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Expectations of service

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
This afternoon I decided to study in a Starbucks in downtown Chappaqua, NY, an upscale NYC suburb.  (Un)fortunately there's a local boutique across the street from the cafe that I went to inspect on a "study break".  Their merchandise was nice, but nothing extraordinary other than a few ties and sweaters by Cifonelli and Gran Sasso (two smaller Italian makers that I like).  They carried suits by Zegna, Corneliani, and H Freeman, the latter being a first for me.  In the first five minutes I was asked if I needed any help and was subsequently offered assistance every 10 minutes thereafter. I grew slightly annoyed (Aside: I frequently try to repeat and memorize facts while walking around.  My quiet time "multitasking" just wasn't happening with the interruptions).  I just wanted to look at stuff on my own and didn't need a salesman to comment on the fit and look of each jacket I picked up.  Furthermore, the refrain of  "practically giving Zegna sportcoats away for $600" was especially tiresome since I had recently come across a Napoli Couture and an Isaia Napoli that I liked much more for <$850.  I refrained from making any comment, put on my signature scowl, and tried to enjoy the rest of my break. Maybe this is why I prefer sample sales.  I guess I'd rather apply the knowledge that I've gained from this forum and my own experiences rather than have some salesman lead me around by the retail leash.  I dunno, how does everyone else describe "good service"?
post #2 of 24
I like to think that I'm a good enough salesman to be able to tell when someone is just "browsing" or if they need constant attention, but keep in mind that some companies don't understand the fact that people *might* just be coming in to look. I have worked for places that demand (upon threat of termination) that I sell on average, one item for every person that enters the store. It sometimes seems unreasonable, but for a smaller shop, one customer who buys a few T-shirts, a half dozen socks, and a pair of shoes can make a daily item quota easily attainable. The easiest way to do that is to follow people around and "suggest" things that would compliment their attire, or the items they are looking at or seem interested in. It takes skill to do this without seeming like a total smarmy asshole. I've witnessed it both ways, and the bad way ain't pretty. On the other hand, there are also companies who offer "perks" which are a bonus on top of your base salary (many times it can be greater than you base salary) that you get for selling certain items. Items say; that the company has an overstock on, or has statisticly bad sales figures in. These are the people who try and sell you things you haven't shown an interest in at all, trying to convince you of the "added value" or the "bargain" or whatever tagline they happen to think is less confrontational at the time. Stores that operate on this principal are the scum of the earth, their salesmen are the type to insist that you need an extended warranty on your electronics, knowing damn well that statistically only 5% of the people will ever use it, whether the electronics are faulty or not. The other 95% of the dumbasses are just paying an extra $40 for the idea of security. Companies can get away with mistreating their customers and their employees because too many people are still suckers enough to purchase things from them. I don't know how many of you out there have ever worked sales, but for the most part - most salespeople I know feel bad treating you (the consumer) like cattle as much as you hate being treated like cattle. It's just their job, and after a while you either quit, or stop thinking about it. It amazes me the amount of people I deal with in retail sales, who have obviously never sold anything in their life and have no idea of what to expect when they walk into a store. In an ideal world we wouldn't need the "hard sell"... but here we are... So to answer your question; Good service (to me) is a centralized, well lit, well trained customer service desk. They make eye contact with you when you enter the store, and smile. At that point if you need help, you will approach the desk. If not, they will stay behind the desk until summoned. When summoned, they answer your questions without trying to *sell* you things. They will give informed *advice* if asked for it, which you are completely free to take or leave. When you are done choosing your products, they will quickly and efficiently ring up your purchases, offer you a coupon for your next visit, and give you the correct change. ...but we all know that this is just a dream. Because its all about the bottom line.
post #3 of 24
You probably were in Family Britches, which is hilarious because of its significance in my life, and also what the place says about the evolution of Chappaqua and style over my youth. First of all, my mother shopped for clothing for me almost exclusively in that shop. When they started out, they sold jeans, and clothes that went with jeans. I actually remember that they offered MTM suits by Southwick, don't ask me why because I certainly wasn't buying any (I think I bought a jacket at Syms though). Then, as Chappaqua became really chi chi (remember, this is the home of President Clinton now), they dumped the jeans and Southwick and carried Oxford MTM and RL. Their taste was always colorful, and they always assembled nice pairs of shirts and sweaters, which tought me a valuable fashion lesson. One, sweaters are the least useful part of any wardrobe so far as coordination is concerned, so make them neutral. Two, mom has many talents but fashion advice ain't one of them (please do not tell on me&#33. Chappaqua, for you rubes, has septic tanks in its houses not public water, which is why I ended up in Briarcliff (another chi chi community about ten minutes away that never quite rose to the heights Chappaqua seemed to). Regarding service, Family Britches service was always great, but that was for an ignoramus such as myself, so I can imagine their not making you happy if you want to be left alone. I say, be grateful, because there is much, much worse, I have described a few, like the shoe salesman who couldn't stop insulting me recently when I started this fashion odyssey with a shoe purchase, or the rude shoe salesmen at Boyds and their Albaladejos.
post #4 of 24
I say, be grateful, because there is much, much worse, I have described a few, like the shoe salesman who couldn't stop insulting me recently when I started this fashion odyssey with a shoe purchase, or the rude shoe salesmen at Boyds and their Albaladejos.
Hey: what did the shoe salesmen say to ya? l'm curious. Can ya spill it?
post #5 of 24
I asked for various Alden models and he was disparaging my requests one after the other. The put-downs came so fast and furious that I do not remember them, and I headed out the door and ended up buying a pair of Peals (AS) at Brooks Brothers.
post #6 of 24
wow, GREAT post by Tokyo Slim.
post #7 of 24
My expectations are different depending on the type of store and whether I'm browsing or buying. When I'm browsing at a major department store like Neiman's or Saks (and I almost never buy at places like Neiman's or Saks), I want to be left alone. I'm just seeing what they have, what's new, examining the quality, fit, and construction of items that I'm not familiar with, etc. The salesmen in those places have seen me often enough to know that they're not selling me anything, and they're more than happy just to live and let live. When I'm browsing at a small independent retailer, I typically want more service. I know and like particular salesmen at the two places that I typically go, I'm familiar with what they have in stock, and I mostly want them to show me what's new and tell me what they think about it -- I don't always agree with what they say, but what they say is almost always sensible. The reason that I do that with these guys is that I know them well enough to respect their opinions and their honesty; in other words, it only works well for me because I know the particular salesmen well. When I go a-browsing at one of these places, I try to go at times when I know they won't be busy. I get more attention that way, and I'm not preventing men whom I respect from earning their living. When I'm buying, I also want service, but it's mostly administrative at that point. I mostly buy from the aforementioned independent retailers, so I already know their stock. I usually go in and tell my salesman that I'd like Item X. I expect him to get the tailor and ring up the sale, and that's it.
post #8 of 24
wow, GREAT post by Tokyo Slim.
Definately a great post, and I like the central service desk idea. My own pet peeve is when I'll go into certain stores to see what they have, and a salesman will INSIST on steering me to my size.  Tell me where the 42L's are, then let me decide whether or not to go look at them.  Sometimes, I just want to see what's there. Another one is when they'll sneak up behind you, and pull a suit out to ask you what you think of "this one" . . . and this one, and this one . . . Also, while I greatly enjoy a knowledgeable salesman, those that don't know their stuff should curb their mouths and learn from their colleagues that do. In the past month, I've had one salesman tell me that Alden was a new company of questionable quality (he was pushing Cole Haan), and that Hugo Boss suits were entirely handmade.
post #9 of 24
Thread Starter 
Wow, great responses so far.  I really liked Tokyo's idea example of a central information desk.  I instantly thought of a concierge desk at an upscale hotel--fast, helpful service ONLY when requested. Dr B, You win the Golden Sock Award of the Day for correctly identifying Family Britches in my vignette.  Reasonably nice staff but the repeated intrusions and suggestions of Kenneth Cole after I stated that I wanted a canvassed jacket were annoying nonetheless. EDIT: RIDER, FIH, et. al. Check it out, free customer feedback from men who care about their clothing.
post #10 of 24
despite the fact that it carries some nice lines, i've never been much of a fan of family britches. norcal, next time you're in chappaqua, i would recommend studying in susan lawrence (assuming it's out-lived its creator) rather than in starbucks. your taste buds will thank you.
post #11 of 24
wow, GREAT post by Tokyo Slim.
Thanks. I was worried that I was rambling incoherently.
post #12 of 24
EDIT: RIDER, FIH, et. al. Check it out, free customer feedback from men who care about their clothing.
Well, I don't know what to think about this post. I think I know what he means, and agree to a point. But not totally. It would help to know which type of stores he is talking about. For commodity type items, or outlet type stores, I can see the point about central checkout, etc. However, you would be hard pressed to come into our shop and be able to find your way around without some sort of assistance if you have not been in before. Nor would I be interested in being the robot behind the counter offering assistance only when asked. I put too much effort, time and have too much pride in what I do to not take care of everyone that comes in the best way I can. Now, that does not mean we do not let customers look on their own, if they request to. We are pretty laid back here in that regard. We have plenty of customers who know the layout as well as we do and most times they simply want to hang out and talk about things with us. Fine. Also, we have NO salespeople (well, one - but he requested that and has a large personal book that he is busy with all day) who are paid straight commission, we do not pay 'spifs' (I actually have no problem with it, but our owner doesn't think he should have to 'bribe' employees to do their job) and, except for the couple of new hires at the new store, I am the least tenured employee at 9 years. Fully half of our staff, including salespeople, tailors and office personnel, have been with Franco since day 1 - 30some years now. We know just about everybody who comes in. And when we don't, they usually are referred to us by a collegue or friend. Finally, our store (main store) is no where near any kind of shopping district, so people are just 'browsing' rather infrequently. For an Independent retailer to survive, we must be better than our corporate competition. We must overcome their bigger advertising budget, their taxpayer paid-for beatiful stores, in locations that traffic patterns are directed to, their 'partnered' merchandise, where the manufacturers have given them discount money and buy back slow moving merchandise, their economies of scale, etc. We do this by offering better service and unique merchandise at competitive prices. And we are flexable enough to give customers what they want, within reason. If this means leaving a customer alone to look through the merchandise, we do it. But, if you come into my shop, tell me to leave you alone, proceed to pick up a Gravati shoe (for example) and tell me you want a 10D, I'm not going to get it until I see your foot on the scale, determine if thats the best last for you, and if not, you are going to see what is. If that does'nt suit you, go somewhere else - I would rather not do business with you. Also, don't think for a second that I am not going to try to sell you something else. I don't push, but I will show you lots of shoes. Last time I checked, the government has not sent me a food coupon to feed my family of 5 with due to my ability to 'leave people alone'. My responsibility is to do everything I can on a daily basis to take care of my family. That's the true bottom line. And trust me, I'm not standing behind a counter waiting for someone to click their fingers at me when they are ready to be served. My family deserves more effort than that.
post #13 of 24
For anyone going to Louis Boston, I highly recommend "Luke", one of the younger sales consultants. He has always been friendly and helpful, even when I asked to see things I told him explicitly were out of my price range. He was even unfailingly polite and friendly and willing to chat about Louis Boston's restructuring of their lines (they will no longer carry Rogan jeans) yesterday, the first day of their semi-annual sale, to entertain my ideas about new lines I thought that Louis should carry (Baltazar belts, Andrew Dibben, and Sartoria Attolini - very diverse, I know) and to show me shoes I told him were way, way out of my price range (I really can't spend $2500 on a pair of shoes, even if they were sewn by the teeth of a master cobbler). A real class act in a field dominated by pushy, smarmy a**holes.
post #14 of 24
EDIT: RIDER, FIH, et. al.  Check it out, free customer feedback from men who care about their clothing.
Gimme a few days on that. In Italy now and pretty busy, but definately want to really read this and comment in turn. Off the cuff there is a big difference between knowledgable customers as yourselves vs, totally clueless (i.e. 90+% of the populus), but I reserve the right to comment next week. Regards from Milan
post #15 of 24
What I hate are ignorant salespeople who try to browbeat you. I generally go into a store having researched what it is I want. If I don't see it, I will just browse. And I really don't need either some smarmy kid telling me that trucker caps the the new thing, or some older gentleman (and I use the term generously) looking at my track jackets and sneakers and assuming that I don't know a damn thing about, well, anything. Could be that I *chose* to wear sneakers, and that I can tell a damn Blake constructed shoe if I really felt like it. If I want advice, I'll ask for it, don't worry. But if I want to browse, don't hassle me. And if you don't think that you are going to make a sale off of me, I would like to feel that I am still welcome. After all, I might buy something next time. But if you are going to guilt or push me into buying something, you are certainly not going to make a sale, and I am sure going to tell all my friends (a great number of whom spend lots on clothing, shoes, and accessories) not to patronize your store. I'm concerned about having a good time window shopping and perhaps buying a nice addition to my wardrobe, not in giving you a sale, although if you are a good salesman (see above), I certainly may do so, and willingly.
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