Posts Tagged ‘customers’

The Budget Friendly Customer

October 11, 2011

Although there are jobs with commission–with customers who have admittedly deep-pockets–and other jobs which congratulate or reward employees with huge sales, there is an underlying truth which isn’t always discussed. You see, greeting customers is a random process, not as hard as winning the lottery, but roughly the same idea. You don’t know, when you walk up to a customer if they’re going to be rude, crude, and brusque–well sometimes you actually do. In any case, you also don’t know when you walk up to a customer if they’ll be money-bags or moth-balls–well sometimes you actually do.

So what’s the point? Even if you are a great salesperson, and you get a customer to spend their entire budget–let’s use percentiles–so 100% of their available budget. If the customer has $1000 to spend, than you’ve made some good money.  (Of course, if you make 3% commission on a $1000 sale, that’ s just $30, so you better get on with the selling!) Yet, if a customer only has a budget of $200, then you may or may not consider them cheap compared to the $1000 customer. If their budget is less than $100, then surely you’d be silently spitting upon them, right? This is the point, you can’t gauge the budget of a customer, you don’t know how much money they actually have to spend. So when you pat yourself on the back because you were able to make the customer spend $500, is that because of your skill or because it’s well within their budget?

I think it would make more sense if you consider a customer’s total budget, and how far into that budget you’re able to hit. because you can’t get a customer to spend $500 if they only have $200. If you get a customer with a budget of $1000 to spend $500, and you get a customer with $200 to spend the entire $200–which customer have you truly capitalized upon? Although I believe acknowledging sellers who hit high numbers, I also think we need to take into consideration if they just randomly hit the jackpot, or just ran into a customer who had a lot of money, and they just barely skimmed the edge of that budget.

I bring this up because of the power of money in retail. It makes the customers look at salespeople like they’re only worth as much as money is spent, but the same can be said about salespeople towards customers. In all reality, there is some respect to be found. There are some salespeople who find out how much their customers are able to spend, and help them work through that amount. This definitely takes a great deal of skill, because can you really help a customer find an outfit for less than $100? It’s ridiculously easy if they’re willing to spend $500. So just where does your skill really lay? Does it matter you can make huge sales? Or are you just ‘lucky’?

Retail: The Point

September 19, 2011

The Point is when customers come in, we don’t expect them to buy, we don’t force them–we hope they desire or want what we have to offer. That is our relationship. Somewhere along the line, stores started to add ‘benefits’ to attract the customer. Great customer-service is one thing, slavery is another, but when you add in things like commission, then you begin to enforce this erred system. If people know you are benefiting from their purchase, they know you are worth ‘money’ to them. They know you must cater to them, please them, and find them just what they want to purchase, so you make money off of this. Even in situations where there is no commission, but customers perceive you to be working off commission they treat you differently. They get offended when you’re too friendly, because they think it’s fake. They don’t want to feel like you’re forcing yourself to help them, and they often take genuine help as a sort of contrary–you can’t actually be helping them because you want to, can you? This is how far the simplicity of The Point has gone.

We no longer live in the purity of a system where we provide something you desire, and thus you purchase. We live in a system of competition, most often aganst other companies, but always against ourselves. With modern-technology, we question how many people have visited our stores day-to-day, week-to-week, and year-to-year. We scrutinize numbers, believing them to have the answers, like a Holy Grail. If in the age of mystery, legend, and magic, we could not find the often symbolic, mythical Holy Grail, we will definitely not find it in number crunching. Sure, we can contemplate how to get more customers into our stores. We can consider how to get more people to buy things, but in this process have we lost the Point? In all truth, have we lost the true Holy Grail, which was a simplicity of terms and ideals. It was not mystery and complexity, it was truth hidden before our very eyes. The magic is the fact its not hidden at all, its hidden in plain view.

The technological-age has given us and companies the idea that privacy no longer matters, that customers aren’t just customers while they are in the store, but anywhere and everywhere. We can argue our customers are wearing our clothes, and thus carrying our store with them–as conceited as that may sound. We can argue customers are thinking about our store, and having an online brand is essential to fulfill their needs at any time of the week, day or night. Are they our customers while they browse our websites? Maybe. Are they just our customers the moment they press the buy button? Surely.

The moment we ask customers to fill-out a survey, giving them our name, we lose the Point. If a customer deems our service so commendable to actually fill-out a survey, that should be entirely under their purview. In all honestly, our society and the people whom live within it have only learned to use surveys and reviews for personal uses, often as their own complain box. The impetus for a customer to write something positive is far smaller than it is to write a complain. If we could scale it, I’d say positives are worth pennies to customers, and complaints are worth dollars. They believe in the power of complaint and the smallest irritation is more reason to complain than great customer-service. Ask yourself, to you remember more the salesperson who finds everything you want, and gives you great customer-service or the one who doesn’t do it? Do you remember it because you expect this level of service, that you feel it should always be met and reached? And in all honestly, how often do you even receive this level of service anywhere you go? Yet, it persists in your mind. Yet, you still believe in this level of superior service, and don’t acknowledge the fact it happens far less than it should. Some people say we believe in luck as long as it happens at least once, even if it is one in every thousand. Do we believe in great customers service being the norm, too?

The moment we ask customers to sign-up for a credit card, we lose the Point. I can say any time a store asks me for a credit card, I can just reply with, “Do you have a credit card with this company?” Odds are, they will say no. Odds are, they’re trying to sell something they only ‘know’ about by reading and training. These people aren’t selling something they understand or use. This isn’t like clothing, where you can wear, relate, and communicate to customers to sell in something you believe in. On the rare occasion someone offers me a credit card and has on, we can have a real discussion. Otherwise, this is yet another conundrum retail has created for itself.

The moment we ask customers for an e-mail address, we lose the Point. Sure this is a new age, and a new step forward. We can now send receipts to customer e-mail addresses. Now they can never claim it has been lost–unless it’s a gift, which they’ll solve or have already solved. In the long-run, this will save more trees and create less trash in a world direly in need of eco-friendly methods and ideals. Yet, customers also know this is a step into the ‘privacy’ of their lives–will the receive unwanted e-mails now? Will your store intrude into their personal lives? Sure, you think they’ll think about your store more. Maybe you’ll get more customers to come in. Yet, do you have to ask them to give their e-mail to you? There are many ways to get e-mail addresses from customers, it is how and when you do so which makes a huge difference.

We do not ask for anything from customers, we never should. Our relationship is clear as water. We provide merchandise, we help them find what they want, we help them desire it, and we help them purchase it. The intimacy of that relationship ends then and there. Yes, customers become living advertisements for our clothes. Yes, they can use word of mouth. Yes, they are the power, the electricity that powers and keeps stores alive. Yet, they do so at their own feeling. They tell people because they want to. They’ll wear that perfect outfit when they feel like it. Do you not see, some companies will think of ways to force customers to share their ‘love’ with their friends, they’ll find ways to make customers wear their clothes. This is the greed, the want and the desire of the company, without putting into consideration the customer. This is where the clear water becomes muddied, thick, and filled with grease.

Those who truly understand the Point, these people carry the Holy Grail. This is the Galahad you want by your side. You want someone who understand to just help the customer find what they want. This salesperson will make the customer love what they want, because they love it, not because they have to. Not because they receive e-mails about discounts, not because their credit score is now under your influence, not because you give them the power to complain about your flaws. No, your Galahad will fulfill the needs of the customer and that is all you need. You don’t need to force-feed people to make them happy. Imagine a company whose entire wealth of popularity and fame is based on it’s customer-service–not slavery–but service. They don’t ask anything more form the customer than to see what they have, and to hopefully fall in love with it, and leave with bags of love. This is the company which will not fail. This is the company which shall survive. This is the company which desires to be reborn.

How a Store Stays Open

October 19, 2010

This might be redundant, but that’s okay, I don’t mind. I, the salesperson, have recently been relegated to the cash registers for most of my shifts. I, in turn, go to sleep and wake up with a sore back and tense irritation. I, now, have to stand tied to the registers, because I can only go so far before I have to run back, saying, “I’ll be right there.” I have to watch my coworkers either selling or not selling, while stuck at my most disliked place in the store.

This is okay on days when I have a strong seller to replace my presence on the sales floor. There are some people who can make massive sales, beyond even my capacity–people who understand how a store stays open. How? Well, we can consider the other people I must watch from my perch. These people are folding, making the store pretty, maintaining sizes, etc. (Sometimes, it’s okay, when the store manager orders it, because whose to disagree with the store manager?) Yet, tied to the register, I try to help people, try to send them to the fitting rooms, try to see how they’re doing. While I hear the folders say, “Yeah, take any room,” while standing by their pile barely giving notice to the customers.

How does a store stay open? Is it because you make everything pretty, does that make people want to buy your merchandise? If you say yes, then never, ever open your own retail store. Ever. It is the act of selling, finding what someone is looking for–even if they don’t know they’re looking for it. It is the act of placing clothes in their hand, being a sales person–what do you think that means? A salesperson is a folder? Yeah, right. I think not. Even if you spend all your time making the store as beautiful and folded as possible, that does nothing.

Customers are here to shop, the purpose of a salesperson is to move the merchandise so you don’t need to fold it anymore. If it’s sold, it can’t be folded. If it’s sold, that’s money in the bank. The longer it remains unsold, the longer we have to keep folding it, and the more money is wasted on rent, pay, etc. I mean seriously, beautiful folding isn’t going to pay a single bill.

What makes it harder for me is the fact I know each sale contributes not only to the store, but to the hours each coworker has to work, each paycheck they get back. And I look at people who are ignoring customers, who have the freedom to speak to every customer, to offer them help, and instead, I see them touching clothes. When I am on the floor, I greet every single customer–rude or not–and you understand why I get so many horrible people, because I actually do talk to everyone. I want everyone to find something, even if they only spend $10, that’s far more than nothing.

I have tension and irritation, because I don’t know what I’m surrounded by anymore. I don’t know if it’s colleagues or competitors, because some people are working real hard to make sure other people have no hours, so the store makes no money, and helps people lose jobs, especially when the economy is already so bad.

Art of War: Retail

May 24, 2010

Chapter 1
For some of my trainees who wanted something more entertaining, more in-depth and dynamic–something to stop them from yawning during their first days, I developed the Art of War for Retail. I used to love the Art of War as a book, and how so many different people used it in business, management, and even love. It wasn’t very hard to translate it into the retail world, since it is so similar to a battlefield. Just imagine, at the end of the day, all the slain clothing laid in heaps, tired and exhausted salespeople, and the customer marching away in semi-triumph. Yet, we still win if they are leaving with something from our store, right?

As an introduction, you must consider the salespeople as Generals on a battlefield–which is the store. Their armies are the large array of clothing lined up and ready for the Opposition–customers. Each piece of clothing is a Soldier. The better trained your armies are, the better off you’ll be at the end of the day–this means having piles folded nicely, organized so they are sized properly, and enough of them to take hits all day long. The better warriors will take less hits before they are bought and carried off the battlefield. Once the customer makes it past the clothes and attacks you–you know you don’t have their size, or your product they want isn’t easy to find–thus you engage in hand-to-hand selling. You end up in parlay or under direct siege. You run for reinforcements, bringing out piles of soldiers to litter the battlefield. You may distract and disorient the Opposition, sending them in different directions against different armies you have at hand. As the battle rages, more and more casualties are piled up, wounded bodies are lying around, waiting for your gentle ministrations to bandage their cuts and get them back into the war. You are the recruiter, and many times, you pile and fold your own wins and losses. You may regret forgetting an insignificant pile if it ends up being your critical weak-point.

Now that you know the battlefield, and the units, you must understand the tactics that are needed to ensure victory every day! You must not only survive, but succeed! Welcome, to the Art of War: Retail.

Hello, Welcome! The 7-Point System

April 27, 2010

I have developed a 7-point system for greeting responses, when you’re a ‘Greeter’ and customers walk into the store.

7 – When they smile and say hello back.
[This is obviously the response of choice, because these people were raised as decent, respectable human beings, and most likely, their children will also be encouraged to say, “Hello!” *Waves*]

6 – When they give you a fake hello as if it strains them to take the time to say it.
[I guess this is fine, but it’s still like asking, “Why are you even saying hi if it’s such a drain on you?” I actually greet people because it’s what I’d want, and I don’t do it because I ‘have to’. I even do it when I’m not working sometimes, which is crazy. One of my co-workers did that at another store, when he was greeted, he replied, “Hey, how are you doing?” It totally sounded like he was hitting on the other person.]

5 – When they walk by, and then turn soon after to look at you.
[I don’t ever understand this, as if they’re making sure someone was saying hello? What do expect someone to say when you walk into a store, “Go home”? Maybe these people are just seeing who you were, because they might want to ask you for help later–which I hate, when people ignore you, then ask you for help later. Learn some manners people, you get help when you deserve help. I’m far more helpful, knowledgeable, and intelligent when I’m helping a customer that’s not rude. If you’re rude, it suddenly becomes my first week and I don’t know anything. “Sorry.”]

4 – When they full-on ignore you, which is a middle score since, sometimes you just aren’t heard, sometimes they do it on purpose.
[I can’t say much for this, but it’s far better than any other response, except than the genuine response of hello.]

3 – They stare at you and say nothing.
[Wow, some people have such nerve, they can actually just stare at you when you say hello. And then they walk away. Who teaches them these things? I can also assure you, their children will also stare at you and walk away, and those people’s children will do exactly the same one day. I always say, these people, their parents need some lessons on manners and social etiquette. Spank them with a wet noodle, as my old teacher used to say.]

2 – They look you up and down judging you, and still say nothing.
[Wow but times one-thousand. Seriously, how people get the idea this is right to do blows my mind. In public, if anyone does this to me, I will respond with a, “Yes?” And depending on my mood, I get more interactive. Some comments include criticizing their outfit, how they look, and their right to look at people like that. Of course, when I’m at work, I just avoid them, hoping they need help, because they won’t find it from one of the most knowledgeable and helpful salespeople–because they offended him.]

1 – They wave you away like you’re bothering them.
[Yes, this is also an option in the world of social interaction. They give you the “Don’t bother me, I’m not interested, I’m just looking” wave. You come into someone’s place of business, you make clear you don’t want help. I’m quite sure you become someone who says no one was willing to help you either, right? Manners are a two-way road, people. You are a customer, you aren’t God, you aren’t even commander-in-chief. Actually, you’re just a human being in a world of human beings who consciously make decisions to choose how respectable they are with one-another. Can you imagine a world where everyone decided to be respectable to each other? Don’t laugh, it is a dream of mine.]

Either way, it would be fun to hear co-workers say, “Ooh, I just got a 1-point greeting! Sad face!” Yes, it is a sad face, you stamp it on the entire world. The End.

Hello, Welcome! The 7-Point System

I have developed a 7-point system for greeting responses, when you’re a

‘greeter’ and customers walk into the store.

7 – When they smile and say hello back.
[This is obviously the response of choice, because these people were raised as

decent, respectable human beings, and most likely, their children will also be

encouraged to say, “Hello!” *Waves*]

6 – When they give you a fake hello as if it strains them to take the time to

say it.
[I guess this is fine, but it’s still like asking, “Why are you even saying hi

if it’s such a drain on you?” I actually greet people because it’s what I’d

want, and I don’t do it because I ‘have to’. I even do it when I’m not working

sometimes, which is crazy. One of my co-workers did that at another store,

when he was greeted, he replied, “Hey, how are you doing?” It totally sounded

like he was hitting on the other person.]

5 – When they walk by, and then turn soon after to look at you.
[I don’t ever understand this, as if they’re making sure someone was saying

hello? What do expect someone to say when you walk into a store, “Go home”? Maybe these people are just seeing who you were, because they might want to ask you for help later–which I hate, when people ignore you, then ask you for help later. Learn some manners people, you get help when you deserve help. I’m far more helpful, knowledgeable, and intelligent when I’m helping a customer that’s not rude. If you’re rude, it suddenly becomes my first week and I don’t know anything. “Sorry.”]

4 – When they full-on ignore you, which is a middle score since, sometimes you

just aren’t heard, sometimes they do it on purpose. [I can’t say much for

this, but it’s far better than any other response, except than the genuine

response of hello.]

3 – They stare at you and say nothing. [Wow, some people have such nerve, they

can actually just stare at you when you say hello. And then they walk away.

Who teaches them these things? I can also assure you, their children will also

stare at you and walk away, and those people’s children will do exactly the

same one day. I always say, these people, their parents need some lessons on

manners and social etiquette. Spank them with a wet noodle, as my old teacher used to say.]

2 – They look you up and down judging you, and still say nothing. [Wow but times one-thousand. Seriously, how people get the idea this is right to do blows my mind. In public, if anyone does this to me, I will respond with a, “Yes?” And depending on my mood, I get more interactive. Some comments include

criticizing their outfit, how they look, and their right to look at people like that. Of course, when I’m at work, I just avoid them, hoping they need help, because they won’t find it from one of the most knowlegeable and helpful

salespeople–because they offended him.]

1 – They wave you away like you’re bothering them. [Yes, this is also an

option in the world of social interaction. They give you the “Don’t bother me,

I’m not interested, I’m just looking” wave. You come into someone’s place of

business, you make clear you don’t want help. I’m quite sure you become

someone who says no one was willing to help you either, right? Manners are a

two-way road, people. You are a customer, you aren’t God, you aren’t even

commander-in-chief. Actually, you’re just a human being in a world of human

beings who consciously make decisions to choose how respectable they are with

one-another. Can you imagine a world where everyone decided to be respectable

to each other? Don’t laugh, it is a dream of mine.]

Either way, it would be fun to hear co-workers say, “Oooh, I just got a 1-

point greeting! Sad face!” Yes, it is a sad face, you stamp it on the entire

world. The End.

Why Did You Marry Her?

April 27, 2010

There was a couple with beautiful children. The man had a Mediterranean look to him, his wife was white, short, and round. I’d explain her in more elegant detail, but she wasn’t that nice, nor was her husband.

She started with a few outfits, and her daughter kept taking out bad stuff and bringing in new stuff. Every time the wife would come out of the fitting room, her husband would look at her with disappointment and shake his head. “No, not flattering. Too long. Look how it’s cut at your waist. No, that won’t work. ” She came out several times with totally different looks and outfits, always with a stern, “No.” I mean, her basic outfit she wore when she came in wasn’t even that great–just a t-shirt and jeans that didn’t fit correctly. But, wow, what a husband! Somehow he let her leave the house dressed like that.

If everything looks bad on her, and if nothing makes her look cute or fit right, basically you’re saying she looks ugly to you or you’re implying she’s hopelessly ugly in all the different looks she tries. So why did you marry her? I just stood there, saying nothing, wondering if they wanted cute kids? Because he definitely got that, he could just divorce his tragically style-less wife who can’t look hot even if she tried. Seriously, everything she wore, he just shook his head and criticized it. She looked far better in those outfits than the one she walked in with, truth be told. I thought someone you marry is someone who looks beautiful to you, no matter what. I thought he’d help her out, find something sexy for her, but he was full-on, flat-out, “No, that won’t work either.” Just standing with his arms crossed, looking bored. Of course she got nothing, since none of the looks she tried could pass his inspection.

Still, I kept asking myself, “Why did you marry her?”

Customer Types: Guessing Game, Lowered Expectations

A Cart, like a Donkey

April 21, 2010

Rarely, and I mean rarely, do I see a customer with a full-sized shopping cart walking through the mall. I don’t know where they find these things, who lets them borrow it, or if they are such shopping enthusiasts that they had to buy their own. I imagine some people buy so much stuff, they just can’t carry it. Yet, this still isn’t necessarily a socially ‘okay’ thing to do. Their shopping cart becomes like a donkey. And like a donkey, I’m sure certain stores would turn them away. *Ahem* High-end. The poor donkey-cart has to carry all those bags, being pushed around, laughed at, and stared at all day long. Really, who takes a shopping cart into retail stores? Its one thing being required to make space for wheelchair accessibility, but these things are like Hummer in a world of wheelchairs. They bang things, they move fixtures, and once they stop moving, there is no way around them–not that any cart pusher has moved very fast anyway, right?

Walking around pushing their donkey-cart, I don’t know why, but these people always have a certain look to them. Like today, the woman with her donkey-cart had it full of thrift shop and cheap-shop bags–a good thing to flaunt, right? I mean everyone is staring anyway. Let everyone know, since they’re already looking at you and your donkey-cart, “Hey, not only am I classless, but I am cheap, too!” In the fitting room, she had to announce her arrival by yelling at me three times. Because of her precious cheap clothes, she had to change with the fitting room door open–and believe me, she was trying on everything, so everything was coming off. Horrid, absolutely horrid. Thankfully she was wearing what was left of a bra. So after she was done trying on her intimate apparel, yes, intimate apparel! I walked into the room and was suddenly thrust into my childhood.

I imagined sitting with a blank sheet of colored craft paper, grabbing at my coloring tools. When you open the box, and inhale the smell of crayons–you know where I am taken back to. The entire room reeked of that crayon smell, the bad kind. It was like someone broke little pieces of crayon and left it everywhere, aging for fifty years, rubbing it into the walls. All the clothes were covered with that scent, and everywhere she went, there it was–like a bad habit we try to lose, it just follows you. It is ironic, considering her cart smelled nothing like a donkey, but she just had to smell something awful. Needless to say, I let someone else grab her clothes out of the fitting room, fold them, and put them away.

Customer Types: Lowered Expectations, Piggies

Do I Know You?

April 19, 2010

I have an issue. It is a weird issue, but one nonetheless. My issue is about rude customers, who come all the time. I mean, you know them, you probably know their name; many of them definitely know my name–asking rudely, “Wow, how long have you worked here already?” Yeah, thanks a bunch. *I pinch your cheek very hard* Many customers who come all the time, they’re happy, they’re cheerful, especially since they know I can help them find anything, and point out the good deals. I generally do this for repeat customers, because I think it’s good for business. I generally stop doing this for repeat customers that need to stop coming, because they benefit the store  far less than the little they actually purchase. They make people feel like slaves. They make people feel bad about themselves. They take smiles away from co-workers, who take smiles away from others. They make the world a worser place.

There are customers, I greet them, each and every time, I say, “Welcome back!” or “How have you been?” They glare at me in return. They act like they’ve never seen me. I can even ask how the pants they bought are working out, or that jacket has been useful. They still give the cold shoulder. They still treat you and me like shit. Some customers come every week and do this. They get mad no one helps them anymore–I wonder why. They get mad no one wants to grab tons of sizes, only for them to return it all saying they’ll buy it when it’s worthless and on sale, and instead buying something ugly, just because it’s cheap.

I don’t get these people. I don’t understand how their minds work, or where they think they fit into society. I know, personally, people like this help to keep our society stagnant, moving backwards. They fight the tide of social unity and interpersonal interaction. I want to find their parents and ask them, “Why?”

Customer Types: Capitalist, Modern-Day Slave Owner

When is a Sweater Not a Sweater?

December 5, 2009

So a Korean customer is standing there, trying to ask me about sales. We have discounts and sales on sweaters throughout the store.
“So all the sweaters are on sale, right?”
“Yes.” We go through cardigans, turtle-necks, and all types of sweaters. And I assure him, all sweaters are on sale.
He points at a leather jacket behind him, “So that’s on sale, too, right?”
I stand there for a moment. I don’t know what to think. I just say, “Between you and me, we both know a leather jacket is not a sweater.”
We stand there and look at each other for a while. I don’t really know what else to say.

—–
This reminds me of a story from a coworker a week before. Another group of Korean customers were in the store, and we had a similar sale on sweaters. We tell them the sweaters are on sale, and one of the men asks, “So these are on sale?” And he points at a wall of shoes.
“No, all sweaters are on sale.”
The man turns to a wall of scarves, “Oh, so those are on sale.”
“No, sweaters, those are scarves.”
I eventually find out the man speaks perfect English, so I have no idea why he is acting like he doesn’t understand anything we’re saying. Oddly, he also has issues with leather jackets. He approaches me with a leather jacket, because we have that amazing additional 40%-off sale items. (I really don’t like huge sales, it brings in the best and brightest.) He asks if this is on sale, and I look, and the item is marked down, so I tell him it is 40% off of $150. Then he says, “How much is that?” By now, I’m really just tired of how much his brain is on vacation, or how much he wants to look like he doesn’t know anything. I ask him if he really can’t do the math…
Internally, I think: It would be, for slower people, 40% of $100 is $40. 40% of $50 would then be $20 (because $50 is half of $100). Are you still following?
I tell him, “It’s $60 off.”
And he suddenly collects his wits, and says, “Yes, you’re right.” Gosh, really? I am? At least I don’t mistake shoes and scarves for sweaters.

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