Every customer is a “secret shopper”


Many young people will not understand this but in the pre-internet era, many businesses would hire detectives to pose as customers to check out the business for its owners to make sure everyone was doing what they should be and these people were called “secret shoppers”. It was very common for hotels and restaurants but other businesses as well. The employees fear of getting caught doing something not up to business practices kept them in line.

Fast forward to the internet era where anyone can write a Yelp review, do a YouTube video, or do a blog post. Since businesses cannot tell who is an “influencer” by looking at them, they have to treat every single customer fairly and with respect or suffer the wrath of social media which is AWESOME! Not sure if “secret shoppers” are still hired by businesses but these days but if so, they are definitely supplemented by “influencers”.

Well, I am the “secret shopper” for 24hr Fitness and they really pissed me off. The poorly maintained equipment, some of which has been broken for more than 5 years was not such a big deal. What really turned me against them was getting rid of the towel service. Actually, its not getting rid of the towel service per se that turned me against them but the ridiculous excuse they used to explain it (see graphic above or view post).  A little honesty and integrity goes a long way with customer goodwill.

Everyone customer is a secret shopper!

Businesses that do well long term still have this sign in the break room, just like 50 years ago: