...and welcome to the day placed, unfortunately for it, right after the two days we'd prefer never end. (Monday's fantasy: to be the day after Thursday.)
Before we get to reader reaction to a wide variety of Unsecret Shopper posts - some gushy, some poopy - let's get to a story about new trends in U.S. consumer reaction to a variety of economic forces - which are pretty much all poopy.
The interesting (alarming) piece, which appeared on the front page and above the fold of last Monday's Des Moines Register, talks about the fascinating (alarming II) trend towards us shoppers shopping less (alarming XXXVVVIII), and spending less time shopping, when we do.
They're calling it surgical shopping. Store owners are calling it ARRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGHHHHHHHH! Pick your term - both are less than stellar news for retail employees, whose continued paychecks and dependable livelihoods, depend on us spending more time shopping in the stores they work for, more often.
As I've been rather pointedly pointing out to customer service trainees, this makes The Six Pillars of Great Customer Service, even more important.
Slooooowwwwwing down shoppers who are heck-bent on getting what they want and heading for the exits - with an employee smile ( :) ) a greeting ("Hi! How are you?") an open-ended question ("What can I get for you?") an extra open-ended question ("What else can I get for you?") engagement/personal chit-chat ("Looks like we're in for some snow. How 'bout them Cyclones/Hawkeyes? What cha doin for Thanksgiving? Have ya read that dumb blog by what's his name?") a thank you ("Thank you so much for shopping with us!") and some extra polish at the end ("Have a great day! Come back and see us!") - and they'll spend more time, and money, in the store.
By not extending these basic courtesies to shoppers, employees (as I "animatedly" express to them, till my ears turn purple) are making it waaaay too easy for shoppers to spend less, or go without entirely - and that directly threatens those employees' jobs.
I hope they're listening.
On The Unsecret Shopper Goes Shopping: Department of Human Services:
Pretending to be someone who lost their job, just so you can write a story? It's a slap in the face to all of us who are really unemployed. Shame on you."
"Wao, this brought back some sad memories that included getting assistance. About 3 years back I was pregnant and my husband and I had recently separated. It was tough and had to go thru DHS. I hated going to the Euclid office. I was already depressed and having another human being with some authority (the clerk that has what you need) treat you like you are unimportant and worthless, simply made things a little harder.
I wasn’t looked at in the eye, would not be responded to in full sentences and everything you described with Bridgette. Maybe its the same gal I had to talk to back then. I wasn’t worthy enough for her to look up at me? It doesn’t matter today but back then it simply made the process a little more painful and made me feel even worst than my situation was already making me feel. I hope this report is read my DHS and Bridget too."
"Why in the world would you 'secret shop' a place that doesn't sell merchandise? Why would you waste the time of good hard-working people to prove a point? These are government employees who were on the clock while they helped you, and since WE pay their salaries, it means that you're basically stealing money from taxpayers. That means you're breaking the law. You should be arrested."
"There's still work to do but at least morale at DHS has gotten better since I was there. It's great to see some well-deserving people, get acknowledged."
"Let's just say they sit behind a glass window and are unfriendly."
"I'd hate to have to deal with Bridgette, especially if I needed help. Jonnie, you've motivated me to work harder at my own job so I don't lose it! :)"
"Bridgette is a stupid, rude (expletive deleted). I've had run-ins with her. If she was in a non-government job, they would have fired her (expletive deleted) years ago."
"Great job Jonnie. You worked hard on this project and I appreciate your awareness. When people are down and out, we all need people who care. I hope DHS works on it customer service and hires more people like Rhonda!"
On The Unsecret Shopper Goes Shopping - And Finds A (Miraculous) Smile:
"Great post, Jonnie! And what a beautiful smile!"
"I read your incredible story about Virginia and it made me want to go to her Git 'N Go, which is 10 miles out of my way. I went anyway. Sure enough, she was exactly as you described her. Thank you so much for sharing her story. Awesome job!"
"I've been a customer of Virginia's for many years and was thrilled to see her get the recognition she deserves."
On Here's An Idea: Don't Vote On Tuesday:
"Thanks Johnnie! I feel much better now about skipping the polls this time around, while having to lie to all the customers who kept asking me all day “Did you vote yet?” Didn’t have the guts to tell the truth, so just said I was going after work. However, isn’t one of my freedoms as American to exercise free will and decide for myself whether or not I would like to exercise my right to vote? I do appreciate that we are allowed to vote in this country, and I do vote more often than not. So who is to tell me that I’m not allowed to sit one out if I should choose to do so? Whew – feel better now that I got that off my chest!!!"
'I voted for one liar, and the other liar won. Maybe you're on to something."
"Who wants to vote for adults who act like children? I'm sitting this one out."
"Oh Jon, there is a ray of hope out there. Some Democrat checkbooks got thrown in the trash today. The shout out by the workin' folks was heard, thank goodness."
On The Unsecret Shopper Goes Shopping: Walgreens:
"I've got a bad feeling about this. We'll see..." (after reading it)"Yep, [my feeling was confirmed.] I believe you have a job for LIFE."
"First of all I am not a young man. I am a middle-aged woman with a husband who just come through a quadruple bypass, only to find out he now has a brain tumor. I also have a daughter who is a senior in high school. I have an 83 yer old mother who is loosing her mind and brother who is a quadriplegic and needs help with everything. I work two jobs for a basically minimum wage. Yet still show up for work each day, pulling off a smile even though I really don't feel like it, and trying to help as many people as I can. Who are you to judge me on sincerity? What do you want me to do? Bow to you? Kiss your feet? Follow you around and beg you to let me help you? From what I can see maybe you have too much free time, and you should think about helping someone else once in a while instead of criticizing everyone all the time. You just might find that it makes your little corner of this world a better place. By the way, I really don’t have time to be sitting here writing this letter to you. although, it made me mad when I read the comments you made about me for basically doing my job."
"I love the Walgreens in Johnston! Everyone in the store knows me by name, and they're always very friendly."
"I'm a Walgreens junkie. I shop there at least 3-4 times a week, sometimes more. I love the way the store is laid out. And their prices seem fairly competitive with Walmart and Hy-Vee. The people are usually good to me, although they can sometimes be rude, especially the younger employees."
"Walgreens customer service is as bad as Walmart, but their stuff's twice as expensive. I'll take Walmart."
"I feel like I need to start paying better attention to the way employees treat me when I go into the store. I guess I've just been taking it for granted that employees don't smile at me, or they ignore me. Does this go on everywhere?"
On The Last Word On Walmart's Customer Service - From Joe Becker, Store Manager:
“Wal-Mart” combined with “customer service” is an oxymoron. Unfortunately, I see examples of the same type of lack of focus and interest in customer relations that I experienced at Walmart in most stores where there are: A. Teen-age employees. B. Immigrants whose cultural differences may be an influence.
On The Unsecret Shopper Goes Shopping: Jordan Creek Mall:
"As an assistant manager for one of the stores you reviewed (in a different mall), I have to totally agree with your annoyance at not being treated with the attention and importance you, as a customer deserved. We are trained to greet our customers within a few seconds of them entering the store, and asking open-ended questions to better serve their needs is mandatory as well. I can’t tell you how many times I go into a shop and get ignored completely. It’s frustrating and insulting. Your post did give me food for thought about not having any unnecessary talk on the floor. That was too close to home even though we never get to the point your stores did, it still makes you think. I was happy our store was one of the good ones!"
"FYI...new Japanese place near Jordan Creek, Samari something, customer service was horrible! Hibatchi chef was great, food was very good, service blew! Just throwing that out there."
"I just quit my job at McDonalds. Will you secret shop it?"
Jonnie Wright is a customer service evaluator and trainer, professional secret shopper, marketing strategist and host of The Unsecret Shopper Radio Show, Saturday mornings 8-9am, on 1350, KRNT.
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