This second post on working with experts looks at the customer that perhaps grossly over-estimates their knowledge, is mistaken or is just plain wrong.
Marshall Field supposedly said “The customer is always right.” This is a great way to proceed with your customers unless they are wrong.
In these situation, you can turn to Aleister Crowley and his less famous quote for guidance “The customer is usually wrong but statistics indicate that it doesn’t pay to tell him so.” So, what do you do when the customer is wrong? The key when working with pseudo-experts is to be patient, gentle and respectful.
I will admit that I do not buy as much music as I used to. Part of it may be my age. Part of it may be the availability of music from other sources (Amazon Prime on Echo). Part of it may be that I listen almost exclusively to NPR when I am driving near home.
But one of the main reasons is that I have lost touch with Steve. Steve was not an old friend or a work colleague. He was not a music reporter for some hip website, publication or YouTube channel. No, Steve was just an employee of a record shop I used to frequent in Seattle, Silver Platters, at their old South Center location. I didn’t really know Steve. In fact the time that I ever spoke with him was when he happened to be the cashier that rang up my purchases at the front counter.
Even though we exchanged few words, he did communicate with me and significantly influenced my musical tastes and my purchases. You see Silver Platters used to have a display located at the front of the store that featured music that the staff members were listening to. Over time, I came to realize that of all the staff members, Steve had musical tastes that paralleled mine the closest. If Steve recommended a cd (this was the early 00s), I would buy it. I was never disappointed. I miss Steve and his musical recommendations.
Last fall I was in the market for a new tent and after doing some research, I narrowed the choices down to just three. Given my size, I like to try tents out before I buy them so I headed out to the local Mountain Hardwear shop where they had the Mountain Hardwear Optic 2.5 in stock.
Having done my research ahead of time, I knew the statistics on the tent such as dimensions, weight, packed size and materials. I also knew the price. At $240, it is a moderately priced tent in the Mountain Hardwear line, where tents can range to over $500.
I arrived at the store nicely dressed and freshly showered. As I entered the store, I was greeted warmly by the person near the cash wrap as I made my way to the back of the store to the tent department. As luck would have it, the Optic 2.5 was actually set up on the sales floor for display. This kept me from going through the hassle of asking to have the tent set-up. As I bent down to crawl into the tent, a clerk approached me.
Not the poor backpack
There it sat, right in the middle of the aisle, the poor backpack. It had fallen from an overstocked fixture and now it sat in the middle of the main aisle circling the store. I am not sure how long it had been there when I spotted it.
Being small, the pack did not block traffic and was easy enough to walk around or step over. I figured that if it was still on the floor when I got to it, I would put it back on the fixture.
As I stood watching, I noticed two employees walking up the aisle towards the backpack. Ah, I thought, I won’t have to pick up the pack, surely one of these two employees will. I was wrong. In fact, one actually stepped over the pack and continued up the aisle.
Chilton Table in Spalted Sugarberry by Room & Board
As we continued through Room & Board, I was feeling less and less inclined to spend any money there and was anxious to leave.
But then, towards the back of the store, we found ourselves standing in front of an interesting piece, the Chilton Table in Spalted Sugarberry. My wife and I looked at one another and began to talk about how we both truly admired the table. We also admitted that neither of us cared all that much for our current dining room table bought less than 3 years ago.
As we stood examining the table and discussing how a table like this would be great to have in our home, an amazing thing happened. Amazing since I had long since given up hope that anyone would ever greet us much less offer any help.
A smiling Room & Board employee stepped up to a nearby computer terminal to lookup some information. While going about her business, she turned to my wife and I and said, “Isn’t it a beautiful table?”
“It is beautiful,” my wife responded.
I spotted this on a recent visit to Macy’s. The vending machine was located next to the men’s wear department. The machine contained a variety of small electronics and accessories.
It seems like an interesting way to increase assortment and profitability without requiring the store to have knowledgable staff to sell the items. I imagine a third-party service maintains the machines.
I always appreciate point of sale materials that are both useful and well designed.
I saw this POS display designed for those of us who are a bit “fashioned-challenged” at my local JCPenney. (JCP clearly knows their target audience since not many “fashion-forward” men are shopping at JCP and many of their male shoppers made need some guidance.)
Shoppers do not need to know the lingo of the fashion industry to buy a pair of pants, they can simply look at the illustrations and read the description to decide which pants to buy. Nice job Dockers and JCP.
Too bad it makes no mention of actually taking the pants into the dressing room and trying them on. But that is a different issue.
I stopped at the local Outlet Mall the other day to do some shopping and some observation. It was a warm and sunny day and may of the stores had their doors open to deal with the heat.
Being a fan of the brand and a citizen of the PNW, I stopped by the Columbia Sportswear Outlet where they had a great sale going on. I quickly found several items that I was shopping for so I headed to the registers where there were a number of waiting cashiers.
“I can help you right here,” came a greeting from the nearest register.
Retailers would have you believe that Memorial Day Sales cannot be missed. The advertisements make it sound like the stores are giving things away for next to nothing. Caught up in the fervor, my wife and I headed out on Monday to catch the end of some of the sales.
As we wandered through one of the stores something caught my wife’s eye. Uninterested, I continued to wander through the store when a customer interaction caught my eye. So I moved in for a closer look. Something just didn’t seem right.
My wife and I were out at one of our favorite local bicycle shops on the quest for the perfect bicycle helmet for my wife’s commute. While perusing the vast selection, several salespeople approached us offering help. But since we were not ready for help, we politely declined.
As each turned to leave, they mentioned that there was more sizes and colors available in the basement stock area that they would be happy to retrieve for us.
After trying on dozens of helmets, the choice was narrowed down to one. Unfortunately, the desired helmet in the size and the color we wanted was not on the shelf. Now instead of approaching us, we went in search of a salesperson. We quickly found one.