Many of us spend some time in our lives working in a retail environment. While fashion and technology changes in retail, something that remains the same is the phrases spoken by the customers we serve on a daily basis.
“It must be free” when an item doesn’t scan
This is probably the most common phrase you will hear when you work in retail. Quite you’re trying to complete a sale, an item will not scan. Maybe there is no code on the product, or perhaps the till just can’t be bothered to do its job.
While you would expect this to be highly inconvenient for the customer, it appears to have the opposite effect. You can almost sense the excitement as the customer prepares to deal with this situation in the only way they know how….
“If it doesn’t scan it must be free!”
“Do you work here?”
It seems the more obvious you make it, the more you get asked this question. You could be wearing flashing lights saying “I work here” and you would still get asked this question–trust me, I’m not exaggerating here!
You could be changing mannequins, climbing ladders, and pushing floor fixtures across the shop, however, you still been asked: “Do you work here?”
On the other hand, walk into any shop wearing black and suddenly everyone assumes you’re employed by the company. Before you know it you’re helping Susan find the carrots on aisle 12.
“Do you have this out the back?”
Sales assistants don’t mind being asked this question. In fact, if they can track down the item you want, it’s a pretty good feeling.
The common misconception, however, is that the equivalent of a second shop lies behind those doors leading to the stockroom. If customers had access to this suspected treasure trove, what they would actually find is a few racks of stock that couldn’t go out as it’s already overfilled on the shop floor.
“When will you be getting this in stock?”
What exactly is a sales assistant expected to do in this situation? Produce a crystal ball? Call up the suppliers? Produce a diary?
The honest answer is sales assistants don’t have a clue when stock will be arriving in store.
“I want to speak to a manager.”
If you don’t abide by the rule “the customer is always right”, it can often result in an irate customer demanding to speak to the manager.
Waiting for the manager to arrive in this situation is often an awkward moment that feels as though it lasts forever. You fear speaking to the customer will only aggravate them further. So you make your best efforts to avoid eye contact and stand in silence until help arrives.
“I followed the instructions…”
Of course, as mentioned before, “the customer is always right”. So when a customer approaches you to return a faulty item, despite following the instructions stated on the product, you have to believe them.
“The picture on the cup just shredded as it stood in the cupboard. It never once went through the dishwasher.”
As you process the transaction, you consider which co-worker you will be re-telling their story to first.
“I’m never coming back here!”
I imagine everyone who has ever worked in customer service would have been told this. The phrase is so overused it has almost lost all meaning.
Above are my experiences of working in retail. What phrases do you hear regularly in your customer service role? We’d love to hear them in the comments.