June 14, 2012 at 7:21 pm #30055
I work in retail, and we take customers’ information in order to pull up their profiles and also hand out fragrance samples at the end of the sale. So, a few times I’ve had customers tell me to change their last names in their profiles because they’re getting divorced, and I never know how to respond. Usually I just say, “I’m sorry, I’ll take care of that for you” or “Alright, let me take care of that” but inevitably they tell me a few more things like, “I’m so happy now” or “Yeah, thank God, I can’t wait to get out”. And when I hand out fragrance samples, I *have* to ask if a woman would like the men’s fragrances or if a man would like the women’s fragrances. And some people get these looks on their faces, and I’ve heard things like, “I just got divorced” and “No, he’s going to be an ex soon and I’m not looking to do him any favors”. Like, seriously, what the Hell do I say to that?!June 14, 2012 at 7:26 pm #30056
You don’t say anything. If they ask to change their name in the system because they got a divorce, you say “ok, it’s changed now.” No need to comment. If they say “phew thank god,” you can smile and say “well good!” If they say “thank god because he was too rich and handsome and nice and good in bed,” you give them my number, duh.
Can I have some samples? I love samples. Leave a box of them at the corner of State and Division in Chicago tomorrow at noon and I will pick them up.June 14, 2012 at 7:27 pm #30057
* Well, you give them my number to pass to the ex. You get it. Eh, that was dumb. When/how can I get the samples? I’m serious.June 14, 2012 at 7:28 pm #30058
Eh, I would say just smile and nod. I’m kind of a chronic over-sharer, and afterwards am likely to be like “Why in the world did I say that??” Not that I necessarily would talk about a divorce, but, if they’re at all like me in that regard, they’ll probably appreciate it if you just ignore the overshare.June 14, 2012 at 7:29 pm #30059
Maybe just something neutral like, “Again, Im sorry to hear about your situation, it must be difficult, but I am required to ask you if you want *other gender perfume* sample.”
Also, have you asked your supervisor what is the proper protocol? If this person indicates that you HAVE to ask, then they must have a good asnwer to the question…right?June 15, 2012 at 3:48 am #30081
Addie, I’ll send you some samples as soon as I can pilfer them from the backstock Do you have Facebook? Do you want our facebooks to be connected? And I don’t have your number, apparently I was MIA when that whole thread occurred and I am very sad that I missed the craziness.
As for just responding, it’s hard for me to not want to console them, despite my own personal opinions about divorce (I’m rather conservative, if that gives you any idea)… I would never ever ever express those opinions! But they still make it hard for me to know what the appropriate response is, if that makes sense.
I work in an environment where camaraderie between sales team and guest is greatly encouraged, so we are told to strike up conversations (even off-topic ones) whenever possible, as long as they remain focused on the positive. I have actually developed a group of very nice people who are devoted to shopping only with me, two of whom are men who love to disparage their recent ex-wives. It makes me very uncomfortable and I try to switch topics quickly. But it’s also hard to go from “yadda yadda yadda, oh I love the appetizer at that one restaurant, that shirt is such a fun color, your kid is so cute, church was especially good this week, yadda yadda” to basically doing the ‘Professional Non-Response’ when they bring up their recent divorce. I’ll try ignoring the overshare, though, and just swallow the Awkwardness Lump that ends up in my throat…
And rilooyah – There’s nothing in our sales directive and my manager is the type of person that I just know he won’t have any suggestions (I’m not sure he even offers samples, he doesn’t ring up very often unless it’s just him and I working). My 2nd-in-chief manager says that you have to hand both gender samples to every person because otherwise Regionals will get all up in our grill about not “maximizing our reach”. It’s also worth noting that we are pretty much forbidden from mentioning deliberate sales techniques… Like, one time I was explaining a promotion to a guest, where we give coupons that are redeemable in the future if a guest spends over a certain amount of money, and I said, “Yes, it’s because after the holiday we see fewer people and want to get everyone back into the store”. We’re supposed to say things like, “It’s because we want to reward our customers!” So I don’t think it would fly for me to let the guest know that I am required to offer both genders.June 15, 2012 at 5:24 am #30084
I think you’re over thinking this! Divorced people have sons, nephews, brothers, fathers, male-friends they could give that sample to/potentially buy cologne for. It’s not like your handing out those “For Him” “For Her” KY lubes.June 15, 2012 at 5:27 am #30085
And yes, the smile and nod. Those people won’t remember your interaction anyway, unless you say something really outrageous. Which would be funny, but your boss might not like itJune 15, 2012 at 7:04 am #30086
This is your answer, Sweets: “I think you’re over thinking this! Divorced people have sons, nephews, brothers, fathers, male-friends they could give that sample to/potentially buy cologne for. It’s not like your handing out those “For Him” “For Her” KY lubes.” – what Zepp said!
And you shouldn’t feel the need to console them because you have no idea what the divorce means to them. They might be happy or sad, frustrated, relieved, overwhelmed, angry, … insert any feeling, really! So that they are divorced should be nothing more than a matter of fact they for some reason shared just as if they had said they’re 5 foot 3. Which, by the way, why are they volunteering their marital status? Are you offering them a male fragrance “for your husband?” Maybe you should just say “would you also like a male fragrance sample?”June 15, 2012 at 7:51 am #30094
>it’s hard for me to not want to console them, despite my own personal opinions about divorce (I’m rather conservative, if that gives you any idea)…
As someone going through a divorce, I don’t need a verbal pat-on-the-head from a complete stranger. Especially one who apparently is looking down her nose at me because I was in a marriage that failed.June 15, 2012 at 8:46 am #30102
@Tax Geek – I think you’re safe – you don’t seem to be the kind of person who shares that information in the two minutes conversation with someone who’s trying to sell you cologne.
@Sweets – I don’t understand why you feel compelled to offer your view on their divorce. Just say something non-committal, and move on. The customers are probably venting, or looking for validation. In both cases, all you have to do is listen, and turn the conversation back to your job. I think the customers are crossing a line, and you should politely bring them back. (It annoys me to no end when I go to get a haircut, and the hairdresser asks all these questions – where are you from, what do you do, where do you live…. wtf? Just cut my hair, in silence, please!)June 15, 2012 at 8:48 am #30105
Don’t say anything or express any sympathy. A chirpy, brisk tone is the best thing for these people to hear– “Okay, I’ll take care of that.” Pretend you didn’t hear the part about them getting divorced– all you know is that they want the name changed! If they say something like, “So glad I’m not staying married to THAT ASSHOLE, right? HA!!” then smile or chuckle or give them a conpiratorial look, but there’s no need to say anything.
As for the samples, I like what some of the others were suggesting… “Would you like to take a look at the men’s fragrances, for your father/brother/husband?” People who’ve just gotten out of a relationship might feel stung, but if you broaden it to include other males in their life, you could ward off any bitter comments. Hope this helps!June 15, 2012 at 8:51 am #30106
Also, for a personal anecdote, I answer the phones here at work & sometimes people will call to have mail stopped for their late husbands/wives. I offer an “I’m sorry” (especially if they express mention it was recent) but then quickly move on to business.June 15, 2012 at 9:35 am #30142
@Elle – Fair enough. I don’t go near the cologne sections anyway, the smell makes me queasy (TMI?).
But your comment about not wanting to talk to a hairdresser made me laugh a little. I actually look forward to those kind of conversations. Maybe because I’m a guy and the stylists at Great Clips are almost all women. And my hair is short anyway so I’m not in there too long.June 15, 2012 at 10:31 am #30177
@Tax Geek – big reveal coming up, just for you! I live in a town where 93% of the population is white. I’m white, but I have an accent. I’m originally from Eastern Europe (that’s as far as I’ll go with the reveal!). So wherever I go, I’m the exotic one. As soon as I open my mouth, people ask me where I’m from. Can I please pay for my milk/yoga/do my laundry/get my haircut and be on my way? It gets annoying to go out and meet new people (should I wear a sticker or a t-shirt?). If people don’t ask me where I’m from in 5-10 minutes, I volunteer the information. I’m not a total bitch, but it just gets old. (Maybe I’m a control freak, and I want to be in charge of when to reveal that info?) And with the hairdresser, I’m stuck there for 20-30 minutes.
I get that people are curious. I try really hard to remind myself that. But when they say: “Where are you from, you have an accent?”, I respond, “Yes, I have an accent. Thank you for reminding me.” And change the topic. Does anyone have other strategies of dealing with this?
@Sweets, sorry for being off-topic here.
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