A Little Kindness and Respect when Selling
inFebruary 21, 2013 - 4:02pm
I love Ruby Lane. I loved it before I decided to try this on-line selling thing, I loved it during the process of setting up my shop, and I love it now. The Ruby Lane staff members have always been kind and respectful. (To them, there really are no dumb questions!)
I'm the kind of person who will not re-visit a store or mall or on-line shop if there is even a hint of a put down. If I'm looking for a particular style of shirt, and the helper person in the shirt section is snotty, or rolls their eyes, or makes an air leak sound, I'll walk away and go elsewhere. It hurts my feelings and makes me feel stupid. Rarely, I will comment to the manager. On the other hand, if the helper person in the shirt section takes a moment to point me in the right direction, or kindly suggests something that might actually be in style, I'll come back, and frequently, comment to the store manager.
In that same spirit of respect, I treat all my customers, and potential customers, the same. Friendly, helpful, informative, and courteous. The basics. Some customers become chatty, and I return the favor. Some write the least of messages, and I, in return, will stick to the basics of the sale - not clutter their process. I try to remember that this is all about the customer, not me.
I recently had a sale to Canada, and this happened to be her first internet purchase. I always let a person know, if they want to pay via credit card, that they can email the information to me, or call me and we can do the transaction while on the phone together. Knowing that these are tricky times and putting personal info out in cyber space can be perceived as risky, I also let them know that they have other options available such as, money order, Pay Pal, or personal check. Anyway, this gal called me, because she was nervous about the purchase, and although we only visited for a few minutes, she felt put at ease enough to give me her card info. Later that day I realized that I could get her purchase to her in the same amount of time, at half the price. I changed the shipping method, let her know via email, then sent her a check for the overpayment the next day. (She seems to think I'm terrific now.) She got a little chatty and I got chatty back. Though she lives a thousand miles away, I expect to meet her one day. I think she'll stop by, if she travels anywhere near here.
Another sale that week went sort of the same, but that gal changed her payment method from credit card to money order. She was uncomfortable giving me, a small business, her information. She would have given it to 'Ruby Lane' but not 'The Other Place, ABC Shop'. That's Ok too, because small or unfamiliar business names don't readily make a person feel free to share personal info. I had the opportunity to explain to her that Ruby Lane was a non-invasive venue for shops, and that lets shop owners and customers interact personally. Right after that, another sale to a man who emailed his info without pause. (He purchased a gift!) I treated everyone the same, got the same end results, yet with 3 different processes.
I always check in with the customer to make sure they like their purchase. One answered back very sweet and chatty, the next didn't answer back at all (after 5 or 6 days, that tells me they're, at least, OK with their purchase), and the third answered in a day or so that he was very pleased and thought his wife would love the gift. One of the three could be a repeat customer for a particular collectible, and the other two may check out my shop again one day, for future gifts.
The very long and windy point is that the basics are the same. Even if I don't make a sale because the person changes their mind, or whatever, that person is treated respectfully as well. They may stop in another time and complete a transaction.
One other thing. I took a risk and emailed a fellow shop owner to see if they'd care to purchase an item (not yet listed), as I'd noticed that they had recently sold a similar item in their shop. Their answer felt abrupt, and I was embarrassed to have written. Now, I'll probably get over it, as my memory is like a sieve these days, but if it had been me, I would have considered that the person who wrote me had visited my shop and was a potential customer, as well as a fellow shop owner. Until I forget the incident, I won't visit that shop again, nor will I recommend it. (But I won't bad-mouth it either.) Had a person taken a few seconds to, for example, thank me for checking out their store, and although they were not interested in purchasing the item they expressed the were pleased that I thought of them, then I might have been their next customer. I purchase things, too.
I realize not every abrupt note is a personal slight, but as a business owner, is it wise to risk that perception? Doesn't the person who's asking questions or browsing deserve the same respect as the person who is buying right now?
There is little enough concern for others feelings in the world these days, and I'm not going to add to the decline. I think our world could be a little better if we'd all show - "A Little Kindness And Respect". Thank you.
Elizabeth Allison -The Other Place, ABC Shop on Ruby Lane