Some news to share with you. I left my retail job because I start an office position on Monday. Wait! Before you get all excited, the job isn’t my dream job but I will be utilizing my skills as an administrative assistant.
It took me almost two years to find an office position but that’s another post about ageism. What I want to talk about today is something that we can all stop and think about.
Hey—even I need to practice what I’m preaching! It’s how to be a good customer. Or basically a nice one.
But before I get into the “how to’s”, there are a couple of things I want to address.
The store I worked in was Nordstrom. I worked with some really great people and made wonderful friends there. My manager was amazing and comes into the second place of best boss I ever worked for. After all—he took a chance on hiring an older woman with no retail experience. I have to be honest when I say that there is no ageism at Nordie’s.
This is the store where I worked. Bravo to Nordstrom for being anti-ageist! Bravo to Nordstrom for having great customer service!!
Alas, retail just wasn’t for me. I am a creature of habit. I like knowing what my bi-weekly pay will be because I like to budget and the unknown amount of salary stresses me out. I like my hours of 9 to 5. I don’t want to work weekends. I don’t want to work until 10:30 or later in the evening. It just isn’t me.
Well, I’ll never have a million bucks–but I DO like to know how much is going into my account on a regular basis!
My daughter, Oona, loved working retail throughout college. It was great money and, for her, the hours worked well! Many people love working retail for the same reasons that I don’t. It’s all what makes you happy! My son, Jake, worked retail for one day. Then he quit. Roman worked at Barnes & Noble–literary retail. He enjoyed it!
My absolute favorite part of my retail job was meeting people. I was fortunate enough to meet two people from our little circle of friends here at Atypical60! Sharon and Joan!
It really is the best feeling meeting friends for the first time! Sharon and ….
Joan lightened my days when they came into the store! Meeting Joan was a 100% surprise!! It was great!!
I also loved just talking to the customers and helping them decide which handbag to buy or not purchase. Overall, I had a great, great time with 99.9 percent of the women who came in to purchase handbags or just to browse.
Yes. This is a Furla bag. However there is a reason it is in the clearance section. You cannot wear this color every day. I know this. I HAVE an orange bag and I wear it only around Halloween season!
And I also learned a lot about engaging with people. In the short time of employment, I also realized that I had not always been the perfect customer in the past.
I could be curt—especially if I felt that a sales assistant was being pushy. I could also be a bit dismissive because when I go shopping, I know what I am looking for. I could also be impatient if I have to wait on a line. That isn’t nice. And I’m sorry.
So sit down with me on the sofa. Grab an iced coffee or an iced tea and I’ll tell you how to be a good customer. Actually, I’ll tell you how to try to be a good and nice customer—even if you already are!
When a sales assistant approaches you and asks if you need any help, please don’t angrily tell them “No”. Be kind in your answer.
You may not be aware that the sales staff is doing their job when they ask you if you need help or assistance. Their job is to “sell”. They are expected to keep up with sales goals. If you honestly don’t need help or assistance, please be pleasant in answering them. It can be hard to approach a customer at times, especially if there is a full department of sales assistants. Sometimes the assistant isn’t aware if someone else has already asked if you need help. Kindness counts.
If a sales assistant asks you if you need help, please don’t put on your resting bitch face. Smile and just say no thank you!
Too many sales assistants asking you for help? Here’s how to handle it.
One thing that continually stuck in my mind was something I learned in training. The customer will go to whomever they want to go to. So—if you feel that too many sales assistants are asking for help, scout out the one s/a who you would want helping you if you do need assistance. Maybe you like the way they are dressed or the way that they smile. Maybe you notice that one of them is closer to your age—whatever the reason, choose your soldier. Trust me that “sold”ier will make sure nobody else gets anywhere near you!
Whatever the reason, seek out the sales assistant that you can relate to. I would pick this guy! He would definitely “get” what I want!
Beware the “sharks”. Choose your Sales Assistant wisely.
This is touchy. In my experience with retail, the majority of S/A’s were great. If a customer came up to the register without any sales assistance, the good S/A’s would ask the customers if they were being helped. There is a reason for that and it is called “commission” (More about that later).
In fact, many of the top sales assistants are incredibly knowledgeable about the inventory of the entire store—not just their specific department. They are proactive without being sharks. They won’t steal a sale, they will actually split a sale!
A shark will prey on you. They will try to sell you anything. They will not pay attention to your needs or your preferences. They will push you to buy, buy, buy. I’ve had customers return items only to tell me they were “forced” into making a purchase that they really didn’t need.
A shark will also take advantage of any of your retail weaknesses. If you are indecisive, they will swim you over to the most expensive item in the department. If you tell them you don’t know what you want—watch out! Don’t let them walk all over you.
If a shark suggests an item that is downright fugly or absolutely not your style, smile and say. “You know, that isn’t me and I’m not crazy about it.” “But it might look great on YOU!”
You are being a good customer by giving the shark a subtle hint. You are no pushover.
A good customer will not allow a shark to devour her retail goals!
If you do need help, seek out the sales assistant who may be tidying a shelf or display. Seek out the one who isn’t hanging onto the cash register. And seek out the one who will give you honest opinions.
Please shop to “keep”. Please do not shop to “return”.
People do not shop to keep any more. They shop to borrow. The one thing that drove me nuts about the department store was their return policy. It is, hands down, a nightmare for those who work there.
From the Cosmopolitan site. As soon as someone asks this question, you KNOW the item is coming back!
Did you know that returns are drawn against the sales assistant’s commission? Oh yes they are. Up to one full year!
People will purchase designer handbags for their teenaged daughters to wear to Prom and return that same bag afterwards without any guilt or remorse. They will wear a pair of shoes to a wedding only to return them two days later with a “They didn’t fit right”. And I’m not talking about cheap shoes either. I’m talking two, three hundred dollar pairs of shoes!
Oh. A very minute amount of people actually save receipts from five, ten, fifteen years ago. It is their safety measure for long-term borrows.
I’ve had people return handbags that smelled of cigarette smoke, had crumbs in the bottom of the bag—I even found a necklace in one bag—and say, “I never used the bag” or “It didn’t work for me”. I cannot make this shit up. I’ve even had someone return a bag, with the original receipt from 2010 and tell me that the bag didn’t hold up the way she thought it would!! Luckily the period of commission draw was over for the sales assistant who sold the bag.
This is one very old Longchamp bag that I’ve had for years. YEARS! It is filthy. It is ripped. I will never return it because it has gone through NORMAL wear. I may, however, bring it to Nordstrom to have the little hole repaired. Did you know that Nordstrom has a “Bag Doctor”? It’s a great, great service. For a small charge (depending what the damage is), he will repair your bag. I cannot tell you how many women have used this wonderful service for bags that they love! Don’t return. Repair!
If you want to be a good customer, just tell the truth. Don’t lie that you never used a bag that was used for years. Just say you are returning the bag. End. Of. Story.
Another time a woman I was assisting ran into her friend as she was getting ready to purchase a bag. The friend was a bit “meh” about a bag she was thinking of purchasing because she clearly wasn’t crazy about it. Anyway, the woman I was helping turns to her friend and says in a really loud voice “Buy it anyway”. “They take anything back”!!!
I stood there dumbfounded. First of all there was absolutely no need to say that in front of a sales assistant. Secondly, it was such an entitled statement. And her tone just turned my stomach. And no, Nordstrom does not take anything back. Nordstrom will not allow you to return an item you purchased at another store such as Macy’s, Walmart, Target or Wegmans.
I’m sorry but we do NOT take anything back.
The woman purchased the bag and returned it two days later.
Please be a good customer and keep your thoughts to yourself. The sales assistants are aware of the return policy. They do not need to be reminded of it. It is painful enough without the customer announcing it to the entire store!
There are also “serial” returners. These are people who have nothing better to do than shop. They will browse, purchase, return. Repeat. Browse, purchase, return. After a while you get to know who they are.
This is an impulse buyer aka “Serial Returner”. That look on her face–she’s thinking about which pair to return later today!
And you avoid them.
Please, I am begging you. Please do not become a serial returner. It is much, much better to be remembered as a nice and respectful customer. You do not want to be labeled as a serial returner. It is a worse label than being labeled a thief!
Most stores pay their sales assistants on a commission-only basis. A good—actually a GREAT customer respects this.
While I realize this isn’t the case for all stores, most of your larger department stores pay on a commission-only basis. If commission is not met the s/a will receive an hourly rate. However the hourly rate is not a high one.
This is where being a good customer is so important. It is also really important that the good customer understands this. If a sales assistant comes up to you and asks if you need help, and, at the moment you do not,—please, ask them for their name or ask them if they have a card.
If a sales assistant has been helping you and leaves to go on a break or lunch, please tell the person at the register that __________ was helping you and you want the sale run up under her /his name or number.
If you really, really don’t need any assistance at all, please seek someone to help you just a tiny bit. Even if you approach a sales assistant who may be tidying up. It would be a pleasure for the him/her to ring something up for you.
When shopping, even before working at Nordstrom, I’ve always asked sales assistants if they are on commission. If so, then I get the name of the person who assisted me and make sure they get that sale.
When you do decide on your purchase, beware the sales assistants who hover around the cash register.
Yeah. I call the cash register area the “shark tank”. That’s where the sharks hang out. They won’t ask if anyone is helping you. They will hover around and hoard any sale they can—especially if it isn’t theirs.
And so, I beseech you, my friend. As a good customer, please tell the person who is hovering around the register that you were being helped by _____________________.
Please don’t lead the sales assistants on. If you really have no intent on making a purchase, release them and let them work with a paying customer.
Leading an s/a on is almost as bad as being a serial returner. Sometimes it is just fine to browse. We all do it. How are we going to see what’s out there if we don’t go out and look? But when you approach a sales assistant on a very busy day and you have absolutely no intent on buying and ask a million questions about a particular item, you are leading the sales assistant on and taking a possible sale away from them.
Everything is relative. Trust me. S/A’s love to give you information about product. Especially when it isn’t busy in the store. That’s the best time. But during a big sale or a busy weekend. Let’s keep the browsing to browsing.
Do you mind if I ask you a hundred questions about this item that I have no intention of purchasing? Yes. The sales assistant does mind–but only if you ask on the busiest of days. When there’s nobody around, the sales assistant will answer two hundred questions! Be respectful.
Are pleasant. Are willing to take suggestion. Are nice people. Are always happy to have a helping hand. React positively to honesty and constructive criticism. Will ask your name. Will seek you out when it is time to make the purchase. Will shop to keep.
And 99 percent of customers are dream customers.
It’s just that sometimes a gentle reminder can be in order. I sure know that I need a gentle reminder now and then. So here’s to you, the customer. Because without you, many people would be out of a job!
A pleasant customer is the best customer!! And a great customer is not clueless!
And now, as I return to the life of a customer, I will definitely be on my best behavior!
Here’s a fun shopping song by Toni Basil and a blast from the past! Shopping from A to Z! XOXOXOXO!