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How (Not) To Screw Up Retail Therapy

Volumes have been written about customer experience, so I’m nowhere near sharing my inexpert opinion about it. However, what can KILL the assumed pleasure of customer experience is the ubiquitous, in-your-face, cringeworthy “How-can-I-help-you?” greeting they assault you with as soon as you step into a shop. And actually, this, in my view, is what distinguishes a shop from a Shop... 

Chanel boutique

 I have grown to be so intimidated by this “act of courtesy” that I often find myself helplessly baffled every time I think of entering a shop. In all honesty, I really don’t know how a shop assistant COULD help me...  Ok, ok – we are all grown-up and rather educated enough to know that this is what they are trained to do, and probably it won’t change too soon, but if I were the one who trains personnel, I’d somehow try to sensitize them as to the time that should be given a customer to simply get acclimatized in a shop… ;)

 Anyway, when a shop-assistant dashes up to me with gay abandon and blesses me with his or her attention expressed in the question above, now and then I find myself on the verge of blurting out something like: “Financially?”  or… - depending on how lugubrious my mood is – “My life sucks so much that hardly anyone could help me🙊”... On second thought, I decide to get rid of the annoying pesterer with a curt “thank you”.

 The problem is that when I enter a shop - in 99.99% of cases (discaimer: the careful reader must have noticed my tendency to exaggerate 🙈) - I really have no clue about what I need there and my primary intention as a customer is to merely become familiar with the assortment of that shop at least. That’s why can-I-help-you’ing is not only irrelevant and stress-inducing but also somewhat rude to me. I do understand that it may serve as a certain icebreaker or an opening line to start a conversation, but why not apply something that Shops (not shops) do?

 They welcome you at the door with a sincere (!and I mean it!) yet humble smile and immediately thank you for paying them a visit followed by a polite offer of something to drink (which I welcome with the casual “Moët will do...” 💅😈😂)

Shopping experience

while having a leisurely chat with you interspersed with compliments on how you look or what you are wearing. In most cases, soon after that,  you are left alone to “adapt”, but often it’s not necessary as the skillful assistant involves you in interaction with them so adroitly that you begin to feel as if you were shopping with a friend. 😉

Actually, in my shopping experince – no matter how meager it has been so far – I’ve enjoyed this kind of assistance more than immensely! Moreover, shopping at such places very often resulted in meeting the other customers and even hitting it off with them. Never will I forget an amicable chinwag with an American couple at the Chanel boutique in Paris in Rue Cambon! We were so excited about our purchases (vanity aside!) that the urge to share the joy with a total stranger turned the situation into a social interaction which resulted in an inception of a friendship. We were drinking champagne, laughing and chatting as if we’d known one another for a long time – all that while being serviced by the Chanel staff in a highly professional manner. And this is what I do like about customer experience - the feeling of being special (even if you are not )! Among other things, of course... 😜

 And what do you find annoying /  pleasurable when you go shopping?

Andris Stern