I wouldn’t have believed this if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes. Stores will sometimes spend thousands on new racking systems or to repave their parking lots — but not a dime to train their employees.
Joanne’s Fabrics is a national chain with great products for anyone who sews or does crafts. My friend Mary does both but sewing is more than her hobby; it’s her home-based business. Her store of choice for fabric and sewing machine? You got it, Joanne’s Fabrics. How long has she been shopping at their store? Probably 15 years. How much has she spent? Probably thousands.
Mary recently purchased two pens that are used to mark fabric — the kind that within 10 minutes or so the ink dries and disappears. This is very useful when you are sewing and marking on light color fabrics. Unfortunately one of the pens was not working. Here are three important pieces of information to the story. 1. The pens are $6. 2. The week before, Mary purchased a new sewing machine for more than $1,000. 3. Mary does not have a receipt for the pens.
I probably don’t need to tell you anymore but it highlights some very important customer service issues. When Mary took the pen back, the salesperson was unwilling to refund her money. (Mary didn’t ask for a new pen since she wasn’t that thrilled with the first one.)
Funny the salesperson didn’t look for Mary’s name in the computer and Mary didn’t say, “Hey, I’m a great customer, I bought a $1000 sewing machine last week and spent $5000 last year in your store.”
I decided not to add my two cents but asked Mary a few questions instead. She said she understood why the salesperson didn’t give her back her money: Mary didn’t have a receipt. I asked her about the sewing machine she bought for $1000, to which she replied that she forgot to bring it up.
Okay, so Mary is a more passive customer, not wanting to cause problems and doesn’t realize that she has leverage with the salesperson or clout in the marketplace. You can be sure if she tells this story to a few more friends she will have worked herself to a frenzy — and then look out!
The real questions in my mind are:
- Why didn’t the salesperson ask the customer any questions before she said “no way”? A question like What’s your name? would have probably have given Mary the opportunity to talk about how much she likes Joanne’s and about her new sewing machine.
- Did she take for granted that Mary was a slacker? I mean, Mary was wearing a picture of her dog emblazoned on her shirt, hat and socks.
- Did the salesperson assume the customer was just cheap? It was only a $6 item.
Mary doesn’t have a car so she takes two buses to get to Joanne’s to be dismissed. That may have something to do with Mary’s statement yesterday: why don’t we just go into New York City and go to the garment district to buy my supplies. What Joanne’s doesn’t know about Mary is that she’s a lot more sophisticated than she looks.