Especially for me, in a shop, trying to sell things. I am a people-watcher. No, it’s not some odd Sci-Fi name I gave my kind. I just find it intresting to look at people; their actions, reactions, how they speak, why they speak, what they do when they talk to others, the way they talk to others, I find it interesting.
I can tell things about a person by the objects they buy in the cookware shop I work in. The colour of the dinner service they buy tells me a lot about their personalities. There are different personality profiles for each product too; either personality A or personality B.
For example; there is a Denby dinner service in store with blue blossom pattern on pale cream china. It’s modern as it’s a design from the Monsoon Collection but there are two people who buy this. The Fussies. The Romantics. Let me explain.
The Fussies are an older client who grew up on floral patterns and feel comfortable living with them, enjoying the modernist type but feeling safe enough in the old ‘floral’ genre to buy a whole dinner service. The Romantics are younger, maybe even my age, who are as the name directs, romantics. The soft floaty floral is easy on the eye, nothing too striking but a little different than a plain white set. If we didn’t have the floral blue set, these customers would buy plain white. The fact that this set is blue also means something to me. Calm, sensible people; neither type wanting to draw attention to themselves but with a bit of imagination showing in their product choice. They don’t take risks, they don’t shout, they don’t complain. They only buy something if they were looking for it. They do not buy things on the spur of the moment.
Sometimes you can see these customers as soon as they walk in.
The customers that walk to the back of the shop are more difficult. Le Creuset customers. I’ve titled this post ‘Men & Women’ because on the sales from the more expensive back of the shop one of the pair is difficult. Sales is a juggling act, fact, opinion and imagination bundled up in a eloquent pitch to get them to part with money.
Hey, it’s my job.
So when I see a couple looking at a product, I give myself a moment to work out the dynamic. Who’s in charge? Who’s mind is elsewhere? Who wants to be any where else right now? Who is in a bad mood? Who is opinionated? Who is clueless? These questions help me tailor my pitch. Guys want to know fact, product detail, technical points, the bits that to be quite honest don’t mean diddly squat unless you put them in context, which some of these guys really can’t grasp. Why yes, cast iron is wonderful stuff and the goose pot is an incredibly large pot designed, yeah, you got it, to fit a goose inside. Yes you can use it on the hob and in the oven and what not and who-ja-ma-wot-sit but really, are you ever going to cook a curry THAT BIG? Or, more directly, A GOOSE? Or seriously, is your oven EVEN BIG ENOUGH?
‘How you getting on there? You okay?’ I ask them. These men turn and look at me like I’m a cockroach. ‘I’m fine.’ is the answer when you know fine well they are most definitely not, in more ways than one. Lo-and-behold, twenty seconds later, out the corner of your eye, when you are stood no further than six feet away, in plain sight of these sexist, bigots they catch your manager walking past and grab them to ask about ‘the product details’. Your manager is male. Hmm, get that. I’m a girl so despite my thorough training and years of experience in sales, my love of cookware and kitchen products and the fact I am much more informed than my manager means nothing. You got it. The first thing they care to notice is the fact I’m a girl. A girl that looks under 25. I mustn’t have a clue.
Then there’s the wives/girlfriends/what ever that make me laugh. Some get angry with their men for looking at goose pots and asking me questions about stainless steel verses toughened non-stick. The women who cling to their men-folk like I’m going to jump on them and take them down. The women who are so under the thumb it makes me wince to hear the way their men talk to them. The women who are snappish and angry at me cause they have to replace something they broke. I get them all. Sometimes they make you laugh. Sometimes they ruin your day.
I had a customer throw a hissy fit because I wouldn’t use a whole damn sheet (almost 3 ft) of bubble wrap to wrap a mug for him to get home. ‘What happens if it gets broken on the way home?!’ he screeched at me. I told him he’d have to throw the mug at the ground to break it through the already requested eight sheets of tissue paper (standard wrapping in store is 3-4 sheets) and if he did manage to break it it would be like any other product broken from misuse. Mugs aren’t supposed to be thrown at the floor or dropped. They will break. Alas, he did not take this lightly. So I set my male college on him. Luckily he was in the same frame of mind as I. The customer left after two minutes.
There was one woman who wanted us to package every single piece of a twelve place setting dinner service (12x soup bowls, 12x dinner plates, 12x salad plates, 12x tea plates, 12x tea cups with accompanying 12 saucers, 12x mugs with teapot, platter and serving bowls x2) to send abroad. Tissue was not good enough. She demanded boxes and crates and tissue and bubble wrap and sellotape and an address label and personal shipping. Well, not quite the last two but it makes me mad. If you are silly enough to buy that amount to ship to South Africa it is a downright CHEEK to ask the staff in a store to package it up for you. Our job is to wrap only enough for a customer to take home. NOT SHIP ABROAD. That’s like going into a store, buying a t-shirt and asking the poor person at the till to wrap it in birthday paper and write out the card!
What the hell people? Get a grip. You want to send it abroad? You pay the price for packaging, not the bloody company you buy the products from. There is no service like that in our store. DIY people. That’s life. The customer is NOT always right. In fact, they are wrong more often than anything else.
I must admit there are some lovely people out there; beautiful, wonderful, kind, generous, funny people who have the time to be kind and polite, patient and humorous. I just wonder how these demanding, angry, aggressive, possessive folks manage to function in the world. Surely they struggle with all that angst? I just think to myself, if they can be that rude and obnoxious to a complete stranger and not think twice, imagine how they are with their families? I shudder to imagine.
At least kindness and compassion get returned to those who give it. Hopefully anger does too; that way, those people might understand how miserable they make others.