Throughout my 4 1/2 years mystery shopping, I have had some funny and strange and wonderful experiences. Today, I would like to share some of them with you. Enjoy!
Most Humbling: I had just visited a famous fast food restaurant drive-thru and I had a bag of food on the seat. I was driving down the road when I came upon a young, pretty clean-cut guy, about 21 years old, standing on the corner and holding a sign, “Hungry. I am embarrassed.” I stopped, waved him over and I gave him my entire lunch and then I said, “Wait!” as I handed him my beverage too.
In that split second when you try to decipher whether this person is truly in need, I think his sign said it all. He was very grateful and the smile on his face was priceless. I learned the joy of helping a less fortunate human being!
Most Upsetting: I visited a popular wings place. I had been there two weeks prior and received phenomenal service. Unfortunately, this time my experience was the exact opposite. The service was poor. The server demonstrated little interest in me and made no effort to interact or create rapport. As a result, I felt like I was “invisible” and did not feel appreciated as a customer. I must also admit, it made me feel “deflated” and it is rare for me to walk away from a shop feeling down.
If I were a paying customer, I would have likely never returned, assuming the service was like that all the time. Then, it occurred to me the reason we are there as shoppers—to observe and report the way we are treated and to convey the impact it has on a customer. I learned why I love mystery shopping!
Most Awkward: When I was a brand new shopper, I drove 30 miles to shop a bank. The representative said, “Why are you here in _____ to open an account if you live in ______?” I wasn’t expecting this! I thought fast and, without missing a beat, I explained I was moving to the area. The moment of panic I experienced that day taught me a very valuable lesson! I learned: Develop a plausible scenario in advance. Anticipate and be prepared for any probing questions.
Most Frustrating: I was in the drive-thru of a very popular fast food restaurant, which was undergoing construction. Suddenly a dump truck parked itself right IN the drive-thru lane and did not budge for about FIVE minutes! Of course, I could not move OR get my food! I took a picture of the dump truck to document the cause of the delay. Always know things can go wrong. When it impacts a service level, the client will definitely want to know the reason. I learned to be proactive.
Most Disgusting: I had to check a restroom and someone had a huge “blowout” all over the toilet and floor. It was beyond human comprehension how someone could leave that for another customer to see. Sadly, it is not the first time I had checked a restroom and wondered if “adults” did this and why?? Thankfully they did not need a picture! I learned how to suppress my gagging instinct.
Most Weird: I was inside a store doing a popular “Donation Store” and I was going down the aisles, checking for cleanliness and proper order of the items and being really focused. I become aware of someone speaking to me. “Excuse me.” I look up and see a man standing on the opposite side of the rack. He smiled at me. I smiled back. I tried to focus again on my assignment. He then said, “You sure are pretty. Can I take you out?” l was did not know what to say. I kept working, hoping he would not try to follow me out to my car. I’m not sure what I learned. lol
Most Rewarding: I did a shop/reveal and visited the restroom as instructed. An expensive iPhone 6 or Samsung Galaxy (big screen phone) rested on the sink. I washed my hands, checked the stalls and saw no one. I grabbed the phone, went out to the dining room and handed it to an associate behind the counter. I left to go back outside and come back in, for the reveal.
When I returned, the lady who lost the phone was at the counter, frantically asking if they had found her phone. The associate pointed to me and said, “This lady found your phone and gave it us.” The customer turned to me and said that she could not believe I would turn in her phone and she hugged me! Then she hugged me again!
She said it was amazing that I would turn the phone in. She explained she was from out of town and that phone meant everything to her. She said she would have been lost with out it. I told her that I only hoped that if I lost my phone, someone would turn it in for me. I learned how good it feels to do the right thing in life!
Most Irritating: I had a cell phone shop, where the goal was to be shown a phone and to obtain a business card. Simple, right? Not always! When I stepped inside, a less than eager associate asked how he could help me. I explained I was interested in a new phone and wanted to see what he had.
He said, “I have to run your credit first.” I told him politely, “I do not want you to run my credit.” He said, “Well, then I can’t help you.” He appeared to lose interest in me! So I repeated my request, this time adding my credit score range. He was adamant, “Like I said, without me running your credit score, I can’t really help you.”
By this time, I was getting so mad and so frustrated! I just wanted him to do his job; you know, show ME a cell phone, since he was likely hired to show cell phones to customers! For this reason, I persisted, “Can you show me the iPhone6?” He reluctantly agreed and, much to my amazement and relief, he finally took me over to see a phone! I learned patience…..kind of.
Most Heartwarming: This goes out to all the associates in those retail stores, fast food establishments and furniture stores, who treated me kind, went out of their way and made me feel special as a customer. There are too many to list but thank you! I appreciate what you did for me that day!