Sale after sale after sale is all I think of when I think back to my time in retail. I’ve worked for a number of retail brands and no matter how different the clientele or coworkers are, it’s always “the same shit, different day”. Constantly picking up after other people with no official “Thank You” for it. Negatives aside, I am very grateful for my time in retail – I met some amazing people and learnt a few lessons along the way that I thought I could share with you; (good & bad)
1. NEVER tell people to calm down.
Trust me. It’s literally the first rule of good customer service and good common sense. No matter how stupid, ignorant and rude they’re being about a tag accidentally left on a top or just missing a top selling on a promotion price that would have saved them two measly euro on something cheap af anyway. Even worse when they are screaming at you saying “just let me speak to your supervisor” and you want to shout that your supervisor will tell them exactly what you told them. But it’s a good lesson, even for work outside of retail. People are going to overreact over just about anything. They’ll give out if you look at them wrong. I’m sure all my fellow retailers will tell you, it is easier to be calm instead of nasty. In situations like this you have to be understanding and let them know that you’re on their side. Let the customer speak and portray their anger and let them know you are here to help and not create more hassle. I know it is easier said then done but it will really help you out a lot if you just agree.
2. Always hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
There is nothing better than being on a late shift and hearing managers say, “We will definitely be getting out of here early tonight.” High hopes all day, you are cleaning away and a group of 10-15 teenagers come in and pull the place apart. You are about to flip but and tell them all to get out and leave but whatever happens, just be ready for it. Clean the less messy sections first and then the team can all clean the dreaded sale area together! If things go well, you’re nothing but excited. If things go poorly, you’ve already got a game plan of who is gonna be where – 15 minute blitz clean can be done if the team is in it together.
3. You will hear something stupid at least once a day. Be careful what you say to others.
I would be a millionaire if I had a euro for every-time someone said “The price isn’t on this that means it’s free, right? Hahahaha” — No. It’s not. It’s not free and it’s not funny. I know people can be so frustrating sometimes but be very aware of what you’re saying to certain people. The most annoying thing is hearing the same thing from a hundred different people. Don’t ever speak down on someone or it will come back on you. Treat everyone how you would like to be treated and trust me it will pay off. People will come back and help you out.
4. Don’t choose a fight
Getting cheeky with your manager or colleague over something petty like product placement of a top or the best way to pack a bag isn’t worth anyone’s time or attention. Unless someone is doing something that will cause double-jobbing or nothing at all. Just agree, I know it is so hard to bite your tongue sometimes but it creates a better work morale for everyone involved. Not to mention, you earn brownie points for having an agreeable attitude. If you feel a conversation getting heated, it’ll cost you nothing to finish the conversation before something starts, then everything will be forgotten about. Fighting over nothing in work is seriously draining and brings down the mood of the whole shop. You are working with these people for a good 40 hours a week, just grin and bear it!
People have lives to live! There’s nothing more annoying than looking forward to the end of your shift only to find out that the person covering you is late – yet again! If you are meant to be somewhere at a certain time. Be there. You could be letting your team-mates down by always being late and you will begin to look bad. Not to mention people won’t help you in times of need if you keep disappointing them again and again.
6. There’s always something nice to say.
Compliment people more. It makes people happier and they warm up to you. I have made so many personal clients and customers in my time in retail for actually getting to know them, not because I had to because I genuinely enjoyed talking to them and getting to know them. The nicer you are the more people will help you. Even with something small like putting a top back in the right place after trying it on. Being negative in retail is draining – you’ll end up getting yourself in trouble with grumpy customers. When you walk into a shop the staff are there to assist you and help you. Not to mention that by constantly looking for some positive thing about a person, you’re less inclined to be negative yourself. It’s a great way to put you in the right frame of mind for dealing with almost anyone. Don’t say anything you don’t mean. Even a “hope you have an amazing day” will get you far.
7. People might not automatically empathise.
Before I worked retail, I didn’t give any of my behaviour in-store much thought. After my experience in retail (especially at Christmas) has definitely made a massive impact in how I shop today. I try and shop as if I wasn’t even there. If I pull a pair of jeans off a hanger to look at them and decide I don’t want them. I hang it back up and leave it the way I found it. You wouldn’t walk into your friend’s house pick up one of her tops, then just throw it on the floor – so why do it in a shop? It’s a small action by a customer that creates the domino effect, if one person does it – others will too. Retail employees are not hired just to clean up after you. They usually have many other things to deal with. When I first started retail people used to come out of the fitting room and hand me 6 empty hangers and 6 garments in a ball for me to clean up. After about 6 months in – I refused to do it. I was always polite in the way I spoke to someone and asked very nicely if they could help me hang these as I had such a volume of clothes in the fitting room because customers tried on 20 things, bought two, and left the rest on the floor. So, if ever you’re in a discussion and someone isn’t quite understanding where you’re coming from, take a step back and explain how built up the work gets over the smallest things (DO NOT BE CHEEKY OR THIS WILL BACKFIRE ON YOU) People don’t realise how they are being sometimes.
8. People can have a blind eye
“Hey, where can I find your jeans?” “Literally right behind you.” Or when people hand you their credit card even though there’s a card reader right beside their hand. Whether they looked and missed it or didn’t bother looking at all, you’ll often find yourself in a situation where you want to shout! But sometimes people just don’t notice the obvious. They are asking you for help, point it out nicely, don’t make them feel stupid.
9. Have perspective.
It’s very easy to be angsty at work when your co-worker is being lazy and won’t help you out. Or when a customer is arguing with you over something so small you could explode. But remember, people have bad days just like you do. Someone could have received bad news, or has had something bad happen to them. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes every now and again. You are not saving lives, you will go home at the end of the day and a new day will begin. Don’t always assume someone is being a dick just ’cause. A lot of the time if you kill them with kindness the rude customer will apologise to you.
It’s the most versatile trait to have. You can’t rush a customer without being rude. If you don’t have patience you will just be in a tense mood all day. There is no point in being impatient with customers in the fitting room taking too long, or a woman in the queue taking her sweet time. The more impatient you are, the worse your mood for the day. Just keep moving and keep doing your own thing. Stay on top of what you have to do
11. The customer is NOT always right
Anyone who has or currently works in retail will understand this. Usually, the customer couldn’t be more wrong. I could probably write a book about the things I have come across. The usual tales of customers telling me that “there were definitely belts here last week” even though we never once stocked belts or telling me that the “Last Chance To Buy Rail” is sale and that it is discounted, or when something is apparently on sale online but not in our shop? (strange don’t know how this one even happens?) Don’t let people talk down on you and make sure you don’t let someone speak to you badly. You are not paid to be called horrible names and there have been many times I have walked away from a situation where I felt victimised and red with anger. I have often thought Aston Kutcher was about to pop out of the curtains to tell me I was on a reality TV show, but no just another crazy person. I have grown a backbone from working in retail I can tell ya!
12. People won’t always want to talk to you
Read people! If someone doesn’t say anything back when you have greeted them, leave them to it. They will come to you if they need something. I am a very talkative chatty person & could talk to a wall but it takes me a while sometimes to realise not everyone is like that. Not everyone will want to talk to you & that’s okay.
13. Nice customers get sale prices that technically ended an hour ago. Horrible customers don’t.
The nicer you are to the sales assistant, the more you get. Just sayin’
Hope you enjoyed the read, if you found this helpful please share on Facebook!
Lots of love,
Jade Autumn xx