Hello shoppers... 

How about that weekend, huh? Warm temps, plenty of sunshine, nice weather - now we can stop whining about all the rain...and start whining about all the days of this work week.

Welcome to Monday! 



...and our weekly look back at reader reaction to last week's Unsecret Shopper blog posts.  

The bulk of responses come from the Secret Shopper review of Verizon Wireless, on Thursday - along with a scattershot of additional commentary on other posts, and stuff in general. Enjoy those you agree with and dismiss the rest. 

You'll also find the full audio interviews from Saturday's "The Unsecret Shopper Radio Show," with Karen Smith, Spokesperson with Verizon Wireless, Great Plains Region, and Bruce Anderson, General Counsel, IADA. 

If you read Friday's post - and this is a very big "if" - you know there was also a gallant - if doomed - attempt at no Facebook, Twitter, text or phone transmissions starting Saturday morning (Read Friday's blog post, Turning Off Our Transmitters This Weekend by clicking here) by the one whose digits clumsily hammer out these words - chubby, stubby little Pillsbury Dough Boy things, once described by an old piano teacher as "toes, posing as fingers." 

I engaged full transmission silence at 9:01am. God was laughing at the ridiculousness of the absolute by 9:22, as I caught myself texting a friend about an upcoming matinée time for Robin Hood. (Good first hour from the re-teaming of Russell Crowe and Ridley Scott, too looooong on the final 90 minutes - it ain't Gladiator II.) 

Transmission cold turkey for a paltry 21 minutes? Eeghads - Houdini could hold his breath longer.  

Time to call 1-800-BLACKBERRY-OFF. 

Yet one observation to share with you, from a few moments this weekend spent shutting up, and just taking things in. 



Saturday afternoon - sitting in the grass, Blackberry off and out of sight, face turned up into a warm, sweet sun, eyes wide shut, listening to a friend hit golf balls to varying degrees of his satisfaction, at Cold Water Driving Range in Ames. (I'm on the DL with a bum right shoulder.) 

The ears picked up the closest sounds first - the "whooo" of clubs swung by patrons, striking balls they'd teed up or gently laid in the grass, followed by frequent "thuds," some off-center "schwacks" and that occasional crisp, clean, singular "crack!" you knew meant someone had perfectly connected the club head's sweet spot with the ball, sending its dimpled roundness spinning and flying, up and out past the 250 sign.  

The ears listened harder, beyond those sounds so immediate - to find some singing of song birds in the distant trees whose branches were being rustled by gentle breezes - and in a nearby pond, old croaking bullfrogs were filling their fat green cheeks with air, then releasing it, filling up, and again, releasing. 

You could hear the TV on, inside the clubhouse behind and to the left, on a station with chattering commentators uttering faintly distinguishable descriptions and analysis of the sporting event playing out in front of them.  

Just beyond it, the rorrr rorrr of rubber rolling against the road could be heard, from spinning wheels of vehicles driving past, on the street bordering the range.  

Two miles south, a bit more distant but still discernible to the ear were the thundering sounds of motorcycle engines signaling Summer's approach, and air horns announcing semis' long journey ahead, passing east and west along Highway 30.  

These were the ordinary activities of man and nature on a late Saturday afternoon, creating notes from the close by and nearby and not far and distant, to produce an extraordinary richness and texture of sound whose symphonic sweetness wrapped around your mind and wafted you aloft to a room with a view, offering endless blue sky and infinite peace - if one were to simply keep their eyes shut, and listen. And listen. And listen... 



I'd still be there. I think part of me still is.  

Seven hours later, I was standing in line at Ankeny's west side Casey's, where Mary, working the checkout counter, talked on the phone while ringing up patrons. 

"Can you come in at seven instead of eight tomorrow? It's really busy - it's been really busy tonight. People just keep coming through. I can't believe how busy we..."  

I reached for my Blackberry - what goes up, must come down. 


(From The Unsecret Shopper Goes Shopping: Verizon Wireless) 


(On the quality of greeting given at Verizon Corporate stores) 

“I’ve read your blog post – and first I want to say that there is no substitute for a personal greeting, so when a customer walks in the door, they should be welcome to Verizon Wireless, asked how we can assist them, why they’re at the store and what we can do to help them”. 

(On the automated customer registration kiosks, located at Verizon Corporate Stores) 

“I know that you were not a fan of it in your experience but one of the things about the automated check-in in our stores is that sometimes our stores can be busy and customers can be uncomfortable browsing the store, if they feel like someone that walked in after them, might get served ahead of them.  It’s one way they know that they’ve checked in, they can see where they are and they’re going to be helped in the order they entered the store.” 

(On the particular issue, cell phone tethering - being able to connect a PC to the internet using a cell phone – submitted to all six stores that were secret shopped) 

“Our representatives really should be troubleshooting that issue with the customer. There’s some of the stuff you identified – they could pull out the battery, they could check the software, they could ask about error messages…if they would need to contact tech support, we would ask that our representative call tech support with the customer there and stay with them through that process with tech support, to make sure the issue is resolved.” 

-Karen Smith, Spokesperson for Verizon Wireless, Great Plains Region, responding to questions during “The Unsecret Shopper Radio Show.” [audio /wp-content/uploads/2010/05/interview-karen.mp3] (Audio of the full interview) 


“Your article presents some good training opportunities that I will share with my team.  We don’t take customer service issues lightly.  We strive to provide great customer service and try to assist customers with all their concerns.” 

Best regards, 

-Jerry J. Marckres 

Spring Valley Wireless 

101 Jordan Creek Parkway Suite 12000 

West Des Moines, IA  50266 


“My name is Joseph Bedwell, apologize about your experience at the Valley West store was so poor.  I was approached with a question about tethering, but we are premium sales agents and not required to be technically fit for we are not technical support.  I go to school for Information Technology which I graduate in less than a month and all I do is work with computers, I directed you to the right individuals that actually are trained in this area and you can have your hardware (cell phone) and also your pc (personal computer) available.  I have many emails of customers who will express their gratitude to my 5/5 customer service experience and if you have any further issues you have my email address and can contact me directly but I am not a show or an amusement for someone’s personal means of entertainment.  Thank you for your time and inconvenience.” 

 -Joseph N. Bedwell
Spring Valley Wireless
101 Jordan Creek Parkway Suite 12000
West Des Moines, Iowa 50266

"Jonnie. You are good. LOL."

-James Rinkert (Spring Valley Verizon Wireless, Kaleidoscope, Downtown Des Moines)

“Good afternoon. Thank you for taking the time to contact us. My name is Michelle and I will be happy to inform you that I have also forwarded your secret shopping feedback that was processed at our store locations.  

Mr. Wright, Verizon Wireless is always looking for ways to enhance our products and services to better meet the needs of our customers. Your comments have been forwarded to our Marketing department for review and consideration of possibly setting up an Interview. Your feedback provides us with the perfect opportunity to hear exactly what you think, and often leads to improvements you will see in the future. If additional information is needed, a member of our Marketing department will be in contact with you.  

Please keep in mind, if you need account specific information, please send a new email and include the correct account password as the account password in your email was not verified. You can send a new e-mail by clicking this direct link to the "Contact Us" page: www.verizonwireless.com/contactus  

Please note: The account password referred to on the website "Contact Us" page is not the same as the password you created for your online "My Account" service.  

It has been my pleasure in reviewing your account regarding your feedback concerns. Thank you for being the most important part of Verizon Wireless. We appreciate you using Verizon Wireless products and services.”  



Customer Service  

Verizon Wireless  


“Jonnie...I think that your blog was in depth and very informative.  Your best secret shopper by far....and I thought Sprint was bad.  Other than the wait time I've had pretty good customer service experiences at the Sprint Store on University.” 



“Okay before anyone starts bashing Jonnie. (oh I do enjoy that) For once I would like to have you all admit you were wrong and tell him what changes you will do to bring him back to the store. We are the customer and if you’re not going to help us we will find someone or something to do that. (Here's a little hint Happy Customers Equals $$$$) It's easy to get defensive and blame the sky. Own up and learn from this. Stop teaching stupid and move on with grace. Learn, Learn and Learn.” 



“Thanks for the Verizon post, it was very timely for me. I'm curious; were you serious about the drunk Sprint manager or was that a joke?” 



“As I read [your blog] I found a few small typos and lack of links that I thought you might want brought to your attention. I highlighted the little issues in pink for you.” 


"Thank you for your continued loyalty to Verizon Wireless, the nation's most reliable wireless network.”

-Verizon Wireless (opening sentence on a bill)

“As a human being should cost a vehicle that has given hundreds of dollars and insurance. There are several companies offering different levels of satisfaction for customers. Some of the best auto insurance companies give guarantees for both operations and the devastating loss of a small vehicle.” 





(On What’s In A Name? Everything) 


“I can’t remember the last time anyone called me by name in a store. Do they even do that any more?” 



Aren’t you asking a bit much? Most employees don’t smile or say anything, other than the price and a grunt. That’s not going to change.” 



“That’s why I love living in a small town. Wherever I go – grocery store, convenience store, Post Office, doesn’t matter, they always know my name.” 



“I think it’s weird when a cashier uses my name that he just got off of my credit card. It feels intrusive and creepy – I’d rather they just say hi and thank you and leave it at that.” 



“Our employees are trained to introduce themselves to every customer who comes through our door, and then to ask for that customer’s name. If they don’t, they haven’t done their job and they’re going to hear about it.” 




(On Turning Off Our Transmitters This Weekend) 


"If you aren't going to transmit tomorrow, I hope you talk *really loud* as you're doing your radio show.  : )"


“Can you stop transmitting before your show? Thanks!” 



“Humans survived because they had to be good listeners. But all we do now is talk – nobody’s listening to anyone. And that will be our demise.” 




(On Answers To The Customer Service Pop Quiz) 


“Great advice!!!! ... and smile, smile, smile!!!!!” 




 General Comments 

"I love reading your blog. Having worked at the manager level in the food service industry, I highly regard the value of the customer and obsessively believe in the power of customer service. Plus, it's just good entertainment reading how people react when (even unknowingly) they are put on the spot. You are very fair in your judgements, and I virtually agree with all of your techniques (April Fools Day aside). You are performing a good service to this area. Thank you thank you thank you!"



“Hey, you have a great blog here! I’m definitely going to bookmark you! Thank you for your info.”


“If you are interested in a strategic alliance we should meet up- we believe in the same business principles.” 



“I hope you come to our store. We’ve shown your picture to every employee and they all know what you look like, so you won’t be able to pull the [stuff] you’ve pulled on other places.” 



"Jonnie-You grew up in or by Cambridge.  That automatically gives you the I hate cat syndrome.”   




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


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