Posts Tagged ‘learn’

No Medium Anywhere

December 27, 2010

Well, today my friend was called a racist, and the customer went to complain to the manager–only because they expect him to deal with every single Japanese customer and my coworkers have stopped trying to put effort and use their brains. I don’t even speak real Japanese, but I can communicate with all but the most confusing, detailed customers. Actually, I’ve been called a f-ing bitch, I’ve had my intelligence insulted, had my folding mocked, been personally degraded, and even once been told, “You should get off the island more often.” I have yet to be called a racist–yet, I can tell you, I judge every customer by race, gender, and actions. So I’m basically a humanist, right?

Either way, my story was a bit simpler. It’s busy, I’m trying to help a lot of customers, because either everyone is at the cash register, their face is buried in a pile of clothes they’re folding (because they don’t realize it will get looked at a minute later and they end up refolding the same pile ten times, without even acknowledging a single customer, thanks a lot coworkers!), or they are otherwise preoccupied in casual conversations with each other. So basically, less than 10% of my coworkers directly contribute to the paychecks of the entire store, and the rest just mooch off of us like fat leeches.

So a customer comes to me, angry, disgruntled and gay. I saw him a few minutes ago, sprawled on our pile of clothes, leaning on it with his full body weight, probably spreading his sweat all over it. He tells me, “We want that dark gray shirt! We looked everywhere!” Sure, from the spot you were standing for several minutes? “There’s no medium anywhere! Except, there is one up there! Can you bring it down for us?” He points to a shelf out of reach–a visual display. And I start looking at the table where he was standing, and he says, “No, we looked everywhere! It isn’t here! We need the size that’s up there–.”

At the same time, I point to a pile of this ‘hard-to-find, gray top’, it’s been sitting there right under him the entire time he was standing around like a pile of blank. I just ask, “Do you still need me?” And then I walk away. Seriously, from lazy coworkers who can’t even try to deal with Japanese customers to customers who can’t even move their fat asses, what is this world we live in?

Customer Type: Big Baby, The Blind, The Complainer

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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:

English 101- I Want an Extra Small!

May 3, 2010

I return from a break and a woman is standing there looking for help. (I swear, I walk into these things.) She hands me a small top and says, “I want an extra small!” I can tell by her loud tone, she’s quite demanding and short-tempered. I search around, and search again, as she follows me around. Eventually, I find an XS-size, and I give it to her. She looks at me angrily, yelling, “No! I didn’t ask for this! I said I wanted an ‘extra’ small! I want another small!”

My face becomes utterly blank, since my patience suddenly dissipates. Seriously, you are in a retail environment, using nomenclature for sizes in inappropriate ways. How can your vocabulary be so stunted that you must use the word ‘extra’ to mean ‘another’ or ‘an additional’ or ‘more’. Don’t ever ask for an extra small or an extra large. I mean, literally, saying you want an extra medium already sounds sketchy. Either way, I get her the ‘extra’ small, so now she has two; I even get an extra-extra, giving her two more, but she refuses–she only wanted one extra small. Seriously?

Customer Types: Learn the Language

Diminishing Returns

April 3, 2010

This will be a more thoughtful post, revolving around the idea of prices, mark-ups, and mark-downs. You see, I often hear people saying, “This costs just two-dollars for them to make,” which is true to an extent. If you could go down to the various factories where clothes are made, and people are paid pennies, then yes, I’m sure you could buy it for two-dollars. But then, oh wise Capitalists, would you travel all the way to these third-world countries in order to buy those products? No, not really.

So, we have to pack and then ship the product to a local store. The costs for packing, shipping across an ocean on a boat to a sorting factory, then shipping to individual stores and locations by plane, in order for a guy to carry it to a store near you, then someone unpacks the boxes, sorts the clothes, hangs them, and displays them… I could go on, but each of these people get paid for your convenience–for our convenience. If you could go to a shipyard and buy it off the boat, that’d be great, but would you? Ha-ha, not-so-much. If, and totally if, you could buy it right after it was processed and ready to sell in a store, then it is worth the price on the tag. This is rarely the case.

The entire process, for me, ignores the Brand price, which you really ‘should’ keep an eye on. Made in Italy means the people are paid a lot more to make it compared to Made in the Philippines, so the final cost is multiplied. Yet, some companies still make their stuff in ‘those’ countries that you’d never want to visit, and then mark it up because they are “The Big Thing”, so they can mark it up, because people will buy it–supply and demand.

Back to the topic on hand, once the price is tagged and the items are on the floor, sure, it cost two-dollars to make and then more to get it where it is, but what then? Then people try it on, and someone else has to re-fold it, re-hang it, and replace it where it was. Someone is paid each and every time this happens, over and over, until that piece of clothing is sold. If you look at the minimum-wage in your state, if this item is worked on a total of one hour, how much is it currently worth? I actually think the more a piece of clothing is touched, the more it is worth, but these are the diminishing returns. Eventually, the items are marked down, which again takes time and effort to move it around as it becomes less-and-less of the ‘main product’ being replaced by newer products. Then they sit ‘on sale’, actually worth more than they were worth when they first touched the sales floor because of all the extra time and money used to upkeep it (it even costs money to have it on display where a store pays rent). In the end, you might sell something for twenty-dollars, but paid all sorts of people so much, you just make a profit of two-dollars on that product.

So when a snotty genius lifts a shirt, ruining the fold, and throws it down, saying, “This costs two-dollars to make,” I wonder how shallow their minds really are. I can learn to accept the rude, but respecting the dumb is a different story.

Back to Cold Weather

April 3, 2010

A woman comes up to me, flabbergasted, because she can’t believe we have so much warm, heavy clothes in our store. She can’t understand why we’d be in such a warm climate and have cold-weather clothes. Actually, a lot of ‘smarty-pants’ walk by or walk through our store laughing, because obviously they’re the smart, funny one in their group, saying, “Look at these sweaters, who is going to wear that here? Ha-ha.” Jokes on you dumb-ass.

I’ll give you a moment to consider how or why a warm-weather store would even think to carry even mildly cold weather merchandise. Yes, some people do work in offices with air-conditioning. Yes, some people get cold anywhere. Did you get it yet?

“A majority of our customers are tourists coming from really cold places. They often buy these warm pieces to take back home, and many of them get a pretty good deal.”
And the woman’s response? It is actually inane.
“WELL I JUST CAME FROM COLD WEATHER! I live in cold weather all-year-long! I want warm clothes!”
Now, on one hand, yes, it’s wise to have warm weather clothes here, and yes, we always have warm-weather clothes–year-round, you just have to open your eyes and see how much we actually have and not focus on the sweaters which the tourists gather up by the handful. You also have to realize the irony of her own narrow-minded comment–you live in cold weather year-round. Where are you going to wear your clothes the longest? A week here, or the rest of the year in cold weather? I’m sure it’s fun to spend your money on disposable clothing, because you burn cash in your fireplace, but some people like to plan ahead of time and have cool, cold weather outfits that no one else can get and no one else has. Some people like to say, “Yeah, you can get that here, I bought it while I was on vacation getting a tan!”

I pity the woman who doesn’t even understand the irony of her own statements. Nor was I surprised when I showed her the huge assortment of tank-tops, T-shirts, and V-necks that we had available, and that she’d end up buying nothing.

A piece of work. A-piece-of-work. I pity her husband even more.

Customer types: Agreeing to disagree, The Dumb, Self-fulfilling Prophet

Teaching the Kids

February 16, 2010

Do parent’s know their children watch them, witnessing how they interact with other people in different situations thus developing an understanding of how they will eventually interact with the world when they grow up?

When parents walk into a store, ignoring a kind hello with a cold-shoulder, their children see this and they’re learning; when a sales person offers them help, when they are obviously looking for something, and they are rudely brushed off with “I’m just looking” even though they actually do need help; when parents treat salespeople as slaves, only existing when you need them, and essentially less than human, just mobile fixtures in a store, only useful when you acknowledge them and need something only a salesperson can ‘find’ for you–your children are there watching every moment, growing and understanding that is how they should act, that is how they should treat other people, acting like this is right not wrong. Treating another human being like garbage is fine, because mommy and daddy do it all the time. Yes, you are obviously a good parent. They say parenting doesn’t come with a book, well common-sense doesn’t grow on trees either.

One day, these children will be adults, pushing their strollers through stores treating sales people in the exact same way, passing on these valuable, unconscious lessons to their offspring so that your grandchildren will be rude, unconscionable human beings. Do you not think these lessons are passed on beyond the retail world? Do you not realize you set a bar for how people can be treated? You may not be hitting or abusing them, but treating them like they’re worthless is still terrible parenting. From what I know from social teachings to religious beliefs, human beings are important, special, unique, etc. but the way we have developed our meandering society which belittles being human based on ridiculous situations based entirely on monetary value, not human value.

This is a perpetuation of a lack of respect, a rudeness which makes no sense. You wouldn’t walk into a doctor’s office acting the same way, walking into a bank treating tellers like this, yet certain sectors of the ‘service’ industry have grown and developed into an accepted avenue where mistreatment and degradation is a norm, is accepted and expected–that treating someone like they don’t exist, that they are less than human, that they only exist to serve you–this is good, this is right, and this is okay.

The customer is always right. No, I’m just looking, can I shove my hand in your face? If I meet you outside the store, then you, salesperson, are an equal, a human being, you exist and you are real, but once you clock into work, you’re worthless, insignificant, invisible, and useless, unless I need you. If I meet you outside the store, how many of your rude, disgusting humans look away or pretend you don’t recognize me, when your reaction says you do? Compare this to kind, good, respectful customers who engage with sales people, talking to them. We actually recognize each other outside the store, wave, and say hello. This is a huge difference, almost a revelation of what it would be like if everyone treated people like human beings and not modern-day slaves.

Remember that son. Remember that daughter. Look both ways before you cross the street. Don’t talk to strangers. Salespeople are modern-day slaves, you don’t need to give them any respect.

Because you know, if you did give them respect, then the entire structure of sales and retail would be worthwhile, enjoyable, and not as much of a life-draining, self-esteem crushing, pride-absorbing industry that makes you feel so shitty inside. If you actually went into a retail store and treated people as human beings, what a difference you’d make; what a difference everyone would make.

Remember, it’s so simple to just say hello when someone greets you, your children are watching.


Don’t Get Me Wrong, part 1.

February 15, 2010

This will be one of my few two-part blogs, which is only meaningful, like season finales, as telling a longer story and having an inevitable movement, development, and transition. You see, I don’t stand against customers. I actually stand for customers, which makes their insults, attacks, and actions that much more offensive, because it actually matters to me–they matter to me.

I have always stood on the side of the customer, to benefit the customer, because of my backgrounds in marketing, selling, and psychology. I actually do believe we need to set-up displays, marketing, and even customer-service to benefit the customer, to help them buy what they want to buy; in contrast to trying to make people buy what they don’t want to buy through coercion and trickery, i.e. credit cards. In order to do this, I have always pushed for improvements. Once, I went to the district manager, just to ask her if we can alter the order of our sizing, so it’s easier for customers to reach–i.e. smaller sizes near the bottom and larger sizes near the top of columns. She agreed to this, saying, “We already have a language barrier with our customers [like Japanese tourists], what does it say to them if we put their sizes out of reach?” Exactly.

I always move things around, as much as I can, trying to help out the customers. I try to train my co-workers to know things which will best benefit the customers. I put marketing, not to be pretty, but to be helpful and easy to read and recognize. I do what I can to remove confusion from the workplace. I don’t step into the store as an employee only, but also through the eyes of the customers.

I do realize and understand the majority of customers that are rude and irritating are, in fact, also stupid, some abnormally so. I just take greater offense when they take out their stupidity at me, as if I did things to make their life miserable, that I don’t do anything to help them. Even when I’ve met regional vice-presidents, I tell them the things customers tell me, I ask for solutions to problems that seem persistent and unresolved. I am one of the few people to consistently fight for better selling, to work out ways to help the customer. I actually do try to do something about problems, I don’t believe in complaining for the sake of complaining.

Don’t complain about things that can be solved.
Don’t complain about things that can’t be solved.

Why am I writing all this? Well I could write more, but honestly, I’m writing this so you don’t get me wrong. I’m not out to hate all the customers. I actually want to find solutions to these problems, and I do believe these problems can be solved. I do believe this society, this culture can actually evolve to remove this abscess of needing to think, needing to be respectful, and turn retail into an act of social interaction that is enjoyable and not riddled with the lacking points that capitalism seem to instill within it. People don’t need to be idiots, companies don’t need to come up with hundreds of rules and clauses to control rampant idiocy, and people can be respectful to each other, not because they have to, but because they want to.

Now, I will write about the customer that broke my resolve, the one customer of all the customers that made me want to cry on the sales floor and made me stop taking their crap, their insults, and their attacks upon my intellect, my self-esteem, and my pride…

Larger, longer, and leather

January 28, 2010

A man comes up to me with two leather belts, and his wife is standing behind him.
“I want a larger belt. This is extra small and this is small, but they are too small. I need a larger size.”
“Okay.” I take one of the belts to go check in the back, and I turn to walk away.
“Wait!” He yells at me. As I turn around, he starts to talk angrily, “Do you understand me? Do you know what I’m talking about? I want a larger size, these are too small! I want it bigger!”
“Yes,” I reply. While inside, I say, “What the hell is your problem, you dumb-ass. What else can you mean by larger size? You want one that’s a foot-wide so you can cover your face? You want me to come back with a giant square of leather that you can wrap around your waist and use it like a skirt? What the hell. Maybe I should look for a giant brick of leather so your wife can wear it around her hips like an accessory. I could even come back with a real cow, asking if this is enough leather. I don’t even understand what else you could even mean when you show me an extra small and a small, then say you need a larger size. You sir, are a moron.”

So I go to the back, and I actually do look for something large and leather, like a bag, so I can come back out and say, “Uh, here you go, durr, this is larger than a belt. Um, this bag, good. This you want, sir? Be good for you. I see leather smell cow inside me toes.” *licks elbows*
Sadly, we have nothing amusing, not even a belt.

I tell him we don’t have a larger size.
“So you don’t have a larger size?”
I wanted to turn around and yell, “Wait! Do you understand me? Do you know what I’m talking about?” Because obviously, we aren’t speaking English.

Customer types: The Dumb, Micromanagement, The Questioner

Family vs Employee Discount

January 28, 2010

A woman comes up to the register with a package and some clothes. She tells me she got a gift and she wants to exchange it. So I take the package and pull out a tank-top. Scanning the receipt, I realize she has an employee receipt. She tells me her nephew bought her a tank-top, but it doesn’t fit. Then, I look at the pair of denim and two shirts she wants to get. I look into her face, and I know there will be trouble.

“I can probably exchange this tank-top for another color or size. But I can’t use the discount on the other stuff.” Already, I’d have to break the rules a little to do this, since the employee needs to be there to do the exchange with their ’employee’ discount. Hence, the employee part.
“No, I don’t want this tank-top, so I picked something else I want instead.”
“I can’t give you the discount, because he needs to be present to use his discount.”
“Why not? I have the original receipt!”
“You have an employee receipt. He was supposed to give you a gift receipt so you could return this item. Giving you the employee receipt means he needs to be here to sign for it.”
“He’s not in the mall! I need this clothes for a trip tomorrow!” Why can’t you just give me his discount?”
“Because you’d get him in trouble. He could get fired.”
“But I’m a customer!”
“Exactly. This is an employee purchase. The rules are different.”
“Where is your manager? I want to speak to your manager. Right now!”
“Sure.” I call the manager over, and we discuss the situation.

So my manager says, “I’m sorry, your nephew has to be present to use his discount.”
“Why not?!? He’s not in the mall! I don’t understand why I can’t use his discount!”
“He wasn’t even supposed to give you this receipt. He was supposed to give you a gift receipt,” my manager states calmly.
“Why can’t I use his discount?”
“If we did use his employee discount, he would be reported, and it could lead to his termination.”
“Isn’t there someone higher I can speak to?”
“No, I’m the manager, and I’m telling you that you can’t do this.”
“I don’t have time for this! I’m leaving for a trip tomorrow. I’m going to call him right now! Wait right here.” As if her nephew, who must be very new, and will obviously be very freaked out when his aunt calls saying she’s complaining to a manager, and thus might actually get him terminated regardless.

So she leaves angrily, in a huff. I would only be afraid if we find out her nephew owns the company. Because we already wrote his employee number down and planned to call his store to tell them to speak to him about how he buys ‘gifts’ for people. She is definitely an ‘aunt’ I would not want to have, since she didn’t even flinch hearing her nephew would be fired for her babbling, whining and ranting. Sure, she’s a customer, but the rules are different with employees. Whining customers can get far, but aunts with employee discounts can’t even get in the front door. There is a clearly cut line between where customer stops and employee begins. It isn’t a line you cross over. Do you seriously think you can walk into any store and say, “Hey, my nephew works here, I want an employee discount, now!”

So she returns several minutes later, apologizing for the situation. Hopefully, he was crying on the phone saying, “You ruin everything, aunty! You always ruin everything!” At leas, that’s what I imagined. She says she called him and worked everything out. She’ll just buy everything now, and he’ll use his discount later. This, too, is breaking our employee discount rules. I roll my eyes without rolling them.
Damn lady, you are so stupid.

Customer types: Big Baby, Capitalist, The Complainer, The Deaf, The Dumb, Tattle Tale

When is a Sweater a Sweater?

January 27, 2010

Oddly, today I had the exact opposite of a person mistaking a sweater for something else. (Like someone mistaking a pile of poop for a fillet mignon.) A couple brings a V-neck sweater to the cash register and when I scan it, they say it’s on sale. I’m not sure about that item, so I ask them to show me the sign. They take me to a table with V-neck sweaters separated from V-neck T-shirts. There is a promotion on V-neck T-shirts.

“Oh, I see. This sign says V-neck T-shirts.”
“Yes.”
“That was a sweater.”
“Yes.”
“This is for T-shirts.”
“But it’s a V-neck.”
“Yes, it’s a V-neck sweater.”
“So it’s on sale?”
“No, the T-shirts are on sale.”
“It says it costs $15.”
“It says regular-price is $15, but if you buy two T-shirts they are cheaper. The original price on these sweaters are $40, not $15. They aren’t even the same item.”
“I don’t understand. They’re the same.”
I point at the sweaters, lifting one up. “This what you brought me.”
“Yes.”
“It’s a sweater. It’s long-sleeved, see the sleeves? It’s thick, feel it. It’s warmer, this is a sweater.”
“Yes, I like it.”
“Yes, and this,” I lift a T-shirt, “It’s a T-shirt. Look, it has short-sleeves.” I show her the short-sleeves. “Feel it, it’s light-weight cotton. This is a T-shirt, this one is on sale.”
“I like this one though,” she points at the sweater.

*Sigh* Eventually, I get her to buy the sweater for the regular price, since it isn’t even a T-shirt.

Customer Types: The Blind, The Dumb