Posts Tagged ‘point’

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.

Japan Relief Shirts

May 9, 2011

Well, it’s been a long day. I mean, there are rude, demanding, and honestly, stupid customers assaulting us with demands and threats. So to end my day, my store has for sale Japan Relief shirts. (If you live in a cave and/or without access to news and/or information of the outside world, Japan had a massive earthquake, which caused a giant tsunami knocking against their eastern coast, and also damaging nuclear reactors. We shall say it’s not going well over there. So countries as well as companies have united to try to raise money to help Japan with their rebuilding efforts.) Okay, with that said, we have a display with these shirts and a mannequin wearing one of the shirts.

A large Caucasian man, of shaved yellow hair, standing about 6’3″ and maybe 180 lbs. walks up to this mannequin, points at it and states, “Look Japan!” And starts to laugh, not a little chuckle, but a full-on heavy laughter that continues for several seconds.

Of this, I just go on the walkie-talkie and restate what I just saw, then I say, “Okay, it’s time for me to clock out and go home.”

Customer Types: The Dumb, The Racist

Bad English, You Heard What?

July 3, 2010

A customer comes to the cash-register. I start to scan the items, and she stops me.
“The whole store not on sale?” She speaks some English, but it’s not precise; she has a strong Chinese accent.
I look at her, blankly, “No, only sale-items have an additional discount.”
“No, the whole store is on sale.”
I just stare blankly, saying nothing.
“He said everything on sale.”
I wait for the inevitable, holding my breath. The only ‘he’ workers are standing next to me at the cash-register. So I roll my eyes in my mind, and I ask, “Who?” I actually expected her to point at me, but she trails her hand and points at the manager standing several feet away helping some one.
I chuckle a little, telling her, “It can’t be him, he just reminded us that sales items have additional discount, not regular priced items. It’s not him.”
“No, he said. He said.”
“I’m sorry, sale items have additional discount. Full-priced items are full-priced.”
There is some banter between herself and I, with her husband standing back–even though he’s about a foot-taller and several tens of pounds heavier, he’s obviously not in charge. The hard part is that I’m supposed to believe she ‘heard correctly’ that everything is on sale, while she’s speaking in broken English. I can more easily believe she translated what was said incorrectly.

Later, I tell the manager about the woman, and how she pointed right at him. And as expected, he said he never said such a thing, and she probably heard him wrong. He asked why I didn’t call him, and I told him I’m not one of our whiny co-workers who have to call a manager for everything, “Oh, I need back-up, help me!” I can handle myself, unless I don’t feel like it, then I’ll call a manager, and then slip away into the night.

Customer Types: Learn the Language

That Shirt

June 27, 2010

To prove once again how you parent and how you teach makes your children just like you–may it be manners or lack of manners, common sense or lack thereof–I meet a family who left me unexcited. The son first asks me to find a hoodie or pullover or jumper, however you may wish to call it, which was the last of its kind. I did my best, but since it was the last one, I really couldn’t find anymore.

So I return, telling them I was unsuccessful, then the son points up at a visual display saying, “Do you have more of that shirt?”
I turn, only to find the visual display is shirts, and being at the corner of a wall, there is also another wall next to it full of mannequins wearing shirts. There are roughly one dozen shirts where he’s pointing. I look back at the son, who is a teenager, and ask, “Which shirt?”
“That shirt!” The father and sister also raise up their hands. They are standing physically two to five feet apart, yet all their hands go up and point straight forward without a detectable angle, nothing to help me draw an invisible dotted line to meet at a single point at the wall. Their wild aim would seem to point at three distinctly different shirts. Maybe one of them is cockeyed, maybe one of them is nearsighted or farsighted, has a crooked elbow or bent fingers.  Of course, they speak and look at me as if I’m the dumb one. So I vaguely reach up, pointing at shirts, “This one?”
“No, that one!”
“This one?” Now I’m making my way down the line. It’s like I’m in a police line up with idiots trying to find who committed the murder, and they have no idea what they’re talking about.
“No, the other one.”
Like seriously, you’re standing thirty feet away from the wall, vaguely pointing at three different coordinates, and I feel like the clown running with the target, trying to catch the ball for the queen so she never misses. Of course, I’m not in Wonderland, am I?

Even more sad, when we finally find the correct shirt, it is yet again, the last of its kind–as this family prove to be mutants who have the ability to find items that no longer exist–and they are left sighing, unable to buy anything, because they don’t want anything we actually have that would fit their son, only the things that don’t fit him which we are sold out of.

Customer Types: The Dumb, ESP, Lowered Expectations

Shoplifter- Caution, Keep Clear

May 13, 2010

I’m walking near the front of the store and I see two women who look like shoplifters–and coworkers have said previously, “Don’t judge people like that!” and right after this a manager of another store said, “Did you see those two women, they just stole from my store!” I eventually found the stolen shorts thrown under a rack. I don’t know what’s worse–that I can spot a shoplifter or that they make themselves so obvious.

Okay, so, the shoplifters outside walk into a store right across from us, and I notice how they have this big, colorful shopping bag. When they leave, they aren’t carrying it anymore. Soon, I see another man leaving carrying that colorful bag–they’re tag-teaming! (Tag-team is when one shoplifter goes in to distract everyone, and then another less obvious shoplifter–who generally doesn’t dress the same–enters and steals while everyone else is distracted.) I watch the two women enter the next store as all the employees converge on them–I assume the women are loud and obnoxious. Either way, the man proceeds to enter the store and starts to throw things into his bag, and me and my coworkers are standing there watching, since I don’t know what to do really. Customers outside that store are just standing and watching as he leaves with his bags full of clothes.

Later, my manager says, “And all the customers in our store didn’t have anyone to help them.” As I think to myself, “Seriously?” If that were in our store, and has previously happened, she drags me out and tells me to follow them around and not let them out of my sight–what happens to the customers there?

I get off work soon after this debacle. I know the direction the shoplifters went, and I think about which stores would be the best to hit, considering the type of stores they visit. So I walk up, and lo-and-behold, there they are in a kitchen store ‘browsing’. Nearby is another clothing store where a previous coworker is managing, so I go in, and tell him about the women as they walk by. And I’m standing there pointing at them as they look at us, and they walk away.

I tell the same manager this story, and I get the reply, “I knew someone who was trying to be brave like that and he got stabbed.” Thanks? All I could really reply was, “I’m also packing.” Just don’t tell anyone.