Friday, October 21, 2011

The Customer is Always Right

 Pure silver cuff by Michael Schofield available at Mark Gregory & Company

Customer service seems to be taking a vacation. It could be blamed on all the downsizing that many companies are participating in to save money. Fewer employees translate into fewer services. Many companies don’t understand how this will ultimately affect their bottom line. To me customer service is very important. When you work in retail, the customer is everything. Without my customers I wouldn’t have a business. I get excited when a customer gets excited and I have always genuinely wanted to help them find that special piece of jewelry. This is why it is puzzling when I walk into a store and no one asks me if I need help.

Way back when, if you walked onto a car lot you were practically tackled by a gaggle of salesmen. Now you can walk around a car lot completely unmolested, why? Don’t these guys want to make a sale? You can also go to the mall and get ignored by the sales clerks at clothing stores. While this is not necessarily a new development, it is really blatant now. Before I was only ignored when I came in the store, now I’m ignored when I try and find help or ask a question. I guess the customer has become invisible.

 Just love the fine detail and workmanship

I personally hate the invisibility factor that most sales clerks participate in at today’s retail establishments. I don’t want to be attacked but some help, especially when I go looking for it, is well, helpful. When I hold a trunk show I always give a little time for the customer to look around. I don’t swoop in for the kill and try and rope them. I let them see what I have first and then ask if they are looking for something special or have any questions. Some people say they are just looking, others comment on my selection and still others have a genuine question. If a customer has a question, I want to answer it and if I don’t know the answer, I will find out. This is what customer service should be about, fulfilling the customer’s needs.

Retailers are in the business of selling “things,” in my case jewelry. You cannot sell any product if you ignore the buyer. I remember a visit to Cartier, I happen to see a watch in the window as I walked by, so I went in to take a closer look. The salesman was very attentive. He told me the price, asked me to sit down and got the watch for me to look at and try on; no one else gives this type of service. They treated me like a valued client from the minute I wanted in the door. While I did not purchase anything on this trip that was not the point, Cartier was trying to make my shopping experience enjoyable and memorable, in a good way.  Too few retailers look at their customers as valued clients. Sales clerks may even view customers as an interruption or burden on their time. This is a bad attitude in business.

 Even the inside is a work of art!

These are hard economic times and the retailer who wants to stand out must go the extra mile. That is why you will always see me at a trunk show helping a customer, looking up pricing or answering questions; I actually like to interact with my customers. So the next time you go into the store and see a sales clerk wearing ear buds, feel free to leave. You will be doing other businesses a favor by not supporting poor customer service and hopefully this will raise the bar. After all, a visit like the one at Cartier should not be so unusual that someone feels the need to write about it.

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