Posts Tagged ‘communication’

Extra-small! We Don’t Have Any!

November 5, 2011

This is definitely a short, yet telling-tale about day-to-day life in retail. I’m rushing back to the fitting-room with clothes a customer wanted, when a Korean couple stops me. They point at a tank top, telling me they want an extra-small. I point at the pile, all that we have left.
They look at me, and not in unison, say again, “Extra-small.”
“That’s all I have left.”
Again, not in unison, this time, yelling, “Extra-small!”
“We don’t have anymore,” I raise my voice a little, as I’ve learned it’s only fair and some people actually appreciate being talked to in the same tone they talk to you. Either that, or they give you some respect for keeping your dignity intact, I can’t tell.
“Extra-small!” They yell louder.
“There is no more!” I reply, but this time, I’ve learned to give that look, the one that crosses languages, the one that makes me a master of non-verbal communication, the one that says stop asking a stupid question, and stop demanding like you’re a child.
They reply more softly, “Okay,” letting me continue my journey back to the safety of the fitting room. Sometimes I feel like a fish trying to breathe outside of water, rushing to get back in.

Customer Types: Learn the Language

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Can You Speak Slower?

July 12, 2011

A customer approaches the cash register. He’s holding a large pile of clothes, and I ask, simply, “Ready?” Sometimes I can’t tell if people speak English, and he looked quite iffy. He didn’t look at me and walked by my register, then stopped and turned back to face me. “Are you ready?” What comes from his mouth in the next few seconds bewilders me.

He replies, slightly confused and slightly irritated, “Can you speak slower?”
Okay, so I tell myself, he’s just visiting and doesn’t speak English–although normally, people who don’t speak English can’t say, “Can you speak slower,” usually they say, “I don’t understand,” or “No English.”
So I repeat myself, this time, much, much slower, “You ready?”
He casually places his pile down, and replies, “Yes, my wife is still shopping. I’m going to pay now, and wait for her outside.”

Wait, what? Yes, what just happened? So he doesn’t understand, “Are you ready?”, but can spit out an entire on-going sentence about himself and his wife? Yes. So where did he need me to slow down? Was it the are, the you, or the ready?

Some people make no sense at all.

Customer Types: The Deaf, The Dumb, Learn the Language

English 101: All versus One

November 11, 2010

Hello students, today’s lesson is an easy one, if you can read English. Are you ready? All is everything, all is everyone, all is basically all. One is singular, one is by itself, thus one stands alone. Got that? Good.

A customer comes with an older coupon, which is still good, giving her 25%-off one regular-priced item. I go through the transaction, and she’s buying three items, two are regular-priced and one is sale. We always give the discount for the most expensive regular-priced item. I tell her we actually have a special for today only–40%-off instead of 25%-off. She seems okay with this, but of course, you can never tell with these kinds of people. So I go through the transaction, and she stops me.

“Wait! That’s not right! That’s the same discount I’d get for 25%-off!”
“What?”
“You aren’t giving me any savings, it’s better with 25%-off!”
I blink, and wonder why I”m faced with such utter brilliance on a daily basis. I explain to her there is no way 25% is greater than 40%-off.
“No, it’s not a better discount!”
So I go back and I show her the discount, and I even pull out a calculator to show her the price of 25%-off and 40%-off. Obviously, in any world except for advanced mathematics, you can argue the 40% discount is far better. She’s still yelling at me, getting angry at me.
So I say flatly, “Fine, I’ll do what you want, okay? I was trying to be nice, but I’ll give you the discount you want. 25%-off.”
So I change it, watching the total increase as I showed her several times with the calculator. Then she yells stop again.
“What are you doing?!? Isn’t this for all items?”
I roll my eyes without rolling them. I point at the coupon, I want to say, “It’s printed in English.” At the very top, the first line, “25%-off one regular-priced item.”
“Oh, I thought it said all items.” She gets violent with the credit card machine, swiping it. I tell her to stop, because we have to get back to that screen, as I say, “So I guess the 40%-off is better.” There is silence. “Now you can swipe.” NO apology, just like there was no thank you I even offered to give her a better deal. This was my first customer of the day. Oh, be sure, be quite sure, she helped make the rest of the day FANTASTIC! Utterly fabulous, thanks lady.

Customer Type: The Blind, The Dumb, Learn the Language, Unapologetic

The Hand of the Mannequin

July 12, 2010

In recent weeks, I’ve seen many a child standing, waiting for their not-so-doting parents. While the child wanders around, alone, they often stand there and hold the hands of our mannequins. It is a curious sight, invoking a feeling of sadness, distance, and cuteness all mixed with the headless body of a male figure. Yes, I haven’t seen children holding the hands of female mannequins, only males. If I had more time and energy, I’d make a mock-up of some psychology report on the necessity for children to hold hands as a feeling of safety, connection, and social-growth, which attracts them to these pseudo-human figures for these needs when their parental guardians do not accurately provide for them.

It is not always single females whose children go reaching for these hard man-hands, but many of them have been. The oddest thing I notice is some of these children are so insistent on holding onto the hand of the mannequin, they actually pull the arms off. Following a huge cracking sound, as the arm slams into the floor, the child generally starts to scream and cry, running to their parent for safety. I also wonder about the affects of these incidents on the frail stability of the mind of children. One such boy wouldn’t let go of his mother, crying for over twenty-minutes without stop. Of course, during the entire time, she either held him or let him hold her as she continued to look at clothes and try it on–which may have been a precursor to his interest in the mannequin’s hand for security. Of course, the falling arm would definitely show this child the harshness of reality and the world, where you may desire something like safety, but in the end, must provide it for yourself, even if the surrogate hand is cold and strong, it can only take so much pulling and tugging before it too gives up on you.

Still, even with these thoughts, I think it’s cute when a kid holds the hand of a mannequin innocently. Especially when they are waiting for their parents, and they just stand there, holding it. I also anticipate them pulling too hard, ending up with a loose arm floating in the dreams of society.

Shoplifter Exam: What Doesn’t Belong?

June 5, 2010

Here is an exam to test your ability to spot shoplifters, by naming the multiple things these people did wrong:

I am standing at the front door greeting. I am very loud, and I also throw my voice–which is useful when I target ears. Haha. So I greet a couple that walks in, and I get no response–not even the look-away, where I’m purposely ignored (A). They stop and look at each other, speaking with eyes (B). The man and woman are very clean-looking, dressed slightly stylish (C). The man is wearing dark shades, and he lifts his hand to give her the bag he’s holding. She’s initially hesitant, but takes it (D). The bag is a large, huge, titanic surf-store bag which is very much empty; at best, it holds a few shirts (E). They continue to ignore me as I approach them and greet them again (F).

As the woman walks away, she passes someone who grazes the large surf-bag; she turns with a face full of anger, glaring at the other person (G). They go to the women’s department, and immediately find the first corner they can, between a table and a wall–there is little visibility here (H). I greet another customer, and continue to talk to this person as I pass from behind the couple to in front of them–they have already grabbed denim shorts and are holding it (I). I continue to speak, but there is actually no one else there–I’m talking to myself (J). My fake conversation takes me right next to the couple, as I point out clothes they are looking at; they have yet to acknowledge my presence (K). I also help a woman in that area, keeping myself there longer.

By this time, I have a coworker who can see them, but they cannot see her. I move with my back turned obviously, so they have time to look at me, and try to steal something while my coworker is watching (L). Then I turn around and continue helping people who aren’t there. The couple is intent on examining the denim shorts inside and out, down to the minutest details–literally–then they put it down and both leave (M). Nothing is stolen.

So, what were their mistakes?
A) Being ignored attracts attention, but it does not mean suspicion.
B) If you do ignore me when I speak English, yet you do not speak a foreign language to each other while trying to communicate–you do begin to arouse suspicion.
C) Nothing wrong here.
D) The awkward exchange with no speaking does arouse suspicion, but only slightly begging, “Why don’t you just say, ‘Take the bag’?”
E) The huge bag was the first, dead giveaway. The fact this bag is not even filled with enough clothes to merit a bag that size is also a giveaway.
F) The second time I am ignored is important, as they have aroused suspicion, even foreign language speakers cannot pretend to ignore me when I get this close and loud. Thus, they are trying to avoid detection acting invisible, yet making themselves glaringly obvious.
G) Her surprise, showed a highly defensive nature toward a bag which was not even filled with anything. Using the sunlight outside, I could only see a few shirts in there. Her surprise was a second huge giveaway. Plus, this isn’t a high-end shopping bag.

H) The important part here is they go to the women’s side, but in (D) he gave his bag away–generally, the woman gives her bag to the man when she shops in the women’s department. When couples shop together in the women’s department, men also carry the bag, because women to the shopping. Secondly, yes, the tight corner with little visibility is another giveaway as it is the best spot to steal.
I) In itself, no suspicion here.
J) They are trying very hard to be invisible, which means they will only look at me when they are prepared to steal.
K) By this time, even the most hard-headed of customers make eye-contact with me. So yes, it is suspicious.
L) My coworker wasn’t trained in the Art of War in Retail, so she didn’t get my hint I gave her, because I gave them 180-degrees of freedom behind my back. As they could not see her, but she could see them, it was a good opportunity to catch them stealing–but they didn’t know when I’d turn around, so that is also a deterrent.
M) Their examination of the shorts is excruciating. They spent too much time looking at it, and also examining the lining on the inside, which was actually where we place hard sensors. Their remarkable interest in the seam was lame and boring and far too long, they were obviously waiting for me to leave so they could steal. When I did not leave, they left instead.

I had wanted a better challenge than this, within the first five seconds they already gave themselves away as shoplifters and dug themselves deeper and deeper. You need to do a balance of normal customer and rude customer in order to steal properly–if you offend a salesperson, you have a better chance of making them go away. Think about it. Ignoring someone is not nearly as effective. Trust me.

The Art of War in Retail: Flags and Signals

May 26, 2010

Chapter 3
Walkie-talkies- The best weapon of any General in battle. Walkie-talkies with headsets instantly send messages to others on the battlefield. Headsets help to keep communication private, and allows you to speak more clearly. Without a headset, you must develop more complex Codes in case the Opposition is listening. You can easily and quickly get others in motion to deal with situations and problems on the sales floor and registers by use of walkie-talkies.

Looks and Gestures- When engaged in battle, a General may need to rely on other ways of communication when speaking openly is not reasonable–most often when faced with the Opposition. Making eye-contact with another General on the field can help bring more reinforcements or supplies to ensure success. These looks must be understood beforehand, or a General may be left stranded and helpless, drowned by the Opposition. A strong, wide-eyed glare can often alert other Generals to the status of their colleague. Even using your eyes to point out something is useful. Gestures can also be used instead of Looks, although they are oftentimes more revealing in your intent; especially if you point, which is not often a good tactic to use. Many gestures can mean, “Save me! Bad customer!  or to say, ‘We don’t have any!’.” This includes a beckoning wave, a glare with a point, and shaking your hands in exasperation. Although this needs more training then walkie-talkie exercises, oftentimes this method is needed when engaging the Opposition.

Code-words- Many armies are prepared before battles with Code-words to mean anything from sales and discounts, to pointing out troublesome situations, such as shoplifters and unreasonable customers. Code-words are essential to verbal communication, as they only reveal a certain amount of information to the Opposition; yet they still provide more detailed information than gestures and looks. “The Benefit of the Doubt” can be one such code-word. “Can I get a manager to the cash register” is always a danger-sign, challenging the strongest Generals to come to battle. “Our friends are back,” can alert people to shoplifters. “These people need help,” when stressed differently can just mean they need help or mean they’re going to be a handful of trouble, so watch out!

Often, using a mixture of all of these techniques can create a streamlined cooperative system to deal with all situations like a well-trained army, which you are. You don’t ever want to end up in a situation, where you’re giving a Look, using a Code-word, and the other person is looking at you, asking, “What’s wrong with you?”