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A Victoria’s Vent

March 9, 2011

During my lifetime I have held my fair share of jobs in the customer service industry.  As far back as high school, when I did a brief stint as a steak house waitress, I knew what I would consider good customer service.  Time passed and I began to add more customer service jobs to my resume.  First front desk receptionist, than retail sales associate and of course customer complaint phone answerer.  Needless to say my description of good customer quickly evolved.

After working in a retail job for over four years, I definitely have a soft spot in my heart for anyone who deals with shoppers on a regular basis.  And because I, myself, am a shopaholic regular shopper, I try to offer the utmost respect to any sales associates I encounter.  When I enter a clothing store I know that I’m going to spend a chunk of my hard-earned money.  Because of this fact, I don’t insist that someone wait on me hand and foot.  In fact, I’m perfectly happy if a salesperson points me in the direction of what I’m looking for, offers some quick recommendations, and is available if I need an opinion on “does this make me look fat”.

However, a few weeks ago I ventured into Victoria’s Secret (because I had some gift cards burning a hole in my pocket) on a particularly busy day.  I spent a few minutes working my way around the store looking for items that would suit me.  Now since this is a public blog, I’m not gonna go into details of what I need in terms of undergarment support but I will say that there are certain things that will work for me and certain things that just will not.

Since the store was so chaotic, I decided that I needed to enlist the help of one of the many sales associates meandering through the store.  As I approached one lady, she turned to me and asked, “Is there anything I can help you find?”  Trying to be as concise as possible I told her what I was looking for, what wouldn’t work for me and about how much I had to spend.  Her glazed over expression should have prepared for what she was going to say next.  “That’s nice,” she replied.  “We have a lot to choose from so I’m sure you’ll be able to find just what you are looking for.”  Before I could pick my jaw up off the ground, she had disappeared back into the crowd.

It took me a few minutes to get over the initial shock of what had just happened.  I even replayed the whole scene in my head, thinking that maybe I had assumed she was offering her help.  Whatever the case may be, I simply walked around the store in a confused daze for a few more minutes before leaving empty-handed.  After an encounter like that, I couldn’t even fathom spending my money (or gift cards) there.

Now I’m not trying to bash Victoria’s Secret because I’ve had many perfectly good experiences at their stores.  I just think that sometimes a sales associate (or anyone who deals with customers on a daily basis) forgets how much of an impression they can make.  Sometimes the customer may decide to come back another day, or you may have just lost them for life.  Either way, it’s not how the company would want their brand remembered.  I suppose, in one way or another, we are all faced with situations similar to this.  We encounter so many people in a day that we sometimes forget that each one is forming an opinion of us, and of who we represent.  Whether you are representing your company brand or simply building your own personal brand, every interaction leaves people with an impression.  What kind of impression have you left today?

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