When Sales Assisting Becomes Sales Annoying

I’m not big on shopping. If I don’t do it online, I usually go in with a game plan; know what I want, get in, buy it, get out. The quicker the better. But I was in the city today, which provides a bigger range of places to shop, so today I was willing and excited to pick up some cool things.

My friend and I went to Myer and almost immediately, we were approached by a young sales girl with a perky manner who complimented me on my hair bow, explained the sale they had on, and offered her assistance should we need it. I was impressed. Back home, most sales assistants I see look as though the last thing they want to be doing is their job, and often have about as much personality as a wet rag.

The sales girl started off doing everything right. She was cheerful, polite and helpful. About ten minutes after we had told her we were happy browsing, she noticed me looking at a particular shirt, and then came very and told me about a dress in the same pattern that has just gone on sale. She showed me the dress and, when I politely explained that it wasn’t my style, put it back. From there, things started to go a little downhill. In the time we were there, the same sales girl approached me at least four or five times, stopped me and talked incessantly while trying to sell me things I wasn’t interested in. I ended up leaving without buying anything.

I work in retail, and have done for years, so I understand the sales routine. My own job requires us to meet certain sales targets and KPI’s (key performance indicators), and that can often mean offering things the customer hasn’t expressly asked for. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. I know how to sell but I also know when a customer just isn’t interested. Part of the job is determining who you can sell to, and who you can’t. While I can’t fault the sales assistant for her cheerful disposition, it was clear that she wasn’t able to recognise a customer who just wanted to browse. I’m the kind of shopper that likes to be let alone, and the young girl’s manner became quickly overbearing.

Part of the reason I don’t like shopping is because I can’t deal with the customer service assistants. Oftentimes they’re either rude or they’re only interested in getting my money. So how do you achieve a happy medium? Ideally I like a salesperson who greets me when I walk in, offers help and then leaves me to browse. And I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a smile. I hate everyone, and I manage to make it through my work days making every customer feel like I’m genuinely happy to be serving them. Even the grumpy ones. If they’re the right kind of person, I’ll make a joke or make polite conversation while they wait. If they’re not, I’ll just smile at them and bid them a good day when they leave.

At a base level, customer service is kind of like warfare; you have to pick your battles. There’s no sense fighting an enemy that you’re ultimately going to get beaten by. Ok, so that was a bit of an obscure metaphor. If you go up against a customer who won’t waver on their resolve, it’s unlikely you’re going to get shot, but you might end up on the receiving end of a sharp tongue and dagger eyes. Best to just avoid that situation altogether and find an easier target…er, I mean a more willing shopper.

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