Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Are you being served?

Time to burn

A couple of weeks ago, SIA had some outdoor hard yakka work to do in the up market Sydney suburb of Bondi Beach. She was dressed accordingly.

The work got done & she realised that it was 5 pm and that a lot of the girly shops at the mall at Bondi Junction stayed open til 7-ish. It was a Friday.

Oh goody! After a long day, some window shopping was exactly what she needed. Heck, window shopping is what she needs after any kind of day.

Style: Suburban no effort

So off she toddled to have a wee look. In very ordinary jeans, black Melissa ballet flats, a Target red plaid shirt and a navy (Target, cashmere) sweater, oversize. Her hair was a mess, placed up in a messy bun. Not the intentionally messy bun style. Rather the I am too busy to fuss with my hair style which is code for the I am sloppy and I don’t take pride in my appearance style. The bag was a very non descript navy patent Jil Sander tote. It cost a bomb but its beauty was that it didn’t look that way – very subtle. Fingers were dolled up with silver rings. For all anyone knew, they could have been costume. She  would classify her look as “suburban no effort”.  

What happened

Over the next hour & a half, she walked into Target, David Jones, Mimco, Tigerlily, Trenery, Country Road, Zara &  Witchery. SIA had a camera in hand.  

The shopping centre was very quiet by the way. There were hardly any customers in sight.
You would have thought the service levels would have been amazing.

But from 5.15 pm to 7 pm, the only SA which acknowledged or spoke to SIA was the manager at the Witchery store. She greeted SIA warmly, answered SIA’s questions & provided insight to questions which SIA was asking about the merch. When she spoke to SIA she stopped what she was doing, looked at SIA & gave her full attention. Her service was perfect and that’s what I would expect.

Not a single employee in the other stores said “boo” to SIA. That was even after SIA was poking around in all these stores taking photos for at least 15 minutes in each store. No acknowledgement on entry, no request to assist, not even any queries about the photos. Nothing.

There was hardly anyone else around & it wasn’t as if everyone was rushing to close the shutters. They were just refilling stock, getting ready for the next day’s trade.

Are you being served?

Some would say their service as abominable. Really disgraceful. I suppose you could say that.  

For me, it was interesting. It wasn’t that their service was bad or that they snickered. Rather SIA was invisible. She didn’t exist. She didn’t hit their radar. Of course every SA knew SIA was there, but invisibly. 

I have heard the “invisible” comment from ladies in the past, most frequently in respect of plus size customers. I finally experienced it.

SIA can get all huffy & contact these stores & explain her experience in an effort to have their service levels improved. But why bother? High street stores are never going to provide perfect service to everyone irrespective of appearance. Even if they train the current lot of staff, within 18 months, half of them will have moved on.

Do I need fawning staff? No. Frankly, I don’t even need a hello on entry. I know they do that as it’s one of the best shoplifter deterrents there is.

But if I have specific questions to ask or stock to request & I get stupid answers or no answers, you can be sure that it won’t go unmentioned. 

Of course if SAs are rude and unprofessional, that's a different story. What we are talking about here are the pleasantries - the smiles, the airs & graces.  

But if I walk into a store, browsing, looking like I don’t care about me, why do I expect anyone else to care about me. Seriously, the responsibility for good service is my own.

It’s like relationships – don’t expect the other person to change. Change yourself. If you can’t or won’t, get out of that relationship.  

Don’t expect stores (or any service provider for that matter) to be lovely to you. Sure, they will do their job, but be super friendly? If you want that, look the part. Take responsibility for the level of service you receive. If you don’t look the part & you get great service, it’s a privilege not a right.

That means dressing deliberately with attention to your clothes & grooming. After all, studies show that your appearance is close to 60% of a first impression. That's well over what you say & your tone of voice. That isn’t a myth. It’s reality. It applies to everyone, plus size, petite and everyone in-between.

If I do happen to be in a mall with a non deliberate look, & I don’t get served with a smile, does it really matter? Does it mean I am less of a worthy human being? Absolutely not. But if you allow your self esteem to plummet, that’s your doing. It’s no one else’s fault but yours. You are in control of your own emotions & thoughts.

If you want great service, look like you deserve it. And you’ll get it. It may not be fair, but that's how it is. 


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