Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Service Takes More Than Smiling

I freely admit that I have felt a little rageful lately. I could blame the weather as I did yesterday or simply admit that if my default position is rage, it will, from time to time, escape my well-meaning oppression. In preparation to detox once again, I feel it necessary to give a little vent to smooth the way. And I will not be talking about cellular communications.

I think I am a little more sensitive than the average person when it comes to service because my brother is in the service industry. I have seen him on more than one occasion chastise an employee for minor infractions but in a jocular way. The result is, through his efforts and the tone he sets for his workplace, a finely oiled machine of good service. So it's not like it's a difficult thing to accomplish. I would venture to say that, for the most part, restaurant service in Manhattan is of a high standard. This is necessary since the diner in Manhattan has literally thousands of choices and restaurants would like you to choose them again and again. I feel, however, that all places of business that rely on people paying them for goods and services (so all businesses) should make it a point to encourage lots and lots of repeat business yet, sadly, few do.

Smaller boutiques suffer the most. Whether due to inexperienced employees and owners (in the case of independent vanity shops) or due to the misguided notion that cache is doled out based on how poorly one can treat one's customers (in the case of high-fashion), there are a wealth of small stores that simply do not know how to make money more than once. The disclaimer I would like to make here is personal: I have extreme difficulty, after repeated polite suggestions, saying a definitive 'no' without it being, well, rageful; if I have demonstrated through words and body language in a polite society way that I am not interested in something, I find it very difficult to, when pressed, not say something to the effect of, "you retarded cow, I said no about a million times. Are you effing deaf?" This is my problem and I continue to work on it. In the meantime, however, as I have been searching mostly in vain for a knitting store I wish to return to, I offer some advice to current and future owners of craft stores:

1. Your genius pattern designer who looks and acts like one of Nikita Kruschev's mistresses? She should be in the back not speaking to or looking at anyone. She's scary. And pokes at newcomers' projects with a finger that says, "in Communist Russia you would be shot for making such abomination." This does not inspire repeat business, nor does it make me think, "gee, she's right. I'm total crap. I'm so glad I know this now."

2. New customers should not be immediately encouraged to buy your most expensive product in place of the type of product they inquired about. When I walk into Tiffany's and express an interest in a, say, $500 silver bracelet, the salesperson NEVER suggests that, instead, I might be interested in the diamond and ruby encrusted gauntlet for $72,000. Assume until told differently that I did not come into your store to purchase beaded endangered yeti cashmere for the tank top I intend to wear to the beach. In fact, let's go one step further: only I should mention the word cashmere; when you suggest it, you seem like a money-grubbing [expletive deleted].

3. It's nice that you have a coterie of loyal customers. I like walking into a shop and seeing people happily knitting away at the table. But if those people look up at newcomers and make faces like they just stepped in shit, it doesn't help new customers feel welcome. Similarly, if you are sitting with your existing customers and don't so much as raise your head and smile when I walk in, it is highly unlikely I will become one of your loyal customers.

4. If you can't satisfactorily help me make the plain black sweater I'm interested in, it is not logical to assume that instead I would like to make a fuchsia, orange, and green horizontal striped sweater instead. When you are explicitly told this information, do not view it as a challenge: it's not that I want you to convince me that I really, deep down, want that monstrosity, it's that I want a black sweater. This is an instance where going to any department store would be instructive. When there are no more size 12 black silk v-neck dresses, the salesperson, if he or she is being helpful, will generally steer me to other a) black, b) silk, or c) v-neck dresses, and generally in a similar or similarly neutral hue; he or she will not, in the absence of the size 12 v-neck, lead me to the pink victorian lace high-necked ruffle and pleats ballgown. Since clearly that wouldn't be a good replacement for the black v-neck.

5. I might be coerced, cajoled, shamed, etc. into spending some money at your store even when you have nothing I want. This is clearly my fault for succumbing. However, you can be absolutely positive that it will be the last $60 I ever spend at your store. And I'll probably tell other people about the crappy experience you provided.

Which is why I would now like to say something nice: Katonah Yarn Company in, you guessed it, Katonah, is awesome. I went in there, they didn't have what I needed, I ended up buying a pair of needles and that was it, and they were super super nice about it. Even though it is 30-35 minutes from my house, it is the only yarn store I've been to that I am eager to return to, and will buy yarn from (even at the markup - internet is bad for yarn stores, the undercutting is amazing). The people were nice without following you around suggesting you buy everything your eye lights upon, it was suggested to me that I look online for a yarn they didn't carry before getting them to special order it for me, because it would be cheaper that way. The women in the shop were friendly in an authentic way, and it authentically made me want to spend money there. And if I ever decided to make the beaded endangered yak cashmere shrug, I'll source the material through them!

No comments:

Post a Comment