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08-09-2011
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^I really don't get that kind of attitude. Doesn't her damn job consist in SELLING the clothes. If your client wants to try it on, let him try it on for Christ's sake

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08-09-2011
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^ Haha i'm glad you're on my side. I know that Isabel Marant's sizing doesn't have the biggest range, but I was holding a size 3 shirt in my hands and she tried to tell me IM only designs for woman up to a size 6. Bullsh*t!

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12-01-2012
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so sales managers are only now realizing how annoying sales clerks can be due to the ease of online shopping? nytimes.com

‘Can I Help You?’ Irks the Web-Savvy Customer

By TAFFY BRODESSER-AKNER

ON a Friday morning last autumn, a reporter walked into a Gap store at the Grove, a shopping mall in Los Angeles. A young, bright-eyed woman in jeggings and a side ponytail bounded over with a warm greeting.
“How are you?” she asked. “Can I help you with anything?”
Over the next 15 minutes, four other similarly young, beaming and bejegginged women approached with the same question. The first two circled back and asked again how they could help.
Less than 10 minutes later, the second one said, “Still doing good?”
And this was at a store where all the clothing is on display, with plentiful colors and sizes.
Roxanna Booth Miller, a fund-raiser who lives in Hartford, said she has had negative reactions to solicitous salespeople at Nordstrom, a store famous for customer service.
“They’re more subtle at Nordstrom, but the message is the same: Buy this!” said Ms. Miller, 43. “I try to be empathetic. They’re trying to make a living, I understand, but as I get older, I just can’t keep feeling bad about it. I was at a Victoria’s Secret, trying something on in a dressing room, and a salesclerk stood outside my door with 10 more items that she thought I’d like.”
Some shoppers may like that kind of hands-on service, but not Ms. Miller. “I really prefer a more solitary shopping experience,” she said.
So does Robin Walker, a children’s clothing designer in Los Angeles. She used to shop at J. Crew and Abercrombie & Fitch in malls, but began to find the salespeople too aggressive.
“Whenever someone sees you, it’s their job to say, ‘Do you need anything?’ ” said Ms. Walker, 32. “They don’t really care how you are. I’m pretty frank. I’d say, ‘I’m good for right now.’ And I’d say, over and over, ‘If I need something, I’ll ask you.’ ”
Eventually, Ms. Walker said, she began doing most of her shopping on the Internet, buying clothing from Gilt.com and ShopBop.com, as well as the online portals of her favorite stores.
Intolerance of salespeople’s traditional swarm-and-greet approach is increasingly common, said Mark G. Pingol, a vice president at Envirosell, an international consumer behavior research and consulting firm in New York.
“Sales associates have always been aggressive, but it is our exposure to new types of self-shop retail models that have made us more attuned to their pushiness,” Mr. Pingol wrote in an e-mail. “At the department store, the beauty associate is on top of shoppers from the moment they walk into the section. In our studies, women often described them as ‘sharks’ or ‘vultures.’ ”
A customer’s attempt to get to an intended counter “becomes as planned and calculated as a military airstrike,” he added.
Self-service has long infiltrated the consumer experience, most recently with self-checkout at grocery stores. But the biggest factor affecting attitudes toward salespeople may be the amount of time people spend shopping online, which tends to be a solitary experience. In 2011, online shopping on Cyber Monday was up 22 percent over the previous year, according to comScore, which tracks Internet traffic.
“The element of control, by contrast to the salesperson service experience, is attractive,” said Ravi Dhar, a professor of marketing and psychology at Yale. “You feel like you’re in control of the entire experience, and people like that. There is this notion for the millennial generation that they don’t quite like the style of salesmanship that was going on, since they were raised on online shopping. But it might be becoming true for a larger group of people.”
Mr. Dhar and Mr. Pingol mentioned the practice adopted by Sephora, the cosmetics chain, which asks its sales staff to hover in the background until a customer signals for help, as an antidote for those turned off by aggressive salespeople. Mr. Pingol said that women describe Sephora and the Apple chain, which also prefers the soft sell, as “playgrounds.”
A New York company, Shanker Inc., has been helping train salespeople to narrow what its president, Martin Shanker, called the “distancing of the customer from salespeople.”
“This distancing is so serious today that some customers walk into stores and hold their hand up and say, ‘Just looking,’ ” said Mr. Shanker, who said he has trained the employees of luxury stores like Ralph Lauren, Burberry and Van Cleef & Arpels. Mr. Shanker, who has worked in retail and who calls himself a behaviorist, said he believes that customers have been turned off by years of what he calls “greeting clichés.”
“The customer walks into a store, and they need time to adjust their eyes to the light,” he said. “They maybe never were in the store before. They want to feel the lay of the land even if they know what they want. So if you go up to them before they’re ready and say, ‘Can I help you?’ which is a cliché, you hear, ‘No, thank you.’ That’s a silent derailer because, as subtle as that is, the salesperson unintentionally actually pushed the customer to say no. You don’t ever ask or pose any question that would get you a no.”
The key, Mr. Shanker said, is to get salespeople comfortable with silence after their initial approach, which runs counter to the traditional model of following a customer around and offering information about a product the minute the customer looks at or touches it.
As for the high level of attention at the Gap store, Nick Costino, a district manager in Southern California, said the company was aware of customers’ varying attitudes and was adjusting accordingly.
“We see the customer with their earbuds in” who does not want to be approached by a sales representative, Mr. Costino said. “Some shoppers don’t want that kind of service, especially the ones we see who have done their pre-shopping online. But some do. That’s why we have personal stylists in some stores. People ask for that level of interaction.”
In the end, he said, “We are working on being able to deliver on both ends of that service spectrum.”

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19-01-2012
  379
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I'm surprised by the Zara comments.
The SA's here in Chicago were very friendly. I could see that they were busy, but they still managed to ask questions.
I was trying on a jacket, not my size, I asked for another one, and the SA came back within 2 minutes with the coat.

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19-01-2012
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Interesting article. However, I work at Nordstrom and it's commission so if i don't talk to you someone else will. i would also like to say that sometimes I'm just making my presence known so that when the customer does have a question there is a recognizable face there to help. I wouldn't doubt that some of these people are the same people who when they do need help say, "no one greeted me, asked me if i needed help, etc".

I don't think recognizing the customer is so bad.

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19-01-2012
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Interesting article in #378, I used to work in luxury retail and we would personally get in trouble if we didn't approach customers. The rule was to greet with a hello, then later offer help (after allowing them browse), but funnily enough a 'hello' was often returned with 'can I just look?!'/'just looking!'

I personally do like to shop in solitude however I like being greeted, it can be annoying to be followed etc but I would be more annoyed if no one approached me.

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19-01-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reese06 View Post
Interesting article. However, I work at Nordstrom and it's commission so if i don't talk to you someone else will. i would also like to say that sometimes I'm just making my presence known so that when the customer does have a question there is a recognizable face there to help. I wouldn't doubt that some of these people are the same people who when they do need help say, "no one greeted me, asked me if i needed help, etc".

I don't think recognizing the customer is so bad.
I'm a fellow Nordy however I am in the sales support division...and although I do not make my money from comission I'm still expected to make sure I acknowledge a customer while I'm working on the floor but then I make sure to find them a SA to help with their specific shopping needs.

Best believe you'll get a smile and a hello and the best damn directions to the bathroom from me!

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20-01-2012
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I like when a salesperson makes themselves known not by asking me if I need help but by hanging around, not in a stalkerish kinda way but enough so that I know I can ask without having to look all around for them. Otherwise my response is "No, thanks (I don´t need help) I´m just browsing"...

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20-01-2012
  384
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I got a hilariously bad SA at Nordstrom recently (I imagine she was hired for the holidays & won't last), but when she disappeared I was able to replace her with a good one. She was the type who trolls the floor grabbing things from people and stashing them in rooms so she can get the commission, but is never there when you need actual help. (Maybe she should wander down the hall to Barney's Co-op where she'd fit in )

The funny part was that I had left my umbrella, and when I went back to that department looking for it, she got in my face with, 'Where did you go?!?! I was looking all over for you!!!" My real SA told her I'd come back for my umbrella, which stepped on my saying, "Really?!?! I was looking all over for you too, and you were nowhere to be found!!"

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23-01-2012
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This is an interesting thread and interesting article. I have worked part-time retail for years and I am currently a manager at a Banana Republic. The article was eye opening, but...... I still disagree with most of it and I don't believe the article describes all customers' preferences. We don't work on commission at banana but we do try to give good customer service.

I don't think you need to stalk the people and try to talk to them about everything they touch, but every customer should be approached and greeted. I think it's rude to ignore people coming into the store. And if you greet some people, you should greet everyone or it's discriminating. Likewise, I think it's rude when I greet a customer and get ignored. Just use manners people! What would your mother think? If I am shopping and don't need help and I'm not looking for anything specific, I will still feel offended if no one even acknowledges me with a simple pleasant "hello".

And I think it's important to let customers know if there are any special promotions or sales they should know about. I mean for example, if something you are looking at is actually 40% less than the tag says most people are thankful you told them, and most customers don't read the in-store signage.

And if we are trying to start you a room, it's not for commission, but so you have a place set up when you are ready to try things on and so you don't have to lug it all around while you shop.

Also if when greeted, a customer gives the stay-away-from-me-don't-talk-to-me vibe, then I get it. They want to look by themselves. But you need to keep an eye on them incase later they look like they can't find something and actually need some help. (Not follow, just keep an eye out and be available).

I know I like to just look by myself most of the time when I am shopping too, but you have to offer to help everyone. Even if 49 customers in a row say "just looking" if you decide to just ignore that 50th customer, that is the one who was looking for help with a rehearsal dinner look or a vacation wardrobe or an interview outfit and no one talked to them and they just walk out and don't find anything because no one offered to help. "You never know" is what I'm saying, so you have to ask everyone b/c it's your job as a sales associate. And I like my job, it is fun to help people shop and put things together for them, so when 49 people won't let me go near them because they're "just browsing", I am dying for someone to finally say "yes, I'm actually looking for..." so I actually get to help!

And the part where the customer was annoyed by being offered/shown additional items in the fitting room — almost every e-commerce website does that too when you are viewing the product details page and/or your shopping cart so that is such a ridiculous complaint. Plus, sometimes the customer prefers the things you showed him/her to what she/he selected first because you know the product and what's in the store better than them and they can miss things.

Sorry such a long response but I feel defensive about it and passionate that everyone should be offered service even if they don't need it at the moment. It's our job! I mean not that you should bombard them with today's sales and stalk them, but acknowledge them and make your presence known.

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24-01-2012
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Hmm... so after reading a bunch more of this thread (not the entire thing b/c who has time, but 10-13ish pages) I think a lot of these incidents are isolated to the SA or the situation or the store. Because I have had some experiences where I've felt bad or disrespected or whatever, but not many. And in a lot of the places mentioned as being nasty, I've had good experiences too. So i think it says more about specific individuals who give bad service but I don't think we can generalize across entire brands/stores. Usually.

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24-01-2012
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pinksatin, thanks for chiming in!!

I am a frequent shopper at banana republic.

some shoppers are offended when reminded that the sale items are "take an additional X amount off" especially when there is already adequate signage in the store windows, outside the doors on a silver sign and on every clearance rack in the store.

i remember taking a friends teenage daughter shopping with me to BR last season. she worried she was "reminded" of the additional percentage off because she was african-American and the salesperson assumed she could not read the myriad of signs in the store. i told her that the salespeople were simply reading from a script. and also the reminder had nothing to do with the salesperson perceived ability to measure how much she was willing to spend either.

after all i am always asked specifically if someone has helped me out on the sales floor....what is this question for? and do the sales people "earn" anything for this?

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24-01-2012
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^ they do! I read it in a magazine when I was a teenager and ever since I try to memorise their names when they say it after they've helped me out. I always get them wrong though, especially if they're over 3, which happens often (and no, I'm not an annoying customer, I swear!) .

A bit on the article: I like customer service but as long as it's not too intrusive. I find it equally intimidating to be ignored than to be greeted with some "HELLO! HOW YA' DOING!" from across the store, not sure this happens everywhere but I get it in California all the time, and it doesn't stop there, they'll come from the other side of the store speaking loudly "DID YOU KNOW WE HAVE A VALENTINE'S DISCOUNT ON EVERY ITEM FROM THE LINE BLABLAH AND IF YOU BUY ONE BUT WANT TO GET THREE YOU CAN GET FOUR FOR THE PRICE OF FIVE!!! LET ME KNOW IF YOU NEED MORE HELP!! WE ALSO HAVE A DISCOUNT IN ALL OF OUR MINI BOTTLES! ARE YOU LOOKING FOR ANYTHING SPECIAL?".

I love the hello + smile combo, that does it in small stores. If we're talking department stores, just a smile suffices. Whenever I do need help, I can walk and look for the SA, and that's when I expect them to be polite and professional. Not necessarily nice, for their own sake. I am never rude to SAs but I see people being a PIA the moment they get offered help, I don't think a SA should be obliged to be more than polite and all smiles if someone's being rude, that's a bad policy and not just in stores but restaurants too with waitresses and vulgar customers. If there's one thing that leaves an awful impression as a customer, besides bad personal service, is experiencing bad treatment in a store, either from customers to employees or among the staff. I actually remember Banana Republic for this, someone that appeared to be their boss whispering at a SA in front of everyone "you are going to fold these pieces right now and you are going to get that right for once blahblah", the SA guy looked like he was holding his tears, I felt so bad, and then she looked at me like "HELLO DID YOU FIND EVERYTHING ALRIGHT! ". Stupid bitch . I can probably count with one hand the times I've returned to their store ever since.

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Last edited by MulletProof; 24-01-2012 at 01:06 PM.
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24-01-2012
  389
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Just wanted to note that when I was in college I worked retail in a clothing store on straight commission, so I am clear on what is good service and what is not from both sides. I want to be greeted and treated like a human being, but my mood varies. I may be feeling expansive and want to chat, or I may be feeling stressed and not really in the mood to talk to anyone. Of course a good SA can read this and deal appropriately.

I do resent SAs who want either credit or commission for my sale, and horn in to greet me and grab things from me to ensure they get it. Yes, once I have something in my hands, someone should promptly start a room for me. What I resent is getting stuck with an SA who will give me nothing in return--no assistance finding things, no bringing other sizes, no product knowledge, no knowledge of what the department and store carries.

In this case the SA literally disappeared, so in addition to the already difficult task of shopping, I have to figure out how to negotiate my way to a new SA when supposedly someone is already helping me (not!!).

I also don't know that I have ever had an SA who was able to read my taste and bring me things I'd actually like. I think there's one thing in my entire closet that I didn't pick out myself. Even personal shoppers will bring you what they like and what works for them--not for you. If I didn't know how to help myself I'd be up a creek.

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25-01-2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucy92 View Post
some shoppers are offended when reminded that the sale items are "take an additional X amount off" especially when there is already adequate signage in the store windows, outside the doors on a silver sign and on every clearance rack in the store.
I have plastered over 50 signs up before. Still people are surprised that it is 25% off all clearance when they get to the registers.

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