Am I Invisible?: Yes I Am, No I’m Not

A few days ago, due to carpooling with my husband, I found myself with a rare three hours in a large shopping centre. Three hours of browsing and admiring all the spring pretty.

It didn’t take long to notice that I was received differently in different shops. I couldn’t find a correlation between upscale and budget stores. Here are the different things that happened to me:

Customer, What Customer?

  • I stood for a while looking upward at two dresses. The racks were far beyond my reach. An assistant was folding sweaters not far from me. Not once did she look around to see if anyone needed her help. Folding was her task for the moment and that is all she was doing. I returned to the store an hour later, still folding, still no recognition.
  • In another shop the clerk never looked up from the computer when I entered. No greeting, no “May I help you?”
  • Stopping partway through my browsing expedition for a cup of tea (browsing is thirsty work) I felt as though I had interrupted the personal conversation of two employees in the coffee shop.
  • I thought I had found the perfect sized pan for my handy toaster oven. I couldn’t see a price anywhere on the pan. I jokingly asked the clerk, who I believe was the owner, if I just couldn’t see straight that day. He informed me the pans were “just in” and “I would have to look the price up.”  He then took a guess at the price. Do you think I purchased it?

Customer, Nice To See You!

  • I was greeted with a friendly “Good morning” even though the clerk was on the telephone and checking the computer. I felt I was as important as the unseen person on the telephone.
  • In another coffee shop for another cup of tea (browsing is VERY thirsty work) the unique qualities of all the teas available were voluntarily explained to me.
  • While eyeing a lovely, but safe, black jacket, I heard “Madam, I urge you to try this colour. I think you will be surprised how well it will suit you.”  I did. It did.
  • In a skin care shop a clerk asked if I would like to try their latest calming tea. There was a fresh pot made. You’ve sensed a tea theme here?  Of course I said “Yes, please”. His embarrassment when he found the carafe empty. He then offered to package up a sample of loose tea for me to take home.

All of these incidents happened in one day. Why did some sales assistants see me and why was I invisible to others?  I can only think of one answer – training. No business can afford to eliminate or skimp on staff training. The return on staff training is many fold.

Any guesses as to where I spent my money that day?

About etiquetteottawa

Founder and Owner of the Protocol School Of Ottawa
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