Closing time and turning the other cheek

We were closed. Winter hours, you know. We close at 7. And there were two women in the store. One in the fitting room, one on the floor. Both were informed that we were closed, but they had a few minutes.

The best-case scenario response is that the client immediately takes all her items to the desk, buys everything that was in her hands (and has no intention of returning it), and asks if she can start a store credit card while she’s at it. This makes it worth the while. Also, it’s fast. Then we can wave her out of the store with genuine happiness. “Goodbye, dear! Have a lovely evening!”

The decent response is to take two minutes to sort through the things she wants and to put the things she doesn’t want on the go-back rack. Nothing should be inside out on the hanger. (why do I even have to say this?) Then she apologizes, asking if we always close this early? Still makes a purchase, still leaves fairly quickly without making a big mess.

What happened last night:

“Just so you know, we are closed. You can have a few more minutes though.” This, after they didn’t take the hint when we locked the doors and turned off the music.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know you were closed! I wondered why the music turned off!” Has already tried on many items but goes back into the dressing room for a second round where the other lady is taking her time. Leaves a pile of sweaters behind. To her credit, she was trying to put them back. That’s a nice thought, but it’s actually better if I, who know where they go and how to fold them, do it. I’m trained. And faster.

Oh, sigh.

I’ve probably done that to someone before.

It’s hard to know the proper conduct when you haven’t worked in retail. Sort of. Sort of hard. Sort of easy. Sort of just common courtesy.

As I checked out the woman who went back to the fitting room for a second round last night, twenty minutes after close, she looked a little frantic. And I remembered that these are the moments that make or break customer service. How did the associate respond when you stayed past your welcome and made a mess?

Calm, smiles, would-you-like-an-email-receipt?

It’s not always that way because my passive aggressive inner monster wants to take over. Be really quiet, remind them that we close at 7, sigh a little (but in a controlled way so they think it’s really bothering me but that I’m trying to control it. It’s just too much!).

Sometimes working with customers is an opportunity to just keep turning the other cheek. It’s not like these women are trying to wound me.

Well, sometimes they are. There are catty people in the world. Sometimes they’re really unbelievable.

But most of the time it’s just that they aren’t thinking. They aren’t remembering that my sole job isn’t to clean up after them. No, it actually involves a little bit more than that. They aren’t remembering that I’m not a drone without feelings. Sometimes I wonder if they think I don’t want to go home after work, if they think I’d like to just stay at the store all night. They just aren’t realizing that when they turn up their nose at something I bring them that it’s a little hard not to take their disdain personally. They don’t remember that we’re two people having an interaction.

I hate that the customer is always right. I mean, when it comes to company policy they aren’t always. At the same time, it’s a challenge to meet. If the customer is always right and they are not acting well, I must treat them with as much kindness as I would a nice client who actually is in the right.

Turn the other freakin cheek.

It’s a lesson in patience and a test of kindness that I don’t always pass. But at least I know there’ll be another chance to try again.

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