceRequested: transmission work and 4 new tires
Make: Saturn
Model: Vue
Year: 2001
Symptoms: I’ve got a 2001 Saturn that’s having major transmission problems, and need a quote on a replacement tranny. Also needs 4 new tires – please include those in a quote. Thank you. Carol Hartog
EmailAddress: hartogcarol@yahoo.com
Phone: 515-480-4190
ShopNumber: 2185
ShopPhone: 515-226-1199
ShopEmail: midas55@midasase.com
ShopNotifyVoice: F
ShopNotifyFax: F

**************************************************
This e-mail and any of its attachments may contain Auto Systems Experts Inc. proprietary information, which is privileged, confidential, or subject to copyright belonging to the Auto Systems Experts Inc. family of Companies. This e-mail is intended solely for the use of the individual or entity to which it is addressed. If you are not the intended recipient of this e-mail, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution, copying, or action taken in relation to the contents of and attachments to this e-mail is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful. If you have received this e-mail in error, please notify the sender immediately and permanently delete the original and any copy of this e-mail and any printout. Thank You. **************************************************

Response received (phone) Tuesday 9:32am

Rich: “We missed your Monday appointment. How is the car running?” (Great – a friend fixed it.) “Let us know if we can help you with anything else. Thank you.”

Comments: Rich missed the “get back to you in 1 hour” promise by five hours, but his email was kind. (Add Carol’s name at the beginning, Rich!) He was also the only service advisor who followed up with me after I missed my scheduled appointment. Awesome job!

Stew Hansens Dodge

12103 Hickman Road, Urbandale

Request submitted: Friday 8:59am (I attempted to use their online portal, but it only offered Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep for “make of car.” I emailed the service request directly to Mike Golwitzer, Service Manager.)

Response received (email): Friday 11:11am

Hello this is Chip at Stew Hansens. I was getting back to you with the estimate you requested for your vehicle. I was wondering if you had teh whole vin number , all 17 digits, so I can make a more accurate estimate. This will tell me what engine size, transmission type, year make and model then I can get you a more exact estimate. On the tires do you happen to have a brande name in mind and also are you wanting oem replacement and waht size might the tires be? If you can get me that inbformation I can work up an exact estimate.

Thanks again.

Chip Pearson

Service Advisor

Stew Hansens Dodge

Direct Line: 515-202-7614

Comments: Chip was quick – he got back to me in under two hours. His email was polite, and helpful. He didn’t mention Carol’s name, which can really personalize an email. It also needs a once-over with spell check. And I don’t know what “oem” is – but I’m sure it’s important. :)

Stivers Ford Lincoln

1450 East Hickman, Waukee

Request submitted: Friday 9:10am (There was no apparent scheduling portal, so I sent a direct request to Scott Passage, Service Manager.)

Response received (email): Friday 10:30am

Carol, could you please provide a VIN# for the vehicle as parts department will need to price correct transmission and tire prices. Thanks

Comments: That’s it? I know this is from Scott only because of the email address it came from – there’s no signature, and this email could use one. It also would be helped by more pleasantries. I realize that Scott is probably very busy. But if a customer takes the time to email an employee directly, then that employee should take the time to make that customer feel good about doing so. Transcend the transaction. Consumers deserve it, and will reward those companies that do so.

Tires Plus

3130 Merle Hay Road

Request submitted: Friday 8:30am

Response received (automated email): Friday 8:35am

Online Schedule Confirmation

Dear Carol Hartog,
Thank you for choosing Tires Plus Total Car Care by Tires Plus’s Online Appointment Center Site to schedule an appointment for your 2001 Saturn L100, Default for the following services:

Service Information: 
Tire Replacement
Maintenance Comments: Ive got a 2001 Saturn thats having major transmission problems, and need a quote on a replacement tranny. Also needs 4 new tires – please include those in a quote. Thank you. Carol Hartog
This is to confirm your appointment for: Jan 3 2011 8:00AM
Wait or Drop Off: I will leave my vehicle.
Location: 
Tires Plus Store
3130 Merle Hay Rd
Des Moines, IA 50310-1235
After receiving this confirmation, should your appointment need to be rescheduled or cancelled, please notify us by replying to this email or phoning the store directly at (515) 253-9431 .Thank you,
Tires Plus Total Car Care       
Original Submission 
The individual below has submitted an Online Appointment request: 
Carol Hartog
1127 11th Street
West Des Moines, IA 50265
Daytime phone:(515) 480-4190
Evening phone:
Cell phone:
Email Address:hartogcarol@yahoo.com
Vehicle Information: 
2001 Saturn L100
Approximate Mileage:90000
Service Information: 
Tire Replacement
Maintenance Comments: Ive got a 2001 Saturn thats having major transmission problems, and need a quote on a replacement tranny. Also needs 4 new tires – please include those in a quote. Thank you. Carol Hartog
Store Information: 
Tires Plus Store
3130 Merle Hay Rd
Des Moines, IA 50310-1235
(515) 253-9431

Response received (phone): Friday 9:26am

Darryl: “(Indecipherable at the beginning – I think he said “This is Darryl from Tires Plus on Merle Hay Road. Is this Carol?” I say “yes,” hoping he didn’t just ask me if he can borrow my toothbrush.) “We’ll see you Monday at 8am when you drop off your Saturn.” (Okay.) “We’ll talk about tire options, and take a look at your transmission when you bring it in.” (Okay.) “Thank you, sir. See you then.”

Comments: Tires Plus appears to use the same response software as Firestone. The difference with TP is that a human being called me back, and that makes all the difference. Darryl sped through his greeting, but did a nice job of cutting to the chase and getting me in the shop, without trying to diagnose or price or anything else. I love the way he handled the call – until he called me “sir” at the end. Ouch. You know my name, so make sure you use it throughout the conversation.

Tires Plus

3701 East 14th, Des Moines

Request submitted: Friday 8:35am

Response received (automated email): Friday 10:42am

Online Schedule Confirmation

Dear Carol Hartog,

Thank you for choosing Tires Plus Total Car Care by Tires Plus’s Online Appointment Center Site to schedule an appointment for your 2001 Saturn L100, Default for the following services:
Service Information: 
Tire Replacement
Maintenance Comments: Ive got a 2001 Saturn thats having major transmission problems, and need a quote on a replacement tranny. Also needs 4 new tires – please include those in a quote. Thank you. Carol Hartog
This is to confirm your appointment for: Jan 3 2011 8:00AM
Wait or Drop Off: I will leave my vehicle.
Location: 
Tires Plus Store
3701 E 14Th St Ste 100
Des Moines, IA 50313-3809
After receiving this confirmation, should your appointment need to be rescheduled or cancelled, please notify us by replying to this email or phoning the store directly at (515) 262-4303 

Thank you,
Tires Plus Total Car Care

Original Submission 
The individual below has submitted an Online Appointment request: 
Carol Hartog
1127 11th Street
West Des Moines, IA 50265
Daytime phone:(515) 480-4190
Evening phone:
Cell phone:
Email Address:hartogcarol@yahoo.com
Vehicle Information: 
2001 Saturn L100
Approximate Mileage:90000
Service Information: 
Tire Replacement
Maintenance Comments: Ive got a 2001 Saturn thats having major transmission problems, and need a quote on a replacement tranny. Also needs 4 new tires – please include those in a quote. Thank you. Carol Hartog
Store Information: 
Tires Plus Store
3701 E 14Th St Ste 100
Des Moines, IA 50313-3809
(515) 262-4303 

Response received (phone): Friday 10:50am

Gino: “Hi, this is Gino at Tires Plus. Is this Carol?” (Yes.) “You were looking for tires, sir? (Yes.) What size tire?” (205′s.) “We’ve got only four left in that size.” (Okay.) “And I understand you need a tranny flush, sir?” (No, I wrote that I am having problems with the transmission. I describe the problem. He went away from the phone for a while, then came back.) “As far as the transmission, we don’t do transmissions. We do tranny flushes. We don’t rebuild them.” (Okay, so you can’t work on it?) “No, no! We can work on it, sir! We do something called a TVI. total vehicle inspection, we can check it out, see what’s wrong with it. But you said it’s hesitating?” (Someone in the office says something to him.) “We don’t touch transmissions at all. What do you think” (to someone in the office) The flush will make it worse. You’ll want to take it to a transmission place. We actually don’t do transmissions. We can do the new tires. When do you anticipate the vehicle being here?” (I’d scheduled it for Monday on the Tires Plus online form) “Wait a second here – checking…Monday the 3rd? Are you going to be waiting for the vehicle sir?” (I’d already answered that on the online form.) “Okay I’ve got you down for Monday, four new tires, you’re dropping it off at 8am. If you ned anything else, you let me know, okay? Thank you sir, goodbye”

Comments: I like the Tires Plus Total Car Care logo sitting on top of the automated email. I didn’t like feeling like Gino hadn’t looked at the information I’d submitted. If they’re not looking at that, what else might they not look at? Gino was polite and kind, but he seemed confused. He also called me “sir” repeatedly. Using the customer’s name knocks down the walls that exist between people who don’t know each other. And make sure you have all the details straight before you call the customer.

 

Overall:

Removing Westside Auto Pros from the choices of “Who did the best?”, I think Troy at Cottman Auto Care is our phone winner. He was personable, thoughtful and followed a lot of my customer service training points, without knowing who I am, or giving a rat’s patooty about what I do. Great job, Troy! The email winner is Cheryl from Karl Chevrolet. Her email was the perfect balance of caring and knowledge. Awesome job, Cheryl! And I’ll give an honorary mention to Rich at Midas, for being the only person to follow up after I missed my appointment. (That includes Westside Auto Pros.)

Perhaps I’ll mention that during next week’s WSAP training. :)

 

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. 

Ways to contact Jonnie:

Click to be taken to Jonnie’s Facebook page

Click to be taken to Jonnie’s Twitter page

Click to be taken to Jonnie’s blog

Click to email Jonnie (jonnie@theunsecretshopper.com)

Phone: 515-480-4190

The Unsecret Shopper Goes Shopping: Des Moines Auto Repair Online Part 1

 

Hello shoppers…

 

 

My first car (pictured, above, in 1983) which I got when I was 15 (on Christmas Day, 1979) was a ’72 Chevy Bel-Air. Between that day and the day the car was retired in the winter of 1985, I:

1. Drove it into a ditch while trying to memorize a speech I was looking at, instead of the road.

2. Ran it into the back of a guy’s truck which I wasn’t looking at, while I read a magazine.

3. Didn’t read the opening marked “motor oil” when I put transmission fluid in it.

4. Changed a flat tire with an even flatter spare, 7 times.

5. Set fire to the engine while trying to unflood it by pouring gas into the carburetor.

6. Traded it a week later for a ’72 Corolla.

26 years later and eight months ago, I immersed myself once again in the world of auto repair, this time at a safe distance, as a Secret Shopper – which became a review of 15 Des Moines area auto repair shops.

Last week I did some work on my Prius (I washed it) and thought it might be interesting to revisit some of those same shops, plus others. Except this time, I decided to shop them from the comfort of my post-Christmas rear end.

I created a fake person (“Carol Hartog”) and a real email address (hartogcarol@yahoo.com) and submitted a fake service request to 29 shops over two different days (Monday and Friday of last week) using their website portals. I sent the request through the service department portals of most of the major dealerships in the Des Moines area, plus select franchise locations of places that specialize in auto repair, and some mom and pop stand-alones.

Today’s Part 1 includes those shops I contacted last Monday, December 27th. Tomorrow’s Part 2 shops were contacted on Friday the 31st

Most of the sites have specific scheduling portals. With these, I put in the make/model of car, the service needed and the dates and times I wanted the service done. If there was no specific scheduling option, I emailed the request to the shop owner, or a service advisor, or went through the company’s corporate portal. 

For all of them, I wrote and submitted the following scenario:

I have a ’72 Bel-Air Chevy with a broken hood, a burnt engine and four flat tires – it needs an oil change.

Kiddin. I actually wrote this:

I’ve got a 2001 Saturn that’s been having major transmission problems, and need a quote on a replacement tranny. Also need 4 new tires – please include these in a quote. Thank you.

Carol Hartog

Full disclosure: I am a customer service trainer for Westside Auto Pros, an auto repair shop in Clive. (They were also secret shopped for this review). Part of my training with their staff includes how best to follow up with, and engage customers (email and phone) who have scheduled service via WSAP’s website.

The “perfect” email response, in my training world, looks something like this:

Hi Carol!

Thank you for scheduling service with us!

We can definitely help you with your transmission problem, and take care of your tire needs. Which day would work best – Thursday or Friday morning? We have a free shuttle service and can take you to and from work while your car is being worked on, or we also have free pick-up and delivery. Let me know which day and time works best, either via email or you can call me directly at 555-5555.

Thank you for choosing Westside Auto Pros! We look forward to seeing you this week!

 

Jonnie Wright

Master Customer Happy Care Empathetic Expert Uber-Mothering Specialist

Westside Auto Pros

The opening “hi” line is happy and informal and personalized, so the recipient feels like it was a person who wrote it, not a response bot. The second “thank you” paragraph expresses how thankful the writer is that the customer reached out to them. The third paragraph immediately allays the customer’s fears: “We can help you with that!” The next sentence empowers the customer by giving them options. It also asks the customer a question, and questions draw us in and make us feel like the person asking them, cares. The “shuttle” sentence displays a desire to make it as easy as possible for the customer, plus brands services that the customer may not be aware of. The “call me directly” line tells the customer that this person is taking ownership of their satisfaction. The next paragraph thanks the customer again (kill ‘em with kindness) and expresses enthusiasm for seeing the customer. The signature is ridiculous.

The perfect phone interaction mirrors the email. The perfect duration for receiving a response (phone or email) after requesting service, using an online portal, is two hours.

Think I’m micro-managing this? Yep. In the ultra competitive world of auto repair, the players have to be nearly perfect – they have to get it (W)right, 99% of the time.

Many of them do not, and pay the price.

If you Google search “auto repair complaints,” you get 6,620,000 pages. Do the same with “auto repair accolades” and nothing comes up. That could be because I spelled it with two k’s. Regardless, the internet is a hornet’s nest for people who want to complain. Like bloggers.

Carol is complaining about a worn-out tranny and poopy tires, and needs help. Let us see how – or if – these shops come to his rescue.

(Reviews are in alphabetical order.)

 

Aamco Total Car Care

7501 Hickman Road, Urbandale

Request submitted: Monday 2:59pm

Response received: NO RESPONSE

Acheson Auto Works

8000 University Blvd, Clive

Request submitted: Monday 2:50pm

Response received: NO RESPONSE

All Pro Servicecenter

1121 Railroad Avenue, West Des Moines

Request submitted: Monday 2:52pm

Response received: NO RESPONSE

Beckley Automotive

901 8th Street, Des Moines

Request submitted: Monday 2:35pm

Response received (email): Tuesday 11:11am

Carol,

I wouldn’t be the one to replace a Saturn transmission.

Thanks for asking

Steve Beckley

Beckley Automotive

Comments: Steve addresses the transmission issue, but not the tires, which he does sell. It’s not a terribly warm and fuzzy response. It feels like the owner really doesn’t want Carol’s business.

Big O Tire

3880 NW Urbandale Drive, Urbandale

Request submitted: Monday 2;55pm

Response received: NO RESPONSE

Cottman Auto Care

6800 Hickman Road, Des Moines

Request submitted: Monday 3;11pm

Response received (phone): Monday 5:16pm

Troy: “Hi, can I speak to Carol?” (Speaking.) “Hey, this is Troy with Cottman Auto Care. How are you doing tonight?” (I’m good!) I understand you’ve got some issues with your transmission on your Saturn. Can you describe what’s going on?” (I made some stuff up.) “Okay, can you get it here?” (Yes.) Alright, well how about Friday morning, Carol? Would that work alright for you?” (Yes.) “A lot of times it’s the solenoid - it’s a very common problem on those Saturns. You have a great night, and we’ll see you on Friday.”

Comments: Troy was fantastic! He  greeted me with a nice salutation, instead of rushing right to the problem. He tried to diagnose the problem, then allayed my fear about a cause. He was extremely helpful and polite, used my name during the conversation and wished me a great night at the end. TOTAL ROCK STAR TREATMENT!

Flatt Tire

724 SE 14th Street, Des Moines

Request submitted: Monday 2:45pm

Response received (email): Monday 4:30pm

Carol,

 

We need to know the specific model of your Saturn and at minumum the engine size in order to give you an accurate quote.  To insure total accuracy the VIN# would make things even easier.  This will also help with finding which tire size you have on your vehicle.  Thank you.  We look forward to giving you an answer when we get this information.

 

 

Flatt Tire Center

“You too should ride on a Flatt”

724 SE 14th Street

Des Moines, IA

50317

515.237.8473

info@flattdm.com

 

—–Original Message—–

From: NoReplyEndeavorContact@endeavorsuite.biz

Date: 12/27/2010 03:45 PM

To: info@flattdm.com

Subject: Contact Request

 

A new contact request was placed from your website (http://www.flattdm.com/) on 12/27/2010 at 2:45PM.

 

Name: Carol Hartog

City: Des Moines

State/Region: Iowa

Country: United States

Postal Code: 50265

Email: hartogcarol@yahoo.com

Message: I’ve got a 2001 Saturn that’s having major transmission problems, and need a quote on a replacement tranny. Also needs 4 new tires. Please include those in a quote. Thank you.

Comments: It starts out with the customer’s name – great job. There’s no greeting/salutation – the writer jumps right into the nuts and bolts. The email writer could have presented this as a question: “Can you email me the VIN #?” That feels a little nicer. The body of the email has a few spelling issues. The “thank you” is more effective if it’s in its own paragraph. There is no specific name in the signature, just the corporate info, which means there is no identifiable person taking ownership of Carol’s problem. There is also the “original message” and “NoReplyEndeavorContact” (which seems strange) and all the other stuff after the response, which again plays into the robotic feel.

Graham Tire

3935 Merle Hay Road, Des Moines

Request submitted: Monday 3:14pm

Response received (email): Tuesday morning 9:36am

Carol,

we will need more info to give an accurate quote on the Saturn, would be best if we have car here to get information for you.

we can get close with some info if you like-

need year, make, and model of saturn (LS LW SI SC)?

vin #

engine size

build date

type of transmission automatic/manual with or without overdrive

If I know the model should be able to narrow down the options for the tires, transmission is at best a guess without the car being here.

Free free to give me a call ,glad to help out

Jeff Chapman

251-7195

gtdm@transedge.com

Comments: It took a little too long to get the email, but it was pleasant enough. Jeff asked for a lot of information, when he might have been better served to simply encourage me to contact him to discuss it further. The email has some capitalization issues, but is polite, and especially kind at the end. Jeff should have identified that he is with Graham Tire, in the email signature.

 

Premier Automotive

6815 Hickman Road, Urbandale

Request submitted: Monday 3:06pm

Response received (phone): Monday 5:08pm

Tim: “Can I talk to Carol?” (this is he) “This is Tim with Premiere Automotive. I was wondering if we can get you scheduled for this Friday morning.” (Yes.) “Okay – we’ll take a look at that tranny and give you a quote on tires. Thank you sir. We’ll see you then.”

Comments: Tim got back to me in just a few hours – great job! He was very pleasant and business-like on the phone. He got me scheduled and didn’t try to do anything else, which was okay. He probably should have asked me about the specific problem with the transmission, and he definitely should have used my name (which he had) instead of “sir.”

Silzer Automotive

3025 Douglas Avenue, Des Moines

Request submitted: Monday 3:08pm

Response received (phone): Tuesday 8:47am

Todd: “Is this Carol?” (Yes.) “This is Todd at Silzer Automotive. Do you know what model it is?” (No.) “Do you know what size tire it takes?” (No.) “There are two sizes – a 195 and a 205. Call me and let me know what size it is.” (Okie dokey.) “Thanks a lot.”

Comments: Todd got back to me later than an auto repair shop owner would like to see. He was nice on the phone, asked me reasonable questions about the tire size and thanked me. Unfortunately he didn’t ask about the transmission issues. Fair or not, as a potential customer, I’m thinking that if he didn’t see that, what else might he miss?

Toyota of Des Moines

4475 Merle Hay Road, Des Moines

Request submitted: Monday 2:43pm

Response received (automated email): Monday 2:43pm

Thank you for scheduling your service needs with us. The details of your Requested Service Appointment are below. Someone from our service team will contact you should there be any scheduling conflicts. If you have any questions or need to reschedule your appointment, please contact your service advisor. Thank you and we greatly appreciate your business.

Toyota of Des Moines

Service Scheduler Appointment Confirmation

Advisor Information:

Phil Gronewold

Email: service@toyotadm.com

Phone: 800-779-6578

Location: Toyota of Des Moines

4475 Merle Hay Road

Des Moines, IA 50310

Your Information:

Carol Hartog

Email: hartogcarol@yahoo.com

Phone: 515-480-4190

Vehicle Information:

2001 Saturn VUE

Other Information:

Advisor: Phil Gronewold

Make: Saturn

Model: VUE

Mileage: 67,000

ServiceDatePadding: 5

Best Date: 01/01/2011

Best Time: 8:00 am

WaitOrDropOff: DropOff

Rental: No

Service Items:

Additional Services: I’ve got a 2001 Saturn that’s having major transmission problems, and need a quote on a replacement tranny. Also needs 4 new treads – please include those in a quote. Thank you. Carol Hartog

Response received (phone): Monday 4:19pm

Brianna: “Hello. Can I speak to Carol?” (This is he.) “Carol, this is Brianna from Toyota of Des Moines. You sent a request for service for your Saturn? (Yes.) We only have one service advisor who works on them and he’s here on Wednesdays. I can put your request on his desk if you’d like and have him call you.” (Okay.) “The Guys said that you may want to try Bob Brown, since they’ll probably be cheaper.” (Okay.) “Thank you.”

Comments: The automated response was fine. It could have been made more personal with a separation of the “thank you” at the beginning and end. Brianna was pleasant on the phone, and used my name. She mentioned that they only have one guy who works on Saturns, and that he’s only in on one day, which made me feel like they didn’t really want my Saturn business. Unfortunately, that feeling was solidified at the end when Brianna directed me (according to “the guys”)  to one of TDM’s competitors, and then sort of threw her own company under the bus with the statement that Bob Brown would be cheaper, thus implying that TDM is expensive. Strangely, she said this after I’d agreed to be contacted by their Saturn guy in the service department.

Tuffy

16000 Hickman Drive, Clive

Request submitted: Monday 3:28pm

Response received (email): Tuesday morning 8:14am

before i can give you a quote on a transmission i need to know what kind of transmission it is, i also need the tire size so i can give you the correct price   thanks Ron

Comments: There is  no greeting, no using of my name, no personalization, no capitalization, no punctuation and no signature. There is no attempt to reach out and massage the customer – it’s purely a request for facts, written by a very busy man. It also came from a Hotmail account, which gives it an amateurish feel.

Tuffy

2135 West Grand, West Des Moines

Request submitted: Monday 3:29pm

Response received (email): Monday 5:33pm

Carol,  I will be glad to help you, but I need to know what model of Saturn and engine size. Also is it an automative or manual trans? If you have athe Vehicle Identification # and Tire size would be helpful, but no nessacary. Thank you, Vic.

Comments: It’s a prompt response, and starts out by using my name – awesome! Vic also uses the problem-solving power phrase: “I will be glad to help you.” He is kind as he asks for more information, and thanks me at the end. The email needs spell-checked before it’s sent, for spelling, punctuation and capitalization.  There is also no email signature, and the email came from a Hotmail account, which feels strange for a large company.

Westside Auto Pros

1901 NW 92nd Court, Clive

Request submitted: Monday 3:33pm

Response received (phone): Monday 3:36pm

Tina: “Hi, this is Tina from Westside Auto Pros – is this Carol?” (Yes.) “Hi, Carol! How are you?” (Fine.) “We can certainly help you with your transmission issues. What is the car doing?” (The problem is described.) Well that’s not good – let’s get you in here and take care of it. We can also get you some new tires. We’ll price some out for you when you bring it in. Have you been in to Westside Auto Pros before, Carol?” (No.) “Awesome! How did you hear about us?” (Just browsing on the internet) “Well thank you for choosing us! I’ve got an opening on Thursday or Friday morning – which works best?” (Friday.) “That’s perfect! We look forward to seeing you Friday at 9am, Carol! Have a great day!”

Comments: Since Tina would know my voice in a schnap, I used one of my Secret Shoppers. Tina called that person’s cell number, and I listened in, and took notes. Tina was fantastic! The response time was the fastest of all the repair shops - three minutes. That’s what I’m talking about. Tina was energetic, warm, personable and empathetic on the phone. She asked the right questions, gave options, used Carol’s name, thanked her and wished her a great day. Tina could have asked for the tire size, and should have mentioned the free shuttle service and pick up and delivery options, just from a branding standpoint. Otherwise, Tina was top-notch. They must have an outstanding customer service trainer…

Tomorrow: Part 2, including Karl Chevrolet, Charles Gabus Ford, Dewey Ford, Firestone, Stew Hansen Dodge, Midas, Des Moines Imports, Bob Brown Chevrolet, Tires Plus, Stivers Ford Lincoln and Hummels Nissan. 

 

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.       

    

Ways to contact Jonnie:

    

Click to be taken to Jonnie’s Facebook page    

Click to be taken to Jonnie’s Twitter page    

Click to be taken to Jonnie’s blog    

Click to email Jonnie (jonnie@theunsecretshopper.com)    

Phone: 515-480-4190

The Unsecret Shopper Goes Shopping In 2011

 

Hello shoppers…

 

2010 was a busy (secret) shopping year for your truly.

I secret shopped nearly 200 Des Moines area stores and other public entities, including 44 stores at Jordan Creek Mall, 39 convenience stores, 15 auto repair shops, 13 big box retail stores, 13 drug stores, 10 health clubs, 10 real estate agents, 10 high schools, 9 movie theaters, 6 cell phone stores, 5 banks, 4 grocery stores, 4 mall Santa’s, 2 car dealerships, 2 government agencies, 2 restaurants, a University, a furniture store, a race track, a State Fair and a TV station.

Here’s what I discovered:

1. Most employees say hi.

2. Most employees don’t ask open-ended questions.

3. Most employees have great eye contact.

4. Most employees don’t engage in chit-chat.

5. Most employees are very helpful.

6. Most employees don’t introduce themselves by name, or attempt to get ours (shoppers).

7. Most employees say thank you.

8. Most employees don’t smile (until the end).  

9. Most employees are friendly, but have room for improvement.

10. Most customers could stand to be friendlier, but that’s probably not going to change.

What will I discover next year?

Here’s where I’ll be doing the discovering – the businesses and categories I’ll be secret shopping in 2o11:

Doctors

City services, including law enforcement

Attorneys

Churches

Airports

Apartment complexes

More restaurants

More big box stores

More cell phone stores

More auto repair shops

More real estate agents

More grocery stores

More banks

Your suggestions

You can email your suggestions to me at jonnie@theunsecretshopper.com

There will also be more human interest stories that will have nothing to do with shopping. After all, there’s more to life than shopping – said the man who does it for a living, hosts a radio show about it, writes a blog about it and did it 200 times in 2010. 

I didn’t say there was a lot more to life than shopping.

Here’s to a lot more smiles in 2011 – from employees, shoppers and you. :)

 

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.       

    

Ways to contact Jonnie:

    

Click to be taken to Jonnie’s Facebook page    

Click to be taken to Jonnie’s Twitter page    

Click to be taken to Jonnie’s blog    

Click to email Jonnie (jonnie@theunsecretshopper.com)    

Phone: 515-480-4190