I was thinking about this recently after a few poor experiences, and a couple of good ones at the counters. My interests in a brand and its products waver a lot, but a good experience keeps me returning to it and a poor experience can make me boycott a brand. Its just how I roll :)
I personally refuse to buy anything from Make Up For Ever locally, because the SAs at Sephora (where its sold) have, on the 2 occasions I’ve been interested to buy anything, been brusque, pushy and on a memorable occasion, refused to allow me to purchase a foundation I wanted, because to them, I should take one 2 shades darker and more yellow. I know, go figure.
On the other hand, I regularly return to a certain Crabtree & Evelyn store to pick up Christmas goodies or any goodies, because the SA there is a lovely lady who is helpful and friendly no matter when I drop in. Its the sale industry, and like it or not, sales assistants are for many of us, the first point of contact with a brand.
Have you experienced a situation where a poor experience with a sales assistant turns you off a particular brand? Or maybe you had a good experience and that keeps your interest in a brand?
I’ve had another poor experience lately with a sales person of a luxury brand I love – Guerlain. I had had dealings with this lady before and have on more than one occasion made purchases from her primarily because the counter is convenient for me, not because she’s the friendliest person in the world. I’d been snubbed before, but the most recent experience was the last straw.
Without going into detail, over a few visits and communications, I got a surly, almost unpleasant treatment and blasé attitude. I was pushed sets I wasn’t interested in, told I could pay for items first with no guarantee when I might able to pick them up, and it just totally rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t expect to be treated like a beggar by anyone much less at a cosmetics counter. Its just makeup! She actually even said she didn’t mind if I didn’t buy anything from her. Very strange but there you go. An SA who didn’t want to sell me anything I wanted to buy.
Normally, I would have been turned off the brand but as its one I’m a fan of, I chose instead to boycott that counter or specifically, that SA and just go to another one. I later went to a different counter, had a very pleasant experience with a different SA who was friendly and helpful, even without knowing what I was about to purchase. I also had a very pleasant encounter with another SA from the same brand. He was friendly, enthusiastic and helpful so clearly, its just that one person. I know her attitude has turned off not just me but others too. A friend goes out of her way to avoid that specific SA, preferring not to buy anything than give her her business.
Last weekend I was at a Chanel counter where the SAs were quite busy, but one of them took the time to sit me down, test the product I was interested in on my skin, offered some tips on how to use it and was helpful but not pushy in suggesting other items I might be interested in. The brand is one I had lost interest in for a while, but her friendly attitude drew me back in just for a little while.
Brands, if you are reading this, I trust you realise that your sales assistants are the front liners of your brand. A poor experience can turn potential customers right off, and a good experience can turn them into lifelong fans. I personally expect more in service from a luxury brand than I do from a mass consumer or regular department store brand. Its true whether it is cosmetics or accessories. When I don’t get it, I choose not to patronise the stores locally, and buy online instead or just choose to omit the brand totally from my collection. There are so many options these days, loyalty is highly subjective.
Have you had a poor experience that turns you off a brand? Or how about a good one that made you a fan of a brand?
Sometimes, I think its pure luck in discovering a counter with friendly staff. Granted, they are all human and are entitled to a bad day now and again, but I think in the service industry, that bad day should be kept to yourself. I’m not a difficult customer most of the time. I just go to the counter, and tell them what I want, and pay for it. Doesn’t get easier than that. Some customers can be horrible, I know. I’ve seen it and its embarrassing. I know what its like being in the service industry and having a bad day; but sometimes, you just have to suck it up and smile and get the job done, no matter how bad your day may be. That, is good service and that, makes people return.