Today is Friday and I took a little longer lunch than I am allowed. However, it’s also the end of the month and for the first time since starting my new sales job six months ago, I made my quota for the month! So I decided to give myself an extra half hour or so. (Don’t tell my boss. The company is VERY into Rules.)
I drove to a local outlet mall and walked around. There’s a fancy little boutique there I’ve hardly ever gone into, because it’s really expensive and I dress more casually anyway. I’m just not excited about spending $66 on a t-shirt (that I can’t even wear to work), $168 on a pair of capris, etc. But today I optimistically thought, “I’m going into this shop and maybe I’ll even try something on!”
It was very boutique-y inside. Expensive clothes. (OK, so this is not Soho. I live in southern Minnesota and it’s July–we wear light, comfortable clothing that we can relax in while we can. Winter is coming and soon we won’t even be able to move in all our layers.) Gorgeous jewelry. Most everything made of beautiful fabrics and with a great flair for fashion. Unique, thoughtfully-designed and carefully-made clothes. Nothing would “go” with anything I own, stylistically, so I quickly realized if bought one thing, I’d have to buy something else to wear it with. I was the only (potential) customer in the store.
Also in the store was a little clerk (size 2) with a fabulous haircut, perfect makeup, and a gorgeous outfit. She quickly and obviously sized me up in my business casual khakis (no jeans at my office, even on Fridays) and striped cotton shirt with a collar. The look in her eye said, “you don’t wear clothes like this; why are you bothering me in my store?” She forced out the word “hello.”
I said hello back and looked around. I consciously decided not to judge her based on one word; see how good I am? (Was it Eleanor Roosevelt who said nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent?)
I looked around the boutique and after a minute or two, a second customer came in. She was a middle-aged woman (more middle aged than me, ha!) and she was wearing a sort-of-frumpy outfit that she looked comfortable in. She had a friendly smile on her face. She looked relaxed. I thought she must be on vacation or happily unemployed.
This pleasant customer walked up to a little table of blouses with some sequins or something shiny sewn onto them. She exclaimed, “Oh! This reminds me of New York City!” The clerk mumbled, “uh-huh,” or something, and the customer went on, in a positive tone, “this store really has some unique clothes!”
To which the flippant clerk retorted, with a combination of annoyance and frustration, “well, this isn’t Wal-Mart.”
(And I thought, you nasty little snot!)
She might as well have said:
“Well, obviously you have never shopped in a place like this because I can see you get your clothes at Wal-Mart. You don’t belong here. Please leave.”
I don’t know if the woman left, but I did.
What if I treated my customers that way? Here was a customer who was excited and impressed with the products in a store, and the clerk was a bitch to her. I wonder if she felt any better after saying that.
I know I don’t always say the perfect things to customers. For instance, sometimes I don’t know the answer to their questions so I have to tell them I don’t know but I can find out and get back to them. Sometimes, in my mind, I’m disappointed that they only have $800 to spend instead of $8,000 while they think they’re spending a huge amount of money with me. But guess what? They like my products and they are interested in doing business with me, so I appreciate whatever business they can give me, even if they’re just pricing me out right next to the competition.
Bottom line, piss on elitist clerks and their size 2 outfits, too! There, that’s all!