Tis the season!
Everything is bustling already—Goodbye Halloween and Hello Christmas.
It is all official when the Christmas cups show up at the coffee shop and the Facebook posts start showing up about the merits of “Merry Christmas” versus “Seasons Greetings”.
So, I was doing some shopping the other day and was literally rushing to get OUT of a store. Why? It was because the clerk was too eager. I know that sounds ridiculous but I know I can’t be alone in needing to be left alone when shopping. I have to concentrate on who I am buying for and the colour and the budget. There’s a lot to consider.
Before I rant, let me say I totally appreciate what a hard and usually thankless job being in retail must be. I certainly could never do it because I don’t have the patience that it must take. I also could not stand on those hard mall floors for hours on end (give them a stool, for Pete’s sake)—but that’s an issue for another day.
I take shopping very seriously. I like to go into a store and kind of scope it all out first. When I see something I like I will just know it. I won’t need prodding.
Anyway, back to the store, in question. I cannot stand it when the salesperson attacks when you cross the threshold. In this case, she was my shadow the entire time. Maybe I looked shady but everywhere I turned she was at my elbow. A couple of times, I literally jumped when she popped up beside me. She had a comment on every product I glanced at.
“That’s a very popular item” she says.
I reply with the obligatory “I can imagine”.
“We sell a lot of those” she offered.
“Uh-huh—it is cute,” I answer.
“Is someone having a birthday?” as I review the birthday card section.
“Oh yeah someone always is," I say smiling weakly.
“Anything jumping out at you?” she continued.
I felt like saying –just you, actually!
I get it. It must be terribly difficult trying to find that perfect balance between acting interested and helpful and appearing stalker-ish.
As a customer, I like to be welcomed at first and then just left to my own devices. When I need something, I’ll come find you. Seems fair.
I understand it has to be a juggling act.
Often we go from too much attention to none at all. It is also annoying to be waiting to be checked out while the associate is on the phone. That really bugs me. You just know they find you a big hassle. I find myself apologizing to them for the intrusion.
I was recently in a phone store looking for a cover and the salesperson literally said to me
“I would need to measure the screen.” “I suppose I could find a ruler around somewhere to check it.” (As he made zero attempt to move.)
Let me mention I had the phone right there in my hand and it was a phone store. It ended up he just suggested I go online and find something there. I couldn’t believe it but found it so amusing, I just went along with it and left.
There’s a psychology to it all, I suppose—reading your customer and their needs. It is an art form. Most of the time retailers do it so well, we don’t even notice so I guess that’s why it stands out when they get it wrong.
Maybe the answer is just breathing space. The customer trying to be calm and take time to be courteous and the sales person giving the shopper a chance to enjoy the experience. Everybody take a step back.