Posts Tagged ‘knowledge’

I Pick APEC of Zippers

November 14, 2011

My coworkers and I are helping an interesting couple, they’re European, at least by accent and attire. At one point, the husband comes up to me asking for help. He needs some sweaters, so I am glad to oblige. I search the floor where I’ve seen extra pairs–as sometimes they end up where they aren’t supposed to be. Seeing none, I ask for someone to check the back, as I double-check our inventory at our register.

The man comes up to me, “Well?”
“They’re checking in the back.” I search the computer, and I see him come behind the register to stand behind me looking over my shoulder. “Oh,I’m sorry, I need some space, sir.” I take a few steps away from him walking through the register area to get away. Finally, they find the sweater, well I actually go into the back to get farther away.

Later, he’s in the fitting room trying on the zip jacket, and unzips it, walking to me. I wonder if he’s going to ask for another size.
“You know, where I come from, the zipper is on this side,” he points to the right, while shaking the hanging end, “for men. For women, it is on this side.” He shakes the end of the zipper, where our zipper also ends. I stare at him blankly. “It’s backwards. Your zipper is backwards. The females have it on one side, the men have it on the other.” I stare at him blankly, because I suddenly think he’s crazy. “It’s okay, it fits good. I am just letting you know, it’s backwards.” He walks away, seeming almost proud to have informed me of this great wealth of knowledge.” I leave the fitting room behind, and leave him in the hands of other people.

I examine every single zipper in the entire store. Every single one connects on the left side. There is no ‘male-side’ or ‘female-side’ for these zippers. Sure, I know buttons are on the left for men, right for women. I tell one of my coworkers this ‘revelation’, noting, perhaps, in his country men’s pants and women’s pants must button on different sides. (Go ahead and look, your button should be on the left side.) So I begin to wonder what kind of country he’s from.

I see the couple approach the register as I go back to the fitting room, free of their backward zippers. Then I hear the cashier ask, “How do I do a Tax Exemption? These people are from APEC.” (APEC stands for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, they have conventions–The Greatest Convention in the Pacific; people from around the world take part in it, hammering out trade-agreements and forward visions of future financial status.)

Either way, I am suddenly stunned that my financial future is in the hands of guys like this. (Even though a coworker has pointed out, some people are very knowledgeable about one thing, and absolutely clueless about every thing else.) I don’t know how far they had to travel from Kazakhstan, but I can tell they sent their best delegates from the Kazakh Ministry of Finance this time around.

Customer Types: The Dumb, Lowered Expectations

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Shiva Reborn

October 3, 2011

Yes, I write about retail. Yet, I think about the world as a reflection in many ways. As a single pebble can cause an avalanche, this same pebble sitting properly can help avoid the same chain-reactions. Man, humanity, homo-sapiens as the destroyers, is this outlandish?

Moving into a macro-scale, we can consider human beings as a trend through history. These are the killers and hunters, the creators of extinction and genocide. We transform the land. Look around you, without a doubt you are sitting no more than five-feet away from a human construct, a change, a disruption in the balance of nature. We do not conform to the world, we force the world to conform to us. We destroy, we change, we topple, chop, dig, and break. We build, yet the ramifications of our creations often harbor far greater destruction.

We topple each other’s nations and civilizations. We find greater ways to kill each other. We destroy our ancestral homes, pillaging and stealing from long honored and revered sites. How many have sought destruction before others have sought restorations? How many tides of human lives, pools of blood and massacre are laid before monuments, and how much of the land was razed just to create such monuments?

Even in today’s age, even every single one of us, how uninformed are we about our own natural propensity for destruction? I have measured my ‘carbon footprint’, and even though my impact measures far less than others, I have the understanding and knowledge of how much destruction I shall cause through my lifetime. How many bags of trash do I create each year, even with recycling? How can I live without producing trash since it is the very fabric of our beings-the wrapping of our own personal daily gifts, may it be food, clothing, or other additions to our personal life.

Look at our transportation and how it was designed. Our cars, our pollution, our single, personal modes of transportation streamlined and made to be as efficient, yet pollutant as possible. The idea of using clean fuel did not come naturally, nor was it something we even thought to do. We move backwards through time–our efforts to save species from extinction only as an answer to the fact we’ve driven so much life to death. Our civilizations worked to ‘conquer the old worlds’ decimating people and culture.

We are, at our base, easy destroyers and hard-to-become creators. In our ignorance, in our natural state, we destroy, we change, we shatter. It takes a great deal of concentration, focus, and work for us to overcome our natural state of being. Before each of us dies, if we took the time to examine how much destruction our life creates, and we try in opposition to instead create and save, do we see how difficult it is and how far away we are from being such pure and mighty creatures–even if we divine ourselves to be so?

I put the magnifying glass to the microscope, I bring nothing into the scene again–I focus on the pebble before the avalanche. I look at customers shopping in stores. We know all stores have some form or vision for their merchandising standards–a look they want, piles folded, shirts hung, and everything set in it’s place. It is a good template for a natural order, if humanity was nature. The customers, our barbarians, pillaging, destroying, and leaving ruin in their wake. How many educated ones know how easy it is to separate a pile of medium from large, and easily replace the mediums on top of the large? How much effort is that? Let us think about how hard this is versus grabbing and ripping a large size from under a pile of clothing, toppling the pile, creating a mess of destruction. Can we actually parallel that to transforming the landscape of the world to our desires? Can humanity, as an evolved species, understand how to take the little it needs without destroying everything around it? I would highly doubt it, if humans can’t even learn to take a size without destroying a simple peace of nature.

It is the state of humanity. It is our basal nature. We are destroyers. We don’t even have the commonest courtesy to keep our destruction away from each other. Just as someone must eventually deal with the trash of our existence–may it be our descendants or the Earth itself–someone must also clean up after the destruction you create just ‘browsing’ through a store. It is an odd, yet useful metaphor.

When can I Return a Non-Returnable?

July 11, 2011

A woman comes to the cash register carrying three tops, all of which are on sale.
“Can I return sale items?”
This is a popular question and rather reasonable. So I look through her three shirts, and one says, “Final Sale.” I tell her, “This one is final sale, so you can’t return it.”
“I know that!” She snaps at me, “I’m talking about the other shirts!” She states this in a tone of my ignorance and the fact I obviously don’t grasp her firm understanding of logic.

Let me pose this question, “If a final sale item is not returnable, and a regular sale item is not returnable, what differentiates the two items?” Because this is the ridiculousness of her question, if she ‘knows’ final sale is final. So I ask you, “What does she think non-final-sale sale items are?” Perhaps they are non-returnable sale, unlike final sale, which are also non-returnable. Wait, that doesn’t make any sense!

I lift the two normal ‘sale’ items, and say, “You can return these.” I wanted to say, “I’m sorry, you can’t return sale items, but you can never, ever return final sale items.”

Customer Types: Don’t Kill the Messenger, The Dumb, Rhetorical, The Riddler

Denim Complimentary

August 20, 2010

There was a time I was an excellent salesperson. There was a time when managers and coworkers asked what my secret was, how did I make sales so easily? As time moved on, as more horrible customers appeared and ripped pieces of my soul apart, I became more rigid and I wasn’t willing to be open, helpful, or caring. Why be an evolved salesperson if your customers don’t care?

Recently, we watched a training video with sales scenarios which made everyone laugh. Yet, watching it, I often thought how much each of my coworkers do this, every single day they work. My philosophy is clear with sales, I believe I need to sell so we each get hours to work–no sales, no hours, no coworkers. The greater influence I am in making people buy things, the more my coworkers get to work–and basically do the bad things presented in the video.

Yet, after the video, I was willing to try. I helped a couple, they were both heavy-set, and the woman wasn’t really open to help at first. So I helped her boyfriend first. We slowly took time finding denim for him, a cut that would work, then a wash that would be cool enough for him, and make her happy. We went on to find matching shirts for several different outfits. Along the way, I also got her back into the fitting rooms to try on several more pants, because her first attempts were failures. I was actually excited, thinking, this is selling again, reborn. They both found stuff they wanted.

I left the fitting room helping another customer, and I walked back in seeing them turning a corner. So I decided to check their rooms, and I found everything still there. They bought nothing. I was disappointed. Then, I hear the manager ask for me. She comes to tell me the couple I just  helped, they felt so bad, so sorry they didn’t find anything; they might come back, but they wanted to tell her how I went above and beyond trying to help them find the perfect outfits, how patient I was and how helpful I was. My manager gave them a survey to fill out. I guess that counts for something, right?

Sales Report Gone Blonde?

August 16, 2010

At the top of the hour, the manager usually prints a report of the hourly sales, tracking, etc. I’m in the middle of the transaction with two blonds, not fake bleached, but real, and not smart, but real. (Okay, that made me laugh a little.) So, they’re having this conversation, showing the depth of their grammatical comprehension, “Like, I told my friend, you know, like, don’t do that, that’s so stupid, you know.” It’s just empty banter threatening to make my eyeballs collapse into the back of my head.

I hear the manager ask me to print out the sales report on a nearby register, which I do, while still scanning in the items the girls are buying. The slip is hanging from the register, as I continue to scan in the last items. One of the blond girls reaches over, ripping the sales report out, and stands there reading it.

Of course, this makes all my coworkers gasp, and even telling them the story, they all gasp. Yet, I decide with great understanding and clarity, that this girl wouldn’t even know what she’s looking at. After several seconds, I tell her, “Oh, thank you for grabbing that for me.” And she hands it to me as if she’s doing me a favor. Yeah, thanks a lot. You’re FAB! Muah, darling!

Customer Type: Capitalist, The Dumb, Lowered Expectations

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.

Socratic Retail Method

July 11, 2010

Introduction
Mentor: Tell me, when you work in retail, where do your paychecks come from?
Pupil: Your employer?
Mentor: Yes, but where do they get the money to pay you?
Pupil: Hmm. They get money from money they make?
Mentor: Very good. How do they make this money?
Pupil: By selling the product they carry.
Mentor: What if they do not make money selling goods?
Pupil: Then they have no money to pay their employees. But if they make a lot of money, where does that go?
Mentor: Ah, you are getting ahead of yourself, my pupil. It is true, if they make more money, one thing they can do is hire more workers.
Pupil: Why?
Mentor: The more money they make generally means they need more help to produce–more people to unpack and replenish clothing, more salespeople to sell, and more cashiers to take the money.
Pupil: Oh, I see.
Mentor: Although each aspect is important, what part do you think is more critical? The replenishment, the salespeople, or the cashiers?

Cashiers
Pupil: The cashiers.
Mentor: Truly?
Pupil: No?
Mentor: What do cashiers do?
Pupil: They take money from the customers, and this money is used to pay the workers.
Mentor: What influence do cashiers have upon the customers?
Pupil: They take the money.
Mentor: Do they help customers find products or fill their needs? Do they help build the sales?
Pupil: No, I do not think so.
Mentor: Although there are very skilled cashiers who can add-on to sales, and generally, they do not directly interact with more than one customer at a time. They cannot multitask multiple customers at once.
Pupil: This is true. Do they not also offer discounts and coupons which also decrease the amount of money made?
Mentor: Very good, you have kept up with your studies. Cashiers have the duty and responsibility to lower the amount customers spend, thus lowering the total profits. This done multiple times, through many transactions can have an overwhelming effect on total profits–imagine if they gave 15% off all transactions. Cashiers have an important role at the end of the process, because without them, we could not complete transactions, but they are not most critical to the success of selling.

Stock
Pupil: What of the stock-people, they are the beginning of the story, without them the product cannot even be found.
Mentor: Yes, they are important. They unpack the clothing, preparing it for the floor. They replenish the clothing when it gets low. Without them, supplies run low. But how do they directly influence the customers?
Pupil: I do not know.
Mentor: Even with a fully stocked table, that does not directly entice a customer to buy anything. It is like a piece of art in a museum to look at, but you need someone there to guide you through the painting, to understand what you are looking at.

Salespeople
Pupil: So the salespeople are important?
Mentor: In retail, which people often receive commission as a part of their job: the salespeople, the stock-people or the cashiers?
Pupil: The salespeople.
Mentor: Why?
Pupil: Because they directly interact with the customers, helping them to find product they are interested in, building outfits and adding-on product before the customer gets to the cashier. And many salespeople are skilled at multitasking multiple customers at one time.
Mentor: Very good. Customers have already made a majority of their buying decisions before they even reach the cashiers. And with discounts, coupons, and other additions, which subtract from the total sale, cashiers have less impact on increasing sales compared to salespeople.
Pupil: And salespeople can ask stock-people to help find product that is missing on the sales floor.
Mentor: Yes.
Pupil: Do salespeople receive credit for these actions?
Mentor: In some businesses, they do receive commission. Or they receive acknowledgment for their sales above and beyond the normal. The salespeople work hard get to know customers, to add-on sales, to bring profits directly into the store so the cashiers, the stock people and other salespeople can be paid for their labor. They can directly influence a customer that is ‘just looking’ into someone who ‘spent more than they expected’. They directly help customers that don’t know what they are looking for. They help customers find the perfect gift for a loved one, and something extra for the customer, too. They bring additional value to each customer that makes a purchase.

Query 1
Pupil: But is there not businesses that only recognize cashiers for giving discounts to customers? They receive acknowledgment for lowering the store’s profits. Why don’t the salespeople get acknowledgment for building the sale which got the customer to the cashier?
Mentor: If you were a salesperson who worked hard, building up a sale, getting to know a customer and making sure they left happy, how would you feel if you were dismissed and forgotten, and a cashier is recognized for signing someone up for a credit card and giving them a discount off of your hard work?
Pupil: I would be saddened and demoralized. I would feel like my work isn’t worth anything. Why do cashiers get recognition for every credit card they get, but salespeople do not get recognized for every single sale they make? They are the ones helping fill people’s paychecks and keeping them employed!
Mentor: Calm yourself, my pupil.
Pupil: I am calm. It just doesn’t make sense. It is illogical.

Query 2
Mentor: What happens when a cashier is processing a card or giving additional discounts that take a long time to process?
Pupil: Salespeople are asked to cashier? They must back-up the registers.
Mentor: Yes, and what happens to the customers that are ‘still looking’ or need help finding products?
Pupil: They are left ignored and forgotten? So the sales floor is left empty, while everyone is at the cash registers, customers are left with no one to help them…
Mentor: Yes, go on. What happens?
Pupil: So the remaining customers will buy less?
Mentor: And many may leave because they did not receive ‘customer service’, all the while this happens, all the additional manpower is taken to the cash registers for the sake of giving an additional discount.
Pupil: And the ripple of one discount means less money for the store… And by the time the line of buying customers is gone, there are no customers left in the store who need help, because they are not going to wait for a salesperson that isn’t there when they needed help.
Mentor: Yes. But if people are only given credit and recognition for giving discounts, and signing up credit cards, and no recognition is given for making sales, would not all the effort go towards the cashiers? And effort towards selling would diminish.
Pupil: Why would any business do this? They would be choking the life out of their own sales. It would be like Ouroboros, the dragon who swallows his own tail. A business like that cannot hope to be successful.
Mentor: What business would be successful?
Pupil: One that prioritizes selling. One that emphasizes and recognizes salespeople as critical and crucial to the life of the store. A business that knows and understands selling and the skill of adding to sales is more important than giving discounts.
Mentor: Very good. That is why we went through this exercise. Hopefully you understand a little more about selling now.

Mentor:
Pupil:

Cultures Clash

June 16, 2010

I am standing near a Japanese duo who are lost. They decide to ask the most local woman (and I mean local, plus she doesn’t even work at our store) for help. This is the kind of local customer who would consider the mall high-paced, and would rather be on a lonely street, or a beach up north where it’s just everyone who looks and acts like you. I’m not saying she’s a bad person, I’m just saying, she definitely won’t be very helpful. As a statement of this fact, they aren’t getting anywhere, because the woman doesn’t even speak good English, nor do the Japanese men. What happens when two groups try to speak a language neither of them are good at? Exactly. Utter chaos.

To my amusement, her high-school aged son starts to ask loudly, “Is there anyone that speaks Chinese here?” This definitely made me laugh. I almost wanted to find a Chinese coworker who’d arrive saying the Chinese greeting, “Ni hao!” Followed by the Japanese, “Ohayo?” And the English, “What?”

Customer Types: Learn the Language

The Lighting Lies!

April 29, 2010

Today, another one of ‘those’ customers came–the kind that are snotty, rude, arrogant, and ironically, they think they’re smart. (I’m not an astrophysicist, but I have an IQ of 150, so I’m not dumb by any account.) I don’t understand how and why a customer can walk into a retail store, thinking they suddenly know more about the product, the availability, and the details of clothing than the people actually working there. I laugh, I laugh loudly; even though I am prone to act like I know nothing when I deal with these rude people. The customer is always right, right? I don’t want to prove them wrong, even when they are wrong, right? Right. I mean, they walk into stores hoping the people working there are more stupid than they are, right?

A man finds me in the fitting room, in the back of the store, because obviously all my co-workers are at the cash-registers, so he’s already moody and rude, “I couldn’t find anyone on the sales floor! Come with me.” And as usual, I am also to blame for this. Thanks a lot co-workers.

So we go to the front, and first, he asks if the shorts are on sale–because, you know, there are signs on all of the shorts saying that all shorts are on sale. I tell him they are all on sale. When a sign says, “All shorts,” it’s generally all shorts.
Then, he shows me cargo-shorts, saying, “I can’t find that color!”–as he points all the way up to khaki shorts near the track-lighting.
“Oh,” I tell him, “The light is just tinted yellow, it is this color here. The lighting makes it look different.” I show him the khaki shorts, near the green, the blue, the gray–you know, all the colors here are totally different.
“It doesn’t look like that color. It’s not the same.”
“Trust me, the light is tinted, we only have these colors,” and I show him double-exposures–where we place the same color twice, “Because we have so many. It is this khaki one here.” Again I show him the khaki that’s hanging up on the wall.
“No, it isn’t!”
I try to get on my tippy-toes, and reach up, placing the short next to it–and even I can see it changes to that color.
“No, it isn’t the same!” So he’s down to yelling at me, because obviously, he knows what colors we have available, and I don’t know anything; because as a customer, you suddenly have a far vaster and knowledgeable pool of wisdom and experience. Just because people work retail, they aren’t idiots–even if some of my coworkers go to college and have advanced Biochemistry classes, but act like they they’re totally brainless children at work, that doesn’t mean they don’t know anything. It just means they don’t care, which is just as bad.
His wife cuts in, “Yes, I can see, it’s the same short. It’s the same color.” Finally, some sanity in a world of stubborn, idiotic  jerks.
So I shrug and say, “Well, you don’t need to believe me if you don’t want to.” Placing the khaki back, I turn to walk away.
He yells at the back of my head, “So they are on sale, right?”
“Yes.” I hiss, but continue to walk, not turning around.

Customer Types: The Blind, Don’t Kill the Messanger, the Dumb, Guessing Game

Intellect and Retail

September 8, 2009

Yes, I’ve wanted to write a book about retail for a while. I think the comic strip is excellent:
Retail Comic Strip
Either that will become a good cartoon one day, or my idea for a book will be a nice cult movie one day–if written well, which is the current sticking point.
Do you know, retail is one of the places where you benefit from stupidity? You can get rewards and perks for being stupid and ignorant. If you go to the airport and bring extra bags, they don’t care if you ‘did not know’ about their baggage policy. You can’t ask to speak to their manager and say you were unaware of these charges, that your bag weighs too much, that you’re stupid–you’ll still have to follow the rules, not ‘well just this one time’.

If you are a bad parent, abusing your children, leaving them alone for long periods unattended, social services won’t arrive and say, “Well, you’re going to earn extra income now, and we’ll help you out.” *smiles* More likely, your kids will be taken away.

Car Insurance doesn’t let your stupidity be an excuse for accidents, it sure won’t stop them from increasing your premium.

In retail, you can get away with saying, “Oh, I didn’t know. I want to speak to your manager.” Where basically whining allows you to benefit and gain rewards undeserving and inexperienced in other parts of life. This is a place where I believe retail and customer service industries have gone wrong. People should be penalized, just like anywhere else for their stupidity and ignorance. In essence, all retail does is encourage it and allow it to envelop the buying culture. It actually encourages you to be an idiot in order to get benefits–I don’t know is far easier than saying I do know.

People walk into a retail store with a thought or ideal that the salespeople working there are less intelligent than they are. Perhaps the only intelligent people are supposed to be management, which also includes a great deal of previous salespeople that have entered the management team–which is the irony of titles because that means they were once dumb and now smart? One time the snotty woman rattled off a list of different requests, wants and needs at the cash register, then arrogantly said, “Did you get all that? Hahaha.” And I looked at her, and said flatly, “I have an IQ of 150, I got it.” I proceeded to do all her various requests and special discounts, gift receipts, etc., then asked, “Is there anything else?” The condescending laughter was gone, when she replied, “No.” What does it say when you work somewhere where intelligence is actually a disappointment for customers?