This is a humorous work of fiction that was inspired by an actual experience of overly-attentive staff. I am sharing it here with the writer’s permission. No mystery shoppers were harmed in the making of this story.
Everything was normal at Zmart until someone heard a rumor that the corporate office was going to check in on them soon and that a mystery shopper was coming any day. Of course the point of mystery shoppers is that they are supposed to be anonymous and thus treated like a normal customer, but rumors had a way of spreading. And it didn’t matter if those rumors turned out to be false, if they happened to be true, the store needed to be ready.
Greg knew nothing of the secret shopper rumors when he walked into Zmart. It wasn’t like the store could unfurl a banner that said “Welcome Secret Shoppers!” There wasn’t anything else about the appearance of the store that gave him any indication that something was going on. But it didn’t take him long to realize that something was definitely different from his usual trips to Zmart.
When Greg arrived at the store, there weren’t many shoppers around. It was midweek and during the day so he didn’t expect to deal with too many people. He barely set foot inside of the door when he was greeted with a big smile and “Can I help you with anything today?”
“No thanks, I’m just looking,” came an automatic response from Greg. This scene was repeated as he moved from department to department. He thought it was odd and couldn’t recall being treated the same way in recent trips. Initially he chalked it up to an increased focus on customer service or a recent employee training seminar.
Greg decided that something more was happening when the urge to use the restroom hit him. While he had frequented Zmart before, he had never used their bathroom and he hadn’t noticed any signs. Fortunately this problem was solved when he walked into a new department and was greeted for the fourth time. While he wasn’t the type of person who would seek out an employee to ask where the bathroom was, he figured he may as well ask since the employees all seemed as though they needed something to do on that day.
“Allow me to take you to the facilities,” the lady in the shoe department replied. Greg began to protest that she could just point in the right direction but she insisted on personally leading him there.
Once standing at the urinal, Greg was very surprised when a male employee began speaking to him. “The restroom smells nice, don’t you think?”
“Uh, yeah, I guess.”
The man sniffed the air. “I like the smell of lavender. It reminds me of Spring.”
Greg mumbled something non-committal, finding it hard to finish his business while another man spoke to him.
“So, can I help you with anything there?”
“No, that’s quite alright.” Finished or not, Greg was done with his business. He quickly washed his hands and hurried out of the restroom. He then went to the men’s department, bought a tie, and rushed out of the store.
As he sat in his car, Greg began to fill out his mystery shopper evaluation form. The store employees were pleasant and very helpful. The restroom was well cleaned and smelled like lavender. Some employees do not seem to understand the concept of personal space…
What do you think? Have you ever had an experience like this one?