Let’s get this straight: not one child says, “When I grow up, I want to work in retail. I want to sell unnecessary items to ungrateful people who will ultimately be rude and suspicious of me while I’m criticized by an underpaid manager who bears the responsibility of bringing in thousands of dollars for a company that doesn’t appreciate him or her.”
No one says that.
So the next time you walk into a store and a sales associate says to you, “How are you today?” try to answer the question as if it were your neighbour, or your daughter, or your friend asking you. Because those retail associates are people, with families, and they are either making a difficult living or saving up to pay for their education – so they don’t have to eat shit for the rest of their lives.
Don’t say, “Just browsing!” or “I don’t need any help!” or “No thank you.” Believe me, I’ve heard it all. I’m not asking you if you want my help, I am simply asking, “How are you?” And if I don’t ask you that question within a minute of your entering my store or when you’re in a ten foot range, it’s my ass on the line.
Most clothing stores, as an example, have to hit certain benchmarks by following a specific set of instructions. The company has many ways of finding out if sales associates are following these instructions. For example:
- Manager reports
- Secret shoppers (these are all too real)
- Customer surveys (often found at the bottom of your receipt)
- And more!
So how do you respond as a polite customer? Here are just a few options:
- “I’m doing well, how are you?”
- “Good thanks.”
- “Great! I just came in to buy socks! Where are they?”
- “I’m okay; just browsing around today thank you.”
The best thing to do is answer politely, and thank the person who greeted you. If they go on to ask you if you need help, simply thank them and say yes or no. There is no need to get snippy, snappy, or answer harshly; all sales associates are trying to do is their job.
And to be honest, most of them are actually just trying to help you – it makes their shift go by faster and people get enjoyment from helping others (even retail employees)! That means beginning by greeting you politely upon entering their store. The least you could do, as a customer, is return the gesture. You’ll find that if you do end up needing help, the sales associate will actually be glad to assist you, since you were so polite.
Remember, you are the one that chose to leave the house and go into their store. If you don’t want to associate with anybody, try staying home…or going to the library. Otherwise, be prepared to smile, greet, and mind your manners! After all, it’s only common courtesy.