Hello shoppers... 

After a glorious sun-kissed three days in which we honored the living and the fallen who defend our nation's freedom, welcome back one and all to Monday, kindly positioned by God this post-holiday week to fall on Tuesday. 

Today's post is the first that will offer the complete Podcast of the previous Saturday's Unsecret Shopper Radio Show, which I host on Saturday mornings, 8-9am on 1350 KRNT.

In this case it's the show from Saturday May 29th, which features my overview of the Secret Shopper review of Des Moines Movie Theaters, my conversation with Greg Mahon, family consultant for The Varsity Theaters, one of Iowa's oldest movies houses, plus a break-down of some of the questions and answers from The Customer Service Quiz II.

Give the show a listen. I think you'll enjoy it, or at least find it interesting or, if it fails that, something for background noise while you cruise the social networking highway.

Today's post also highlights a small but passionate handful of reader comments on previous Unsecret Shopper musings, mostly from parties directly involved and affected by Secret Shopper reviews. 

Some of the feedback you'll read today is reflective of that from other employees, whose actions have been brought to light in previous Secret Shopper reviews. 

I feel a tremendous empathy for employees whose customer service interactions - which they believe are between them and me - are instead being clandestinely put under a microscope, evaluated, judged and graded, for all the blog reader world and radio audience to see and hear. 

I have a greater empathy for business owners, managers and staffs, whose livelihoods depend on an inter-connected chain of employees and whose ability to deliver the four pillars of customer service - smile, greet, engage and thank - will determine that company's profitability, and ability to continue to deliver a paycheck. 

I save my greatest empathy for you and me, the shoppers - who, as Cindi Lauper sang, just want to have fun. Yet our joy of shopping over the years has taken a beating, pummeled by the unsmiling faces disinterested actions of ambivalent, unengaging and yes, even rude retail staff. 

No more. Those days are over. 

And so as you read these responses, and previous reaction to past reviews from employees, ask yourself this; how would you react, if someone were evaluating your customer service performance? How would you handle it? Would you be defensive? Would you make excuses? Would you blame the shopper?  

Or, would you be humble, apologize and accept responsibility? Would you allow yourself the gift of being vulnerable, of admitting that you are flawed, as we all are, that as hard as you try to be right, you can be wrong? Would you grasp it as a teachable moment, an opportunity to be better at what you do and how you do it? Would you see the constructive criticism offered as a gift, to be unwrapped and used, for your own betterment?  

Criticism hurts. It can never hurt us personally if offered by someone who doesn't know us that way but...that does not mean that it does not hurt. Believe me, I feel this. Writing these evaluations, regardless of their intent, hurts my heart. I am a human being, evaluating fellow human beings, my brothers and sisters on this Earth. 

Yet in the end, the goal seems worthy of a little pain - for the promise of a greater good, for us all. 

After all, isn't that what the brave men and women in our United States Armed Forces have fought and died for, and continue to fight and die for, today, and for the past 234 years - to maintain the greater good for us all? 

We just honored them. Let us continue to do so, in a small but powerful way - by serving happy, shopping happy and simply being happy.  



(On The Unsecret Shopper Goes Shopping: Des Moines Movie Theaters) 


“I read your blog entry and I appreciate the comments and observations made about our staff and facility. They were very helpful and will be pointed out to the entirety of my staff. Thank you.” 

-Jon Petersen
General Manager
Fleur Cinema & Café
4545 Fleur Drive
Des Moines, IA 50321 

‘Thank you for doing a great service for the businesses in the city of Des Moines. All of us can learn a lot from your blog and your show. Keep up the great work.” 

-Greg Mahon 

Family Consultant 

Varsity Theater 

Des Moines 

(from an interview on The Unsecret Shopper Radio Show, on 1350 KRNT) 


“The following comment has been received by Carmike Cinemas. Please allow 3-5 business days for us to respond accordingly.” 

-Carmike Cinemas Automated Response, from their web site 


“After reading your fascinating review of Des Moines movie theaters, I had it in the back of my mind as I took my family to Cobblestone last night. Sure enough, it was exactly as you said. We never got more than a “hello” from the ticket lady and a “would you like to try…” etc from the kid at the snack bar. With the high price of tickets and snacks, you’d think the staff could manage something better than that.” 



“I don’t go to a movie for the customer service, I go for the movie. Who cares how employees treat you?” 





(On Monday Morning Reaction: Bass Pro Shops, Target, Verizon Wireless, Ing and Un, 8 Answers To 10 Unsecret Shopper Questions And The Smile Project) 


"$50 dollars" Redundant? Or just lots of dollars to spend today? :)” 







(On The Unsecret Shopper Goes Shopping: Target) 


“I honestly love this article. The man is not only witty, but is extremely honest to at least himself. He criticizes based on his first perception, without any real follow through. It's good and please, do not mark me as a "troll" just yet. I like to shop at target, as much as any other place. Music can be an important thing, not only to the shopper but to the worker as well. Now having said worker drone around the store like a robot hunting down people seems a bit obscene. With the whole radio ordeal, again I agree, it seems loud and disruptive. What really makes me chuckle is the location you decided to go to. Out of all the targets you could have chosen, I would say you picked the rotten apple. Oh was that witty? Anyways, people are just people, some may act more human then others. In my opinion I hope retail is taken over by robots, so some of the few decent humans can be spared from the barrage of criticism and humiliation that working retail brings. Now for my constructive criticism for you, good sir, get a real job.” 



“Please come shop at the 35th Street Target where I work. I smile all the time! :)” 





(On The Unsecret Shopper Goes Shopping: Jordan Creek Mall) 


“I find your comments about my store Jos. A. Bank intersting. First of all I noticed you come into the store right away and I noticed you walked very quickly behind some of our on floor shelving. When you did come out from behind them I made eye contact with you right away and said hi. Perhaps you did not hear me? That was with in 10 seconds of your comming into the open. I could not leave my customer because I was trying to solve a customer service problem. I also dont believe in having to babysit customers. My customers are adults who dont need that. I would normally greet you by asking "how are you today" and are you finding something you like, or have you shopped at Jos. A. Bank before? From there, depending on your responce, we would have a coversation as apposed to my instantly trying to sell you something you dont need, or are not interested in. Part of my job is to discover your needs and wants. That cant be done with out a two way conversation. I also like to provide my customers with information on the Jos. A. Bank company. Since you were new to the store and I realized you were shopping my store, I did not want to interupt that experence since we have lots of very interesting merchandice. I did not want to deprive you of that experience. Our store is a destination store. So most people who come into it are looking for something. Part of my job is to discover what that is. It cannot be done in a formulated way that so may company people and secret shoppers think it should be. Every customer is different and requires a different approach. Just the fact that I new you were shopping me should tell you that your abillity to deceive me did not work. I have been in this business for a long time and I know the lookers, and the fakers, from the real customers. I also felt we had an interesting and complimentry conversation after you told me what you were realy about. I would also mention that when shopping different stores know your product and how that stores product compaires to its competition intown or in the the rest of the country, both in price and quality. One last comment: It is not my job to sell you merchandise the first time you come into my store. It is my job to make you feel comfortable and not hassled while you are in my store. so the hope is, if you dont buy something the first time, you will come back and shop my store in the future.

PS. thanks for comming in and secret shopping my store and I hope you will come back for real and give us a chance to see and feel just how great our merchandice really is.

PPS thanks for posting these comments its nice to know you are as fair with the people who you secret shop and the comment you make about them as your are in letting them provide a fair response.

 …Just a note of correction on my part. you are correct in your evaluation of my introduction. It should always be an openended greeting/question. After thinking about this I have to report that normally I do great and ask with " welcome to Jos. A. Bank How can I be of service? an openended question. And one I use for new customers most of the time, but not for repeat customers that I know. One last correction You mentioned our pants and a price of $400.00. Our pants price from $59.50 to $19500 and range in fabrication from cotton, silk, microfiber, linnen, wool,and wool/cashmere blend. the prices reflect full price but they are usually on sale.”-P




General Comments 


"U crack me up." 



“You’re an idiot.” 



“Get a real job, dude.” 





Podcast of The Unsecret Shopper Radio Show, Saturday May 29th, 2010, 8-9am on 1350 KRNT 

Unsecret Shopper Radio Show May 29 2010

Open The Buyosphere Toolbox to get FREE exclusive access to proven tools that will help you generate higher shop sales and profits - delivered weekly, right to your inbox!