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4, October 2016

To leave a lasting impression, speak the language of the customer

I must admit that I am a shopaholic, an addiction that I am slowly trying to get rid of. I am not the typical Madame Bovary type. It’s just that I am a compulsive, impulsive, and obsessive shopper with a thirst for clothes and accessories. Sometimes, I look at my stacked up clothes and still sigh “I don’t have the right one for the occasion”. I don’t necessarily stick to popular brands, if something catches my eyes I just buy it. All these shopping sprees have left lasting experiences in my mind; some I cherish and some I detest. Let me share at least a few with you.

I happened to walk in a well-known brand’s showroom because I wanted a particular type of denim jacket. I had taken my niece along with me. Suddenly I could sense someone close-by almost breathing down my neck. I looked up. It is this customer service representative with the cheerful smile and a “How may I help you” look. I asked him what I wanted. Off he went and I continued my search. He came back after some time and said: “Sorry madam what you are looking for is not available”. I said, “Thank you”.

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And there should have ended the matter. But much to my dismay, he reappeared after some time to offer suggestions. I politely refused and moved on. After a minute or two, he was back. He kept following me like Mary’s little lamb. I desperately tried to avoid him. I grew tired. At one point, I lost my patience and I sternly told him “If I need his help I would definitely ask you”.

Yet, he kept coming back.

We left the shop in a hurry. It was not that he had any other motive but it was that he just didn’t know where to draw the line between being helpful and being annoying.

Chennai city sprawls with many multi-storied shops that boast of “eight to twelve floors, containing everything under one roof”. I don’t venture to these shops often but at times, my impulsive nature pushes me to explore, especially when there is practically nil crowd. These shops are filled with stacks and stacks of clothes yet to have to patiently go through them to find what you wanted. Once by sheer luck, I did find what I was looking for. It was the perfect piece of clothing and I took it for billing. It is then that I notice this small defect. I hurriedly move to this service rep who was mechanically folding clothes. I showed her the defect and ask if there was a similar piece. With a deadpan face devoid of all emotions, she snatched the cloth, kept it aside and indifferently answered: “whatever is available is already on the rack”. Now that was rude. But then she is not measured by her attitude, nor is the organization bothered about it. They have many customers thronging the place day in and day out. One customer hardly makes a difference for them!

Two days back I went to buy groceries in my locality. A newly opened boutique that can hardly hold four people at a time caught my attention; I tried to quickly ignore it and walked past. But then my temptation got the better of me and I pushed past the glass door. Bang opposite the entrance was the shop owner, who welcomed me with a broad smile. I stepped inside; all you can do is only pick and pack in that confined space. Because I stepped in I had to ask for something and I asked whatever came to my mind. Just as I expected they didn’t have what I wanted but then she spoke of the new varieties available and the rep immediately showed me the different materials. There was no cajoling, no pushing, and no sweet talk. It was their simple manner, unassuming style and genuine talk that ultimately made me buy not one but two pieces of material and I left the shop satisfied.

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Comparing these three incidents a few things came to my mind: Being a popular brand doesn’t guarantee that customer service representatives are properly trained to differentiate between being polite and being annoying. Sometimes they just fail to understand the customer’s requirement and end up sounding impolite and indifferent.

All brands, whether they are popular, multi-storied or small should ensure that their service reps are properly trained to handle customers.Because the easiest way to leave a lasting impression on your customer is to speak their language.


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