The World According to Renee

Views, Reviews, Short Stories and More…

Standing Tall

Some customers are difficult because they’re ignorant of language, products or metric conversions. Some are difficult because they “know everything”. And some are difficult because they like to see how far they can push you.

Yesterday I encountered a trio belonging to the last group. Two men and a woman. They came to the counter about an hour before I was due to close. Guy 1 argued straight off about the classic dozen (a pre-selected combination for a set price) which immediately hit a wall. He looked at my name badge (oh how I hate that thing!) and from then on, spat it out like it was a dirty word. This was going to be a challenge.

All three of them argued over the pre-selected combination we have, asking if they can change it. Even though the two guys (who bought a pack each) chose it after hearing what it contained, they still argued. While I refused, they jibed me. The woman called me names. The men complained that “the other girl” would do it (I knew this was BS but at that point, they realised I wasn’t going to budge). They argued over the cost. They complained I wouldn’t give them free doughnuts (“You get them for free and you say you haven’t eaten any today- why can’t we have them?”) They pushed each point and jibed me when I refused.

At one point, I felt myself slouch. Refusing to give in and be submissive, I deliberately pulled my shoulders back and held my head high. As the surge of confidence took over, I held the upper hand and eventually, they left. The whole encounter lasted more than ten minutes. I heard everything they bitched about as they walked out the door. I realised that everything I was thinking about them, they were thinking about me. I was shaken by the incident; it had been difficult not to give them cheek but to retain my professionalism. They had taken their doughnuts and paid for them without anyone getting hurt: I hadn’t ‘won’ but neither had they.

No matter how small you feel, had I backed down at any point, the three of them would have walked all over me. Now, I’m a big believer in You Can’t Please Everyone. Read the comments section of any news story and you’ll see exactly what I mean. With customers in retail, you’re always going to find someone complaining about price or ingredients or service (this usually means the employee didn’t give them what they wanted). In copywriting, if the client is unhappy they just won’t pay. My very first paying client didn’t like what I did; she was expecting something different and refused to pay. Imagine the excitement of a paying client only to have them turn around and tell you it looks like a child wrote it in ten minutes. (Since then, I’ve had my copywriting coach look it over, along with the detailed brief I’d done along with the client’s signature, and she’s said I’d done exactly what was asked, and done it well.)

Confidence is more than knowing you can do it. It’s knowing you did as well as anyone could have done under the circumstances. It’s keeping your cool under tough circumstances. Having difficult customers makes you a better customer in return.

Gotta love retail.


February 28, 2010 - Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections

1 Comment »

  1. Good one, Renee! It’s 3:30am and my sneezing is presenting itself. I will think about what you wrote and give further feedback lateronish.

    KK (not the doughnuts)

    Comment by Katariina | February 28, 2010 | Reply

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