Sunday, January 18, 2009

Customer Pet Peeves

I used to have a job selling jewelery. I started as an enthusiastic sales associate but I was so bad at sales that over time I found myself working in the back office. I've always been better at paperwork and reports than negotiating and making sales. I have a history of migrating from sales to behind the scenes doing clerical and office work for most of the employers I've worked for.

It's been many years since I worked at Sierra West Jewelers but I still think they are the highest quality jewelers in the area. Most customers were great and I enjoyed working with them, but occasionally I'd encounter difficult ones. This post is dedicated to the latter group. Here are my 7 categories of difficult clients. Most of these scenarios are jewelery specific, but I'm sure the principles apply to other sales and service industries as well.

1) The Early Birds-These people would come in to pick up their merchandise before the agreed upon date. They didn't understand that it takes time to order materials, cast and re-size rings, set stones, etc. You'd ask for the due date on their claim check and they'd say Thursday at 5:00. You'd point out it is Wednesday so they'd leave and come back again on Thursday at 2:30 and act surprised again that it still wasn't ready.

2) The Holier Than Thou-Every once in a while a guy would say that he would not buy a diamond because of an ethical issue. He would throw out the phrase Blood Diamonds and would make references to corruption and suffering. Even after assuring him you sold conflict free diamonds he'd continue lecturing. Me thinks he doth protest too much. I'm sure some people are legitimately concerned about that issue, but it's also a convenient position to take when don't want to spend money on a diamond. Just say you want a CZ instead and nobody will judge you but please save us the preachy attitude.

3) The Future Controlling Idiot Husband-One guy said "I just want to keep this basic. I want something plain and simple like her" as he pointed to his fiance. Other guys would verbally beat up their future bride for choosing a ring style the guy didn't like. Which one of you is going to wear it for the rest of your life? I got an occasional glimpse into the future lives of some soon to be miserable women.

4) The Special Customer-These people who would never entertain the thought of having the same ring as anyone else on the planet. They insisted on designing their own jewelery. This is not a bad thing. In fact custom work is extremely popular and usually very cool. The problem was that in their attempt to be totally unique some customers designed some disturbing and hideous creations that made your average ugly mothers ring look sleek and classy.

5) The Know It All-This was usually a guy who had a very basic diamond education and then felt he was the world's authority on diamonds and jewelery even though he was totally clueless. They were easy to identify because they'd usually say that their mom or a friend has "a flawless diamond". They would also mix up clarity and color terms yet insist they know more than you.

6) The Paranoid Client-These were always a treat to deal with. They were even more protective and worried about their rings than Gollum was of his precious. They would not let their ring out of their sight since they were sure you would switch diamonds or file of some off the gold off while they weren't looking. I'm sure the goldsmiths enjoyed having these people breathe over their shoulder as they worked on their repairs.

7) The Bargain Shopper-There is nothing wrong with being frugal and shopping around to get a good deal, but if you show up with more than 12 business cards from other jewelers then it's time to make a decision and move forward. Occasionally a client would come in who had been shopping for years and would not be happy if you made any profit from the transaction even though you are going to warranty their purchase and service it for the rest of their lives.

Thanks for listening as I've vented. Now that I've brought closure to these past experiences I can move on with my life


Kelly said...

I'm afraid I am the paranoid client. My center diamond belonged to my mother who is now deceased. Most of my siblings don't even know I have it. My dad made me promise to keep it secret.

If it ever got switched I would curl up into the fetal position and possibly never get up again. That's how I feel. Sorry if that makes you uncomfortable

Tom said...

I understand your concern for a family heirloom that has more than monetary value. I was just amused by the level of mistrust that some people had due to rumors they had heard over the years.

MikkSolo said...

Thanks for the compliments on our company. We miss you and would take you back in an instant...Just not in sales! (smiley face)

You made my day by pointing out the clients I get to work with every day. Even that considered, I still love my job.

Kelly, I understand your concern. This is why it is so important to go to a trusted jeweler. Ask around and get references. You will always be treated with respect and can trust Sierra~West.


Dr Zibbs said...

I had a job in high school selling crappy audio equipment in a farmers market. Man I've got to write some posts about that.

Also, I love Chaka. "Arie, Arie, Ki Kulani" (I swear he said that once).

RenegadeExpress said...

You must be kidding about number 3!