how to win friends and influence customers

The years I spent in retail have made me a sympathetic shopper. I've got too many memories of customers who thought my series of little plastic nametags read, "Hello! My name is Donna. Please feel free to be a jerk to me over issues that are beyond my control. Repeating your request louder might actually work for once, and treating me like my job somehow means I'm stupid will in no way lead to stockroom crying jags."

I am very, very nice to shop clerks.

My time in the trenches also makes me intolerant of terrible customer service, and today I met my new personal standard for worst sales clerk ever. I can't get too specific because I was playing Santa's Little Helper, but I decided that, in the name of holiday spirit, I'd try to provide some advice for that grinch at my local mall:
  • Don't try to tell a customer that what she really wants is something other than what she asked for.
  • Don't ask irrelevant personal questions in an attempt to make me think that you're right and I should buy something else. You are not diverting me from the fact that you don't have what I asked about.
  • Don't treat me like I, a poor little lady, couldn't possibly know what I was talking about regarding your product. That shows that you have a really poor knowledge of your potential customer base.
  • Offering me a 20% non-advertised discount on an expensive item thirty seconds after I walked in is a sure sign that your prices are too high in the first place.
  • Don't stand, don't stand so, don't stand so close to me. That was creepy.
  • High pressure sales tactics are bullshit. Don't pressure me to make a decision in seconds. That makes me wonder if your product is too poor quality to stand up to a little scrutiny.
  • You aren't going to bully me into buying. All you're going to do is tick me off and make me think you have a problem with women.
  • Don't ask something like "Well do you want this or not?" while acting like I've just wasted the past few minutes of your life. Your store, in a very busy mall, is empty on a Friday evening during the holiday rush. You should be happy to have a customer to talk to. Customers make the shift go by faster, they are more interesting than sitting in your empty little store and staring at the walls.
Did I mention that the store was empty? Captain Customer Service acted like a manager (if not the owner), so I'm pretty sure it's going to stay that way.

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