I wholly loathe bad customer service, yet many places of business operate in it every single day. Perhaps it’s just me remembering the times when I longed for my own business, when I could see it in my mind; the aesthetic, the details. It was designed long before it materialized. I remember the days when I worked for other companies and was overlooked, poorly treated as an employee, and unimpressed with my management, as clearly they couldn't care less about the success of the business we were in. It was miserable. But I had to endure it.. a girl’s gotta work.

If I had a business of my own, I would never want my guests customer to feel as if I were doing a less than stellar job. What? Offend my bread and butter? Never! After all I’d been through, after all the times I’d gotten fired for speaking up too much or too soon or both, after all the insubordinate employees I had to tolerate? I’d be greeting every single one, building relationships, gaining influence, using my gifts and talents in the community.

How dare a person not greet a client when they walk in their door. That’s the first thing taught in “Retail 101”. How dare a business argue with a client, not go the extra mile, use sarcasm, show a complete lack of empathy or care of their client’s continued business. How dare they!

Customer service needs to be retaught and revamped as clearly there’s a misconstrued concept of what it is. When a client does you the honor of patronizing your business, in my opinion, that should be a relationship that one would begin to nurture as they would a garden. Plant your seeds of loyalty, honesty and reliability to begin with. Tend to that client, grow and enrich that relationship, oversee it as it produces fruit. It’s incredibly foolish to stunt the growth of your business by essentially splashing bleach on your work by disrespecting your clients or losing your humility and forgetting the feeling of your 1st sale, or when you closed that deal.

The euphoria and thankfulness you felt during those successful events were unmatched. Have you forgotten?

There are 2 instances I’ll never forget. The 1st instance is the day I walked into a neighbor’s business to get some work done to our interior. A service. When I came in, she peeked from around the corner and gave a “Can I help you?” look. A LOOK. No words. I said hello and asked if she worked there, knowing that she did. She said yes but advised that she was ‘in the middle of something’. Not “I’ll be right with you, have a look around”, not “Hello, welcome in!”. Nothing but basically a whaddya want.

I was livid. Oh, not solely because of how I was treated- I have thicker skin than that. I was livid because all I could do was think that THIS was her level of service! And as the owner (I looked it up), how many times has she treated other customers so nonchalantly? It was horrible. Once she discovered who I was, all of a sudden she was now apologetic and offered a “neighborly discount”. As if.

The 2nd instance is when we retained a service to showcase our newly arrived collections. The first couple of months were great. Once we even enjoyed lunch over edits. But after a while, and out of the blue, I noticed the communication becoming sour and off-putting. Really???

So, okay. This was a paid monthly service that we probably would've used for years to come, yet the business thought it was a good idea to advise us, sarcastically, that we weren't the only monthly clients they had. Let's just unpack this for a minute. Sure, maybe we aren't the only monthly clients you have. But every client wants to feel like they are!!! The smallest bit of special goes a long way. And did you really think it was a good idea to actually tell that to an existing client? Do you not know the power of referral business? Have you thought about how many NEW clients that you potentially just lost? Like seriously. Still shaking my head at the sheer folly.

Needless to say, although this was a new business we wanted to support, (and by the way, created great work) the relationship had to end, solely because the communication and- there's that word again- 'service' was greatly lacking in etiquette and tact, and had lost all traces of decency. As a service-driven person, it's unbearable to associate with another business of that caliber- but we CAN help by training and educating, and I can be a great example in my own little corner of the service industry.

I'll end with a quote, and I never thought I'd quote my mom; but she always says, "you catch more bees with honey than you do with vinegar". Translation: Be sweet. Sweet words will get you more results than being unpleasant ever will.

We need to make customer service the non-negotiable it used to be.

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Hello Hello Women Boutique Owners! Are you ensuring that you're making the MEN that come into your shop feel welcomed? Across many years of retail, I've found that men are by far the easiest guests to convert and the easiest to build a client relationship with. Why? Because 8 times out of 10, they're in a rush and are in dire need of help, they're buying for someone else and really don't want to spend too much time on that task, or my favorite- they simply like an item so much that they want 5 of them!

But oftentimes when men walk into a ladies boutique, they are shunned, ignored, not greeted, not taken seriously, and not paid attention to. Wrong. Many times I have had male clients visit my shop and tell me horror stories of their visits in other shops. They then end up purchasing their significant other a gift or 2 from us, and what's better, they revisit. All because they felt (key word) comfortable.

It's wise to also keep in mind the men that come in WITH their ladies. Are you engaging in a respectful conversation with him while the lady is in the fitting room? Are you abreast on current affairs (I.e. climate control, events in town, appropriate events in the news)? These are all things that your male client will be comfortable engaging with you on.

Please also be mindful not to judge! Sometimes a gentleman may want to shop after work with his work gear on. Ummm, he's coming from work! Clearly he can shop, you may want to help him. And even if he doesn't shop, get into the practice of building a client relationship with everyone that enters your door. Get their information, follow up with them, make sure they have your business card. Doing your job the right way, that client will remember you and your elevated service, and they will return.

Take my word for it...building your male clientele can be a wonderful and rewarding part of your business.

So remember today! Men Are Welcome!

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It's not about the sale!!! It's never about the sale. It's all about relationship building. When people enter your shop they do not want to feel like all you want to do is sell them something. Don't be that place. A woman wants to feel as if she's greeted by a trusted adviser, a person who's going to tell them the truth regardless of if they buy, and also a person who'll keep in touch even if they just came in and had a great chat. To me, you have to really just love being around clothing, enjoy sharing your product knowledge, and genuinely like meeting new people. In retail, you either love it or hate it. There's no in-between. There should be times set aside for letter writing (I'm old-school), a handwritten thank you note goes a long way, there should be calculated times of the day that a client is contacted if something that's her style comes in (no one wants to be called/texted at 11 at night or 5 in the morning), there's an etiquette involved! And finally, during the dance of the sale, one should be looking to discover pertinent things about the client; when her anniversary is, what she's doing in your town, what shows or restaurants she's been to. These will all give you talking points next time you meet! A most important note would be never to judge a potential client. Just yesterday I had a gentleman enter the boutique, I'm assuming he was a plumber or in flooring, looking for some gifts for his girlfriend. He mentioned that he'd been judged by his appearance at other places. A few items in his shopping bag later, he was thankful of how comfortable he was made to feel and I'm 100% sure he and his girlfriend are both new customers.

Until Next Time!


#westlondonbtq #retailer #neworleansboutique #magazinestreet #bespecial

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