Hello shoppers...

We'll get to The Customer Service Quiz II in a jiffy.

First, major kudos to the first winner in the Smile Project, which was launched in Monday's post.

Every time an employee smiles at me - be they checkout clerk, salesperson, government agency employee, bill-paying kiosk attendant or the like, I'll pay them $25 in cash, on the spot. Ask for my name and use it, or say it off my debit card, and they also get $25.

The purpose of this is simple - reward employees for two rarities for shoppers in local retail, getting a smile and hearing our name, at least according to the latest results from The Des Moines Customer Service Survey. (I'll give you results this Friday.)

Today's winner is Gentrie, who, yesterday, was the only employee who engaged me with a smile, along my retail travels during the day - 14 opportunities in all.

Here she is, reenacting the moment...



Gentrie asked me not to say where she works - corporate company policy. That's okay - she owns her smile, not "the man."

I look forward to losing more cash, and gaining more great retail experiences this week - I'll keep you posted.


So you think you're pretty smart about this secret shopping stuff? Feel like you've got the whole rules of customer service dealio down pat? Ready to graduate with honors, with your PhD in Customerology?

You are, you do and you already have - as long as you can pass The Customer Service Quiz II.

Long-time (okay, so the blog's only been around for five months) readers of The Unsecret Shopper may remember the first CS Quiz, back in March - click anywhere in this windy sentence to be magically transported to it.

This quiz is similar - a 10 question mix of multiple choice and fill in the blank, with a healthy dose of pop culture references tossed in for fun.

Yet each question also reflects a point of training that I perform with employees. Some of it is based upon widely accepted research, some of it is based on the research of my eyes and ears. All of it, every question, should feel vaguely familiar to you, as a human being who both shops and, in all likelihood, serves the public in some capacity, as an employee. It is from our experiences on both sides of that ledger - and our feelings generated from them - that the science of customer service has been created.

Our understanding of how we want to be treated by people - in retail or otherwise - comes from how they make us feel, which is terribly reasonable. Somebody does something that makes us feel good, bam! That goes into our "I like that!" column and we look for it again, from others. Somebody does something that makes us feel bad, wham! We leave Target and head to Wal-Mart, where their in-store music soothes us.

It's just getting started, folks.

Smart business owners pay attention to what makes us feel good, and try to offer it as part of our retail experience inside their stores - the right-brain feelings turned into unwritten left-brain guidelines. I say unwritten because the vast majority of business owners believe they don't need to write them down, as rules to be followed. "Sure my employees smile at everyone! Everybody smiles, just like everybody poops - don't they?"

It's that assumption that allows you to walk past 20 employees in a big box store and never be acknowledged by any of them - because somebody left it to chance.
"Chances are...that I wear a silly grin" is a great Johnny Mathis song but a lousy customer service policy.

Here in the world of The Buyosphere, there is no "chance," although there's plenty of Johnny Mathis songs, coming out of the PA speakers overhead.

Otherwise, chance is kicked to the curb, replaced by rules and tips and guidelines and regulations and reminders, supported by the beautiful cold war axiom: Trust, but verify.

So trust what you know and let's verify it - with The Customer Service Quiz II.

Email me your answers if you'd like - at jonniewright@thebuyosphere.com. Or just take the quiz in your mind - I'll still know.

I'll post the correct responses on Friday, with explanations for each.

Good luck!

1. There are four basic things that an employee should do when they encounter a patron - we refer to these as The Four Pillars of Customer Service. Name two of them.


2. Name the popular Doors song whose first line embodies elements of the four pillars of customer service - with one particular question that is almost never asked of customers, by employees in a retail setting.


3. Most of us know how to shake someone's hand. Yet there's a more advanced, more powerful, more effective way for an employee to shake a customer's hand, that we train. Describe it.


4. Speaking of the four pillars of customer service - there's a fifth one, often ignored by retailers (to their detriment) but embraced by specific business categories, including the automotive industry. What is it?


5. Which one of these phone calls demonstrates the most effective customer service?

A. "I'm going to put you on hold for a few minutes while I check that information." (music plays)

B. "I'm going to check that information - it'll take me a few minutes and might sound quiet but I'm still right here." (silence)

C. "I'm going to put you on hold for a few minutes while I check that information." (silence)

D. "I'm going to check that information and call you right back - it'll just take a few minutes."


6. Which one of these statements would be considered most appropriate for a cashier to say to a customer?

A. "You're the third customer who has bought these pizza rolls today. I better try them."

B. "Oh you'll love these frozen pizza rolls. My boyfriend and I tried them last night and they were delicious."

C. "Hmmm...pizza rolls. Never seen these. I'll have to try them."

D. "Wow - looks like you're going to have a great dinner tonight, with these pizza rolls."


7. When BP says there are 5,000 gallons a day leaking from the ruptured oil pipeline in the Gulf, but there's actually 247,102, 594, it's a twisted example of this customer service principle:


8. The "Gap" retail philosophy is:

A. Always get customers to try as many of your products as possible

B. Always have more than one sales person assisting a customer

C. Always compliment the customer's choice, even if it's terrible and you know it

D. Always connect one product to another - "link it" - so customers feel compelled to purchase more


9. What percentage of revenue do most businesses lose, on average, due to poor customer service?


10. Which of these actions by an employee will generate the most revenue for a store?

A. Getting the customer's contact information

B. Smiling at the customer

C. Using the customer's name

D. Mentioning sales/discounts going on in the store

E. Giving something away in return for the purchase


11. What is a retail store's biggest competitor?

A. Big box stores

B. Customer ambivalence

C. The Internet

D. A new store that just opened down the street, selling the same thing


12. "Engage a customer like you would engage your _____________"


Hope you had fun. Look for the answers in Friday's post. And keep those smiles and name greetings going - for it is cash that I have, and shopping that I have to do.


Jonnie Wright is a customer service trainer and evaluator, professional secret shopper, marketing strategist and host of "The Unsecret Shopper Radio Show," Saturday mornings 8-9am on 1350 KRNT. Email Jonnie at jonniewright@thebuyosphere.com.


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