Posts Tagged ‘salesperson’

Justifying Obesity

September 23, 2011

“This is the United States, why the hell don’t stores carry larger sizes?”

My customer goes on a tirade, yelling about the fact we do not carry his size 40, and beyond–I also assume other stores in the mall also do not carry his size. He’s so upset while ranting about the size of American people and the fact obesity is so rampant and thus stores should cater to them, his wife is patting his shoulder calming him down. After justifying his obesity for the store, and venting his frustrations at me, even though I honestly tried to help him find is size in black slacks, he throws his clothes down and walks out of the store. Now, I felt about compassionate for him, though not as much as I do for short people whom cannot even fit our shortest clothes and must either hem everything shop in the children’s section nor people whom have extra large thighs or calves or rear-ends, for these are often genetic in origin. Some obesity is genetic, we know as a country, especially the United States of America, this argument only goes so far because many of us were raised on fat and grease, fast-food, unhealthy eating, and growing up with the worst habits possible because of our wealthy spoiled social self-beliefs. Shall I include smoking, too?

In a country where ‘super-size me’ is an epidemic being curbed, you’d wonder if society is being helped out by making it harder to acquire the largest sizes; where extremely heavy-set individuals must pay for two plane seats to ride, if they do indeed take up two seats; even the ideal of having a super-heavy duty-sized car comes with additional taxes and prices just because of their sheer size, which is obviously a detraction, but still worth noting. I don’t often hear an argument from large people who fly on planes saying, “I only wear size 44-pants and XXXL shirts, I can only fit so much in a suitcase, obviously you shouldn’t charge me for extra luggage, because this is a vacation I’m going on I need a minimum amount of clothes and it won’t fit in one suitcase!”

Honestly, when I first started working in retail the topic of size came up, and the cost of clothing. I did argue that larger sizes should cost me, of course I was surrounded by much larger coworkers whom were upset with my remark, and of course took this in the most illogical way possible, commenting how fat people are already ostracized and discriminated against–as if gay people, and straight men aren’t discriminated and prejudiced in the fashion world as well? How many times do I have to act more girly just to make a woman believe what I’m telling her? Or how many times I’ve been passed up by a customer so they can ask a sloppy dressed new-girl her opinion just because she lacks a penis?

Either way, let us say you walk into a fabric store and you find a roll of fabric you love for $5. You find another roll of the exact same fabric, yet lo-and-behold, you can get two yards for the same price! Would this make sense to you? Would you pay for one-yard of fabric for $5, if you can get two-yards of the same fabric for $5? If you pick the first option, I really need to find something to sell you. Obviously, you’d want more fabric for the same cost. When I’m shopping for denim fabric in the sale section, do you think I’m going to buy the smallest sizes available? Not when I can purchase the largest size and get twice as much fabric for the same cost. You know, some companies are catching onto this, they may call it shrink, but they will charge more if you request larger sizes, because realistically it costs more for more fabric. Hopefully they charge less for the smaller sizes, too. They don’t offer a ‘super-size’ for free (unless it’s a special deal) and they definitely won’t charge you the same price for the kid’s meal. Why? Because of economics.

Also economically speaking, if we consider medium to be the median or middle-size, and this size was chosen as the average size of most human beings in the region–thus American and European sizing is different (I hope you already knew this). Depending on the market in the surrounding area, medium should be the first size to run out–small and large should be secondary, and thus extra-small and extra-large would be the hardest to sell. Time-and-again I used to have extra-extra-large customers come in and raid the sale section, amazed at all the deals they could find–because no one was buying them, because so few customers came in looking for it. Economically speaking, to remain profitable I would make the extraneous sizes harder to acquire. Yet, the sizes are still available online for purchase, which today’s customer didn’t find comforting.

Returning to the subject at hand, justifying obesity, defending obesity, sometimes society does things which I personally acknowledge. The movement away from the popularity of smoking for example, wonderful. The social outcry to environmentally friendly, astounding. The American movement to stop being the most overweight country, to bring health and consciousness back into our lives, and trying to break through the hurdles of self-created weakness and lack of accountability with one’s personal well-being and social inadequacies, especially on a world-class scale, I approve. Just as much as customers need to learn how to treat other people like human beings, they also need to break through other beliefs they grew up with and stop using them as crutches. Some of the most brilliant people emerged from the poorest regions of the world. It is not because they allowed the world they were born into to control them, it is because they capture their own self-worth and belief to take them where they wanted to be.

 

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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.

Treating the Human Being

September 17, 2011

For my 200th entry, I want to switch gears a little, to get back to the roots of my stories, of why I tell these tales, sometimes of horror, sometimes of jocularity, because there is always some sort of rhyme to the reason–even chaos has order. One of the greatest problems I have with humans and humanity is our utter disregard for each other. It is the way we walk through the streets every day of our lives, and you know how it goes–you don’t care about the other people you walk by, drive by or pass by–they are totally anonymous until they get in your way, until you are forced to interact with them. Honestly, the most conscious I am of people is my want and need not to get in people’s way, not to disrupt the flow of their day, and to allow them to continue on without interacting with me. I digress.

I know it is how we are, how we’ve been trained, it’s been instilled into the essence of how we are–when we walk into a retail store, or any place where we make a purchase, we look at the people whom serve us and we don’t see humans. At least a majority of us act in this way. They see, they act like there is an object, something worth a monetary Capitalist value standing in front of them, something they potentially own or control. The customer is always right, right? Consumer confidence is the power that rules the economy, right? Is it really right, or like time, have we forgotten we created this concept and now we allow it to control us as if it were a spiritual conception outside realm of reality.

You see, there are many people who walk into a retail store and they automatically believe we belong to them, we are their servants. There are people who believe they can act however they wish, because we are just there to serve them, their money makes us less-than-human. They will yell and insult, they will demean and act rudely to the full extent of their abilities because they believe it is their right to do so as customers. And somewhere, somehow, someone empowered them to believe this, someone allowed this thought to emerge and become reality, as much as drinking beer and eating solves problems, as much as the belief that low self-esteem is normal. None of this is, we created it, we can control it, we can let it continue or we can make it stop. That is in our power as human beings.

So what do we do? Obviously, we can’t break people’s habits. If you grew up thinking smoking is cool, you aren’t going to suddenly stop. If you grew up watching television which gives so many wrong answers to problems, yet you believe they’re all correct, what is there to do? The only thing we can do is take a step back and remember we are dealing with human beings. During this age of dehumanization, desensitization, where we don’t even touch other human beings, let alone hear their voices in person, we have an obviously growing separation. Yet, I believe the future of our species, our people is based on learning to treat each other with respect, with dignity, by learning to treat everyone else as human beings. We’ve spent decades, centuries learning how to stop treating humans as different categories, different levels, redefining what it is to be a part of society. We’ve spent so little time focusing on being human, on seeing each other as human beings.

The future of our society is as human beings, together as human beings, treating each other as human beings. It shouldn’t be a hard fight, or a hard ideal to live for, but I can promise you the kind of people who live in this world will fight as hard as they can to not treat other people as people. Because they’ve only learned to see other people as objects, as a worth, not as human beings.

The Company Divorce

August 29, 2011

I was sitting with an older employee, at least one who has been with the company for far longer than I have. She was telling us about one of the worst customers she ever knew. This customer is a woman who they would always help, always give the best service to, and always ended with a smile. Then the woman would leave the store, and call the customer support line to complain about the store. She’d say how rude the employees were, how they didn’t help her, and how she felt so ridiculed and insulted by the service, and she didn’t want to ever shop there again. In response, the company would compensate her with gift cards, free purchases, or some other form of compensation for her terrible experience. Then the store would be called by the corporate-level and spoken to about how they treat their customers, get the sales training workshops, etc.

Eventually, the store manager caught onto this little game. The next time the woman came in, they gave her the absolute best service imaginable. They found everything she was searching for. They did all they could to please her. Then she left, and the store manager called the customer support line to tell them exactly what just happened, and the experience the woman had. Soon after, the woman called to complain about the service, and was caught red-handed. Because of all the ‘gifts’ she had received, she also left a paper-trail of all her ‘complaints’, which were unfounded. The company officially divorced her, and told her she was not welcome back to their stores ever again, and they would not appreciate her business any longer.

It is at least nice to know the customer isn’t always right.

Customer Types: The Complainer, Capitalist

What is California?

August 26, 2011

I wander up to a customer rummaging through a pile of pants. I ask if she needs a size.
“Yes, I need two zeroes.”
“Double-zero?” This is an American-size, roughly meaning really tiny, or smaller than small. I’m sure triple-zero exists.
“Yes, two zeroes.”
“So you need size double-zero or two zeroes?”
She looks at me curiously. I point at the pants she has, which is a zero, “You want one more? Or you want a smaller size?”
“Oh, this size is fine. I want two zeroes.”
Obviously, clarity is lacking here, but I get the point and search if we have any more size zero pants.
“I’m sorry, you have the last size zero at our store. The next closest location is in California. They still have some left.”
“California? What’s that?” The way it’s stated, it sounds like she’s referring to California like a cardigan or cropped pants, or perhaps a color of the rainbow.
“California,” I show her the screen on our register and point at the address listed, “It’s a state.”
“What? What is California?”
Obviously, when someone taught this woman English, they left out certain things. So I just say, “We don’t have any here.”
Then she points back at the table, “I wanted to get two, because they’re ten-dollars each!”
I follow her bony fingers leading to the sign on the table, which says, “Tank tops $10.” Well, we’ve got a winner here. I am uncertain how much English she has learned, or how much she can read, but I’m sure she didn’t graduate at the top of her class. I inform her that the tank tops are, well, tank tops, not Californias nor pants. The pants are full-priced.
“Oh.”
I don’t stick around to find out if she buys the pants or not.

Customer Types: Agreeing to Disagree,  Learn the Language

Inconsistent Sizes

July 29, 2011

I’m nearby a couple looking at graphic shirts. I’m folding and they don’t seem to want my help. Of course, this doesn’t mean I can’t listen in, right?

“Look at all these shirts! The sizes are so inconsistent.” He shows her two shirts, “This is a large, but this is also a large, but it’s not large. Can you see that? All the sizes are wrong.”

If he had included me in the conversation, I would have told him these are shirts brought into the company from other brands and companies, to help promote their shirts. I personally noticed some are longer, and some slimmer depending on who made them and what customers they made each shirt for–because you know, some customers prefer longer, slimmer, wider, and shorter, etc. I was particularly surprised about the sizing of these shirts, but I just find the one that fits best and move on. Either way, I just keep folding.

“Well that one is the right size, it would fit you,” his girlfriend says with encouragement.
“It doesn’t matter, I wouldn’t wear it anyway.” He grabs the pile of shirts he was looking at, and shoves them back onto the shelf and walks away.

Now, that’s an outstanding man, and I must commend his girlfriend for her outstanding taste in men. I am so glad that not only did he waste my time by looking at all the shirts just to complain they were inconsistent in sizes, but even when he did find the right size, it didn’t matter, because he wouldn’t wear it anyway–awesome, spectacular, awe-inspiring. This man is definitely management material, here. Someone, hire him immediately!

Customer Types: Big Baby

Two-Week-Old Cardigan

July 17, 2011

A customer enters the store, she has a crumpled up bag with our name on it. You know what that means. Yes, it’s a return and/or exchange. Excitement! Generally, these people ignore my existence when I greet them, as if they were superstars or the ultra-wealthy, as they walk straight to the register.

I greet her, and she looks at me with a blank, careless expression and opens the bag. She pulls out a cardigan. I instantly know it’s sold out, also it’s old, and that it is on such a reduced clearance, I highly doubt anyone in existence has any–I mean, we were selling it for that cheap. I hold my breath waiting for the inevitable.
“I’m looking for a smaller size in this,” she states flatly, a mix of a command, an order, and well, just plain rudeness.
So I tell her, we used to carry it, but we’re absolutely, totally sold out. It has been weeks since I’ve seen it in our store.

“I know,” she replies. Well that’s a relief, right? At least she’s omniscient. “But your other store called here two weeks ago, and they said you have it.”
Really, two weeks ago? Only two weeks? Now she’s a time-traveler, too. Well, two weeks is just seconds ago to a tree, too bad we aren’t trees. Two weeks in a retail store is two sales cycles, thousands of customers, enough time to put out an entirely new line of clothing, and I can tell you, two weeks ago, we had a huge holiday sale–which we sold those cardigans like ice cream cones on a hot and sunny day. I assure her we don’t have it now, but we did have it two weeks ago when they called.

“Just look for it,” she commands, this time more sternly, as if I’m supposed to shudder in her might and grandeur. Let me tell you, she was fat, middle-aged, and roughly a foot shorter than me. She was approximately as scary as a toad after a rainstorm just before it’s run over by in-coming traffic–and I’m the one in the car. I tell her there is none, and suggested maybe she should have come in two weeks ago when the other store called and confirmed we had it–because we actually had it. We are only a few miles away, it doesn’t even take two weeks to walk here. I see no point in coming in two weeks later looking for a super-duper sale item, demanding people find it. So I go with Plan B–the treasure-hunter.

I take her around the store to confirm, with her own beady, little eyes that we are indeed out of this cardigan. I offer her a plethora of different cardigans, many in the same color–which is an odd mint-chocolate ice cream shade. Either way, she’s resolute in the fact she wants the cardigan she has, but in a smaller size. No other cardigan will equal the greatness and beauty of her super-sale cardigan, the one she wants so badly that she was unwilling to come in two weeks earlier to pick it up when she knew we had it. Bravo, little lady, you are an exclamation point in the evolution of reasonable, logical thought. Well, actually more like a period. After a thorough journey through the store, with every cardigan being rejected, I am left to give up and move along–as she said she’ll look for herself now.

Eventually, she asks another coworker to find a sweater for her. She asks if they are on sale, to which my coworker tells her, “No, it’s still new.” They are actually on promotion for half-price, but since the woman ‘asked so rudely’, my coworker declined to inform her of this. Of course, my coworker didn’t yet know this woman annoyed me earlier, we later found out together.

It seems for rude people what goes around comes around. Sadly, I had to see her leave with her two sons carrying large boxes of pizza. At least they shall feast like kings tonight! Even if she won’t get to wear her magical cardigan while doing so.

Customer Types: Micromanagement

Itchy Panties

July 14, 2011

So a very natural looking woman comes up to the register with a ball of clothes. By natural I mean, the idea of hippie comes to mind, but that’s so decades ago. This is one of those all-natural people, which is fine, as long as I don’t smell body-odor–this is generally worse when I go to an all-natural foods-type grocery store and smell body odor, it definitely ruins one’s appetite. So anyhow, she has that ‘look’, which generally doesn’t mean anything, but thankfully usually means she’ll have an eco-friendly bag, which she does. The main issue is her bundle or ball of clothing

I really could not tell what I was looking at as I grabbed the ball and attempted to pull out pieces of clothing. At the same time I’m pulling, I hear a coworker on the walkie-talkie say, “Look at all these panties she tried on! I wonder if she bought any?” I have no idea what she’s talking about, until it falls into the palm of my hand–one underwear, inside-out. And then another, and another, I’m standing staring at a bunch of worn panties. I pray, I pray to all who can hear me not speaking it aloud, “Please tell me she didn’t try these on!” Yet, bikini bottoms also emerge, and even though I’m being careful, they’re all inside-out, and I’m accidentally touching hygenic-liners, I’m touching the parts of panties that touch the various places I don’t generally think about touching at work, literally.

My hands start to itch. I wonder if it’s my imagination. I suddenly wish I had super-sight, or I could take the time to look closely at my fingers. I imagine little critters and things crawling all up and down my hands, and up my arm. Even now, I feel uncomfortable and dirty. Yet, I struggle through it. I scan every single one of these panties, attempting to put them right-side out, but I have to touch so many things in order to do so. I quickly pack it into her eco-friendly bag, and after she leaves, I beg someone to watch the registers for me.

I definitely need to wash my hands.

Customer Types:

Can You Speak Slower?

July 12, 2011

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

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

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

Some people make no sense at all.

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

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