Posts Tagged ‘understanding’

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.

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

Cultural Heritage

January 10, 2011

In terms of rudeness; in terms of backwards illegitimate ignorance; in terms of throwing acid on someone’s face, disfiguring genitalia, basic human cruelty; in terms of using your culture to be inhuman, irresponsible, and absolutely, ridiculously narrow-minded and ignorant–there is no excuse.

Okay, I write about retail. I write about modern-society. I write about everyday instances which can happen to anyone. I also write about people, about culture, about society. I write about what people consider normal, just, about habits and actions people have which they think is totally fine, okay, and socially acceptable. I may just write about idiots who don’t know how to calculate one-half of a price, about people who can’t discern between one or all, sale or regular-priced. Yet, each and every one of these people, these human beings will inevitably rely on, lay upon, and use principles of their societal belief to justify their own ignorance and stupidity. They will blame society’s rules, how things are as a reason, as a way to excuse themselves for acting like moronic half-wits.

When I espouse evolution, when I speak about teaching society, to help us take steps forward into a real future, a real society where we can finally understand equality, true compassion, and true realizations about how to act as a real society–it is the simplest, smallest instances of stupidity which manifest and tear down these dreams. Why can people not act reasonably? Why must they walk into a retail store and suddenly become brainless, yet so many of them expect the people working there to be less intelligent than they are? Why can people never apologize, or say sorry when they are wrong, especially when they’ve made a huge scene about their stupidity? Why do they think ‘the customer is always right’ so they can abuse salespeople, whine and cry like irresponsible children just to get their way? Why have people learned, why has society created a world where this is even acceptable?

Why shouldn’t a customer be wrong? Why can’t they admit they’re stupid, admit they’re wrong, and apologize for acting like immature, worthless brats? Why can’t they be called out when they act racist or act with gender-discrimination? Why can’t their intelligence be called into question? Why must salespeople walk carefully upon the tracks of idiots, just to satiate them and make them feel grand in the most empty and meaningless of ways? Why does a society promote this?

You see, people of all cultures come in and act like rude, dumb customers. They can say it’s okay in their culture, they can say it’s how they were raised, but is that really a good reason, other than an excuse? When will we as a human race, a species agree together there are many, many glaring social structures, social rules which are just archaic, if not lost in the annals of time. Some cultures still allow discrimination between genders, some countries still allow race and religion to alter their decisions. This is far down the line, but one day, one day people will look at other people as human beings and give them the respect and dignity they deserve, because they are human beings–not because they are a woman or a man not, Caucasian, Asian, African or Middle-Eastern, not because they believe in Christ, Allah or the Buddha; only that we are all human beings.

English 101: All versus One

November 11, 2010

Hello students, today’s lesson is an easy one, if you can read English. Are you ready? All is everything, all is everyone, all is basically all. One is singular, one is by itself, thus one stands alone. Got that? Good.

A customer comes with an older coupon, which is still good, giving her 25%-off one regular-priced item. I go through the transaction, and she’s buying three items, two are regular-priced and one is sale. We always give the discount for the most expensive regular-priced item. I tell her we actually have a special for today only–40%-off instead of 25%-off. She seems okay with this, but of course, you can never tell with these kinds of people. So I go through the transaction, and she stops me.

“Wait! That’s not right! That’s the same discount I’d get for 25%-off!”
“What?”
“You aren’t giving me any savings, it’s better with 25%-off!”
I blink, and wonder why I”m faced with such utter brilliance on a daily basis. I explain to her there is no way 25% is greater than 40%-off.
“No, it’s not a better discount!”
So I go back and I show her the discount, and I even pull out a calculator to show her the price of 25%-off and 40%-off. Obviously, in any world except for advanced mathematics, you can argue the 40% discount is far better. She’s still yelling at me, getting angry at me.
So I say flatly, “Fine, I’ll do what you want, okay? I was trying to be nice, but I’ll give you the discount you want. 25%-off.”
So I change it, watching the total increase as I showed her several times with the calculator. Then she yells stop again.
“What are you doing?!? Isn’t this for all items?”
I roll my eyes without rolling them. I point at the coupon, I want to say, “It’s printed in English.” At the very top, the first line, “25%-off one regular-priced item.”
“Oh, I thought it said all items.” She gets violent with the credit card machine, swiping it. I tell her to stop, because we have to get back to that screen, as I say, “So I guess the 40%-off is better.” There is silence. “Now you can swipe.” NO apology, just like there was no thank you I even offered to give her a better deal. This was my first customer of the day. Oh, be sure, be quite sure, she helped make the rest of the day FANTASTIC! Utterly fabulous, thanks lady.

Customer Type: The Blind, The Dumb, Learn the Language, Unapologetic

My Retail Explosions

October 29, 2010

Through the years, my frustrations have grown exponentially. Retail is not supposed to be a place where common-sense grows, and this doesn’t even count customers, this is entirely within the retail companies. For years, I have suggested, spoken up, and given ideas on how to improve the workplace, improve motivation, communication, output, everything, and for years, I have been met with excuses and reasons why they ‘can’t’ do something. I have seen a store manager disappear, being replaced by a new store manager. Yet, I still see the same holes and issues which existed five, six, seven years ago. What is a retail business? It is a place where you sell product. What is the focus of a retail business? Making money. When actions and reactions work at odds against this principle, yet are expounded by the company as legitimacy, you have huge problems. For the normal ‘minions’, it doesn’t matter. I’ve had to open the eyes of many coworkers, and even people who work in retail, to see and understand there are bigger pictures than just facing the floor and folding.

As selling is the primary goal of any company, I am perplexed without end when people are acknowledge, even encouraged to do things like get credit cards. What? I can make a $900 sale, but I get acknowledged for opening two credit cards? You want to slap me in the face? You already have. I even tell people, if you get credit cards, you can get away with anything, and you’re still untouchable, you’re invincible, invulnerable. Some of the great credit card champions had no sales skills, slacked off whenever they had the opportunity, and had no desirable skills other than getting someone to sign up for a credit card. We are on an island full of tourists, none of them can sign up for our credit card–why is it so important? If there was an actual focus on selling, on making sales and helping the customers, don’t you think we’d be making our budget with surplus every single month?

My professionalism was sound before. No personal information, no personal conversation. Our managers and superiors are thus, to be treated with respect, as much as they act respectable. You are only as strong as those whom follow you. In my old business organization, I had no candor, I was only seriousness, professionalism is a clean cut line between getting the job done and focusing on that aspect. I know the business models, I know the sales principles. Long ago, when people asked why I don’t get crazy, even with the rudest customers–it was because my professionalism had my eyes on the goal. Yet, surrounded by the lack thereof, how can you hope to hold onto such standards? It took a year before I’d stand around talking story with co-workers, two years before I’d talk story with a manager. I never allowed a superior to ask me about my life outside of work, nor would I have contact with them outside of work. They said I had no sense of humor. They said I was serious. But they could never say I lacked professionalism. There are always standards to be kept, and I was once tasked with keeping them.

My life outside of work hasn’t been the greatest thing with failures from career, to life, to love, I have been buckled, blows struck to my legs. There is no greater satisfaction than simplicity. Yet, within this sense, there is a lack of sense. A retail business survives by making money.

I have a vast intelligence, but I can only take so much of this. Thank you, world, I finally went to set up an appointment to see a psychiatrist. You win, world. You win.

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