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Ali Shops Blog

Archive for the ‘customer service’ Category

Speaking For The Brand

Monday, August 8th, 2011

A shaggy, skater dude-type sales associate approached me as I browsed the new Superdry at the Mall of America. “Did you hear? Everything is 30 percent off,” he told me. “But I’m 100 percent on.”


Couple of minutes later, another sales guy, similar look, stopped me to see which tank top I was carrying. “Oooh, those are super soft,” he said, sounding as incongruous as I would selling fishing poles. Or is it rods? “I mean, I haven’t tried it on,” he continued, “But I’ve heard.”

Okay, I get it. Superdry has attitude.  I can’t help but wonder just how intentionally the sales staff was selected. Is it sort of like Hooters, where no applicant is discriminated, but golly gee, all those hired seem to fit a certain specific type (and measurements)? Did Superdry go out of its way to select smart alecks? Did the retailer tell associates to get extra chummy with customers and encourage banter beyond the usual, “Can I help you?”

Retailers are in a tough spot where service is concerned. Ignore me and I’ll complain. Hover, and I’ll get irritated. Compliment my selections, and I’ll assume you’re just gunning for a sale. Don’t comment, and I’ll question your expertise.

Whether or not you like the specific approach, at least give credit to those retailers that bother to have a strategy for sales associates. Trader Joe’s is a perfect example – it’s not by chance that every cashier that has ever rung me up wants to know my evening plans. Now, often, I want to reply “None of your business!” But I don’t, because I recognize they are making the effort to connect. And usually, by the time they’ve bagged my mountain of frozen enchiladas and dried fruit, I’m feeling a bit friendlier. My kids have stickers, my bags are neatly packed and I leave feeling upbeat.

If a store is going to arm its staff with a specific pitch line, the key is making sure it’s as productive as it is memorable. I didn’t challenge the Superdry guy with any questions that would have tested his “100 percent on” claim. I’d like to think he knows sizes, fit, stock and return policy as well as the closest bar. I have my doubts, but he gets leeway for originality.

Is there a sales pitch that amuses or irks you? I want to hear about it!

Designer Animal Crackers

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

I love a store that feeds my kid. Regular nosh stops include Len Druskin, StyledLife and Hot Mama. No pressure to those already so generous, but Melly at the Galleria has truly upped the ante with a treat perfectly fitting its Palm Beach aesthetic. Behold: Lilly Pulitzer animal crackers. Currently a gift with purchase.

Service with a smile (and toilet paper)

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Even if the new Belle Weather in LynLake carried nothing but lumps of coal, I’d still owe it a stellar review. I showed up Sunday, 10 minutes before opening, knocked on the door and unleashed my two young boys on unsuspecting new store owner Crystal Kopan. She smiled, even as they dumped their coats on the floor like they owned the place and spun card racks fast enough to see if they could set them into orbit. Now I know what you’re thinking: why doesn’t she teach those boys to behave. And believe me, we had conversations before, during and after this unfortunate store visit. But every child has his moments (ok, some more than others) and the two together is a lot more than one.

It was hardly the first (shopping experience, that is) for my guys, ages 6 and 2 – they’re seasoned pros on the boutique scene, but in their defense, a gift shop with dainty things is not so much their cup of tea, especially at lunch time. And in retrospect, I tend to be with one or the other when I go shopping – not both, to egg each other into craziness. Not to go all mommy blogger on you, but as a working mom, shopping is one of the things I can do – or delude myself into thinking I can do – with them (unlike interviewing and writing and radio show hosting). I’m a hopeless multi-tasker, so when we were driving past the brand new store last weekend, I had to stop.

Four minutes in, my big boy had to go. You know, go. Like, really bad. Crystal hesitantly pointed us to the bathroom with a warning that it was sort of crammed with stuff. So my younger guy busied himself with a tangle of display racks while the older one…well, settled in. Couldn’t be a quickie, of course. Some time later, when we reemerged, Crystal was still smiling and patiently carrying on a disjointed conversation with me about her retail outlook. She followed up with an email saying our visit was the highlight of her day.

Poor thing, must have been a pretty awful day. But what a good impression she made.

Outstanding exchange

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

“Have an outstanding day,” the Macy’s sales associate said after giving me a refund on a bed skirt.
It felt a bit over-the-top for a young woman who was leaning on the counter when I arrived and barely mumbled hello.  So I said thanks, but couldn’t resist asking:  “Did Macy’s tell you to say that?”
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