I decided to write this article because I noticed a lot of complaints on the internet from people who, unhappy with how they were treated in a store, let off steam by writing badly about that business, rather than another. This is not an article that will make you a business guru and is not an article to gather the approval of those people who complain about the services received. The ultimate goal of this article, the mission of this article, is to foster a meeting point between customer and merchant by analyzing what are the aspects from both points of view.
First of all, one must never forget that any trader, in turn, is a customer of something. It seems obvious, but it seems that on both sides of the fence, this simple fact is not so obvious. To write this article, I asked various friends of different nations for various opinions. I therefore looked for historical documentation that could integrate the knowledge that, being me belonging to both sides, are part of my daily life and not only.
Some of you will surely already understand that I have been a merchant for several years now, I have a small business and like all those who do the same job as me, I am also a customer with regard to other types of business. I will not enter into the specifics of my type of activity because I did not write this article to advertise my business but rather to give my opinion on this topic. I therefore hope that you, dear reader friends, would like to be patient and continue reading, intrigued by what could be a different point of view from yours and that can, I hope in the vast majority of cases, relieve you of that stress that is increasingly present in the everyday life.
I think it may be useful to do some local thinking about some historical aspects of trade. Do not be afraid, I would never want to dwell on you and describe all the historical aspects. These aspects, I am sure, are widely described in other articles available on the web. This article, dealing with the interactions between those who receive the good or service (which we will call customers) and those who provide the good or service (which we will call shopkeepers), certainly does not want to be a kind of complete bible on trade.
Trade has always existed, this is certainly not a novelty. When I ask myself when and how this modus was born, I like it and I close my eyes and think. Imagine that you regress almost to the stone age, you are a lifelong fruit picker, you know all the times and places. You are so good at finding more than you really need for your livelihood. You live in a place far from a fresh and clean source of water such as a spring could be. Due to the fact that you have decided to live right next to the place where you harvest the fruit, since you need to drink, you will have to walk miles to collect that water that is vital for you. Once you get to the spring, you meet other people , who do what you do but with water. They have an overabundance of it but living on the rocks, they do not have the same possibility to collect so many good fruits to feed themselves.
At this point, there are only two possible outcomes. The first is to go to war to secure that particular source of livelihood and in the end, no one would fully enjoy it because both are too far from the two sources of livelihood. The second is to organize peacefully exchanging what advances from the harvest of the fruits with water and vice versa. In this way, those who have too much of one thing can exchange it for another. For transport we could organize ourselves with an intermediate figure that, in exchange for water and fruit, would bring these two objects to their destination.
This is how trade is born, from the imperative need to survive well aware that we are not alone in the world and that in exchange for a consideration, in order to survive, we can get "if we are lucky" what we need. With time and with the advent of money, the trade system has evolved, even increasing considerably in complexity.
To some of you, this paragraph might seem superfluous because for some of you the answer could be discounted. A trader or a professional is good if he can meet the customer's needs in a timely and professional manner. In reality this thing is not so obvious. In the numerous interviews I gave to my friends from all over the world, I received very different answers. One of these, for example, told me that a merchant is good at the extent that he manages to cheat the customer without them noticing. Another replied that a merchant is good if it's cheap. Or if it provides a service that satisfies the customer for an average period. Yet another told me that a trader is good if and only if he can make as much money as possible. At this point, it therefore seems clear that the definition changes according to one's personal experiences, stereotypes or place of origin.
We must never forget that with modernity, we need more and more things and that the desire for the latter many times can make us feel frustrated. This state of mind, together with our other personal considerations that are independent of the desired object or service, probably contributed to the formation of some of the clichés that I present below.
Whether you believe it or not, since I am in business, I have always worked to carry out my work ethically and faithfully. When I refer to ethics, I would like to pay particular attention to the fact that any self-respecting retailer is a professional in that field, he strives to make the customer spend as little as possible obtaining a reasonable profit and advises the client so that he can wait at his own necessity following the shortest, safest and most suitable way. It is clear, however, that on the other hand, there are shopkeepers or service providers who do not issue a receipt even under torture or issue a partial and calculated number. These individuals should not be hated, because in most cases they are people who have failed.
It is not at all easy in fact in certain nations to go on paying a lot of taxes, many shopkeepers or professionals therefore choose the lesser evil to feed the children who are waiting for them at home. Even if not paying taxes is not justifiable, one must also understand that there are cases in which one cannot do otherwise because of survival. There are undoubtedly the evaders who do it to get rich but it is my opinion that these people too should be pitied because they have failed in their mission to be a useful and productive member of society. Do not think that they go to sleep peacefully at the end of the day.
One thing I always tell my clients is that when a person buys a good or service, the price for that person is always high. When a person sells a certain good or service, the price is always low. It is for this reason that normally, people who bargain less when they are in a store are people from 18 to 24 years old. Probably, these do not have a great experience and are not yet impoverished by preconceptions. I also have experiences of customers who were surprised by the extremely advantageous and convenient price for them. But normally the opposite happens in commerce. I believe it is right to explain, however, that prices are very rarely inflated. Normally when making a price, competition is taken into account knowing that there is a very fierce competition. It should also be considered the fact that in some countries, such as mine, for example, the final price is affected by a measure of not less than a quarter of value added taxes. Then there is a tax on income that practically halves the earnings, without counting the need to pay the contributions, other taxes, rent and utilities such as the light, the telephone etc ... In light of these facts now I ask you, they are really inflated prices? Does a trader really get rich? And anyway thieves are something else. It is obvious that if we compare the price to what we see in online stores, it can never be lower for the reasons I explained earlier. Furthermore, a trustful human relationship is established with the shopkeeper. Try to buy a faulty item in a country on the other side of the world and you will understand the difference.
Regardless of the amount of money a person can have, almost all of us want something we can't afford. What life would be like if we didn't always want something. Beyond this philosophical aspect, I believe it may be useful to dwell on one aspect. In the unlikely event that any professional or commercial activity is organized in the lobby in order to create an oligopoly regime, it would do so against the laws of many states including mine. I have no news of any shopkeeper who ever lawfully forced anyone to buy anything. It is also true that there are people who are particularly inclined to sell. Some of these are specifically hired for the purpose of transforming a simple contact with a customer into a business transaction. But a business is not just this, a business should be based on an added value that no trick of the trade can give. For example, I'm not so good at bargaining, in fact I calculate the prices of the items I buy so that they are as cheap as possible for my clients, without damaging my business. Some traders, however, could purposely inflate the prices in order to allow a negotiation margin giving the customer the satisfaction of having "won" that tug of war. And if they don't bargain so much better. So sometimes it is easy for the customer not noticed to fall into the "trap" of the discount.
Anyone who does a job that is not comparable to a sort of volunteer gets up in the morning to earn something that gives him the chance to live. Whether an employee, a freelancer or an owner, any person who has a job role would like at least to have an economic reward that allows them to live.
The nature of this stereotype is rather strange because it would be hoped that anyone who understands that the need to survive by working is something common to many on this earth. Who has never dreamed of succeeding with their work and who has never dreamed of earning enough to attend to their needs and those of their loved ones? In the end, as it is easy to guess my dear readers, we are all in the same boat. Anyone who carries out a commercial activity however knows that the interpersonal relationships that are created are very important. Many of us know that they are many times confessors and that our clients expect compassion from us that they cannot find elsewhere. Are we really sure, however, that when we play the role of the customer, we are all equally available to others? Some may think that the shopkeeper should wash off any kind of personal problem in favor of those who are crossing the threshold of commercial activity. For example, I myself found myself consoling a person who had lost an object he cared about. At that time I had discovered that my partner was seriously ill with a bad form of cancer but I also tried to smile and joke to defuse the difficult situation that was affecting my client. In response, I was told that my attitude was not good because I didn't show myself available enough to share the immense pain that the client felt at that moment having lost that particular object. When you cross the threshold of a business and you are tired, stressed and nervous, perhaps you should consider that life does not all revolve around you and that probably the person with whom you interject is a human being.
I have always thought that the predisposition to lie is something independent of the trade that one does. Any person who is used to lying for one reason or another will lie to achieve the goal he has set himself. I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting someone who does not lie but at least, in my professional activity, there have been rare occasions in which I have advised my clients to go to another place that I knew, for that particular object or service he was better equipped than me.
Many shopkeepers do not give advice of this kind because they are afraid of losing customers but over time I have learned that lying to end a transaction is never the right way because people are not stupid and because it is objectively wrong to do so.
Witness the fact that, due to the problem I described above, I had to keep my store closed for some time. Maybe I will have missed some "new" customers but my regular customers have been waiting for me because they know that in one way or another, I will always wait for their needs, no matter where, but they will find what they are looking for. In fact, there are not rare cases in which, although it is something for which I am not equipped, I have much to do to convince my clients to get supplies elsewhere. A little for sure laziness, but in the vast majority of cases, they trust me and it is this feeling of trust that must inspire a shopkeeper. With facts, not chatter and smiles. Did I once tell a client if he preferred to be well cared for by a good but bad doctor in entertaining his clients or bad by a bad but good at entertaining them? He replied that the thing is different because I am only a merchant.
When I am told this, because of my experience, I rarely believe it. Because a shopkeeper has to pay the rent, he has to pay his salary, he has to pay his contributions, utilities, insurance, eventual catastrophes in the shop window (anything but rare) and so many other things that if put in the pile make prices rise rightly. Since I've always been the kind of shopkeeper who explains things to people, I put myself with a piece of paper and a pen, I did all the calculations on a sheet and at the end I asked a simple question. If a shopkeeper pays all the taxes, waits for all the obligations and has a physical business, considering that in my country, even more than a fifth of the final price is value added tax, how do you live? Unless you have an endless line of customers waiting patiently for their turn, it's impossible. Eye to the prices too low because if the service, the object or the commercial activity are too low, it could have a secret, lawful or not that you don't know.
The enormous competitiveness of the market could push some shopkeepers to divest themselves of their dignity in order to conclude the transaction. Furthermore, with the increasing popularity of large companies, we have become accustomed to being treated with velvet gloves. I have always thought that when dealing with another person, regardless of everything, we must respect it. How many times have we been faced with negative reviews put in place by competitors disguised as customers or by people who demanded us to be right even when they were obviously wrong? In my business, I prefer, with education, to express my opinion even if it collides with my client's point of view. This is because I have more experience in the field, I am proud of what I do and I want to do my best, I like being very clear about the pros and cons of the services or items I sell. From someone this attitude is appreciated but I have realized that many people see in this way to make a shocking attitude that is perceived as rudeness or verbal aggression. We have become accustomed by now that we can say everything within a business and those on the other side must set aside their dignity because we are the customers. Have you wondered how you would feel if this were to happen to you? Or is it precisely because it happens to you that you take revenge in this way? I believe that the customer is not always right and we must make him understand it with firmness, respect and maximum education. This is because it is preferable that the customer is better then having chosen the article with the characteristics that he really needed, rather than concluding the transaction by making him believe that he chose well and then shrugging when he presents himself with a later problem or not realizes he caught a crab.
The client should relate with the same kindness, respect and education that he wants to receive. It would be preferable not to vent his economic shortcomings and personal problems with those who are "serving" him at that time. I encourage you to ask precise questions without appearing presumptuous. He should be receptive to advice, always careful to filter the truth and purpose of these tips because not all merchants and professionals are intellectually honest.
The shopkeeper should try to accommodate anyone in a warm, quiet and professional manner even if the person has no intention of buying the goods and services, so even if it is only there to make them lose time. He should advise the client according to his conscience by making a long-term investment in the quality of the regular customers.
I realize that this article may seem a bit of a part as I am a shopkeeper. As I wrote before, I am also a customer and my status as a business owner certainly does not help me. To give you an explanatory example, once I went to a dealership to buy a very cheap machine that would replace my car, which is almost twenty years old (just to dispel the myth that we get rich at trade). The dealer, he showed me all the cars listening to what my economic needs were, explained to me in detail everything. As I was in a hurry, I was literally dragged out of the dealership and after three days, the dealer called me on my cell phone and told me he wanted to know if I was interested in buying, if I wanted to maybe take a test drive. I replied that we were left that he would not call me on the phone and that I would let him know in a very annoyed tone. I was wrong! Because we were not left in any way and because I replied objectively badly. I didn't have the courage to apologize to him because of a weakness called pride. As you can see, in the end customers and retailers are all in the same boat and it would simply take a little more calm and less intransigence to avoid taking unnecessary stress home. However, I propose to go there in person to apologize. Maybe.
The experiences that I propose to you below, in order to smile a little and eventually, if you like to comment on them, have actually happened. This makes us reflect on the vast variety of minds and customs. Actually some of these happened to me, let's see if you guess which ones.
Shopkeeper: A guy comes in the door without even giving me a look, I'm a meter away from him and I greet him with a smile asking him what I could do for him. I sell shoes and point to the shelves with my hand. Not even answering my greeting he goes in front of a painting, looks at it, passes his finger on the frame and rubs it as if to check if there was any dust. Without this, always without considering me, he opens the door and leaves.
Customer: They call me from a call center and present themselves as the customer support of a telephone operator. I explain to him that I am a little bit heavy at the moment and ask if I can be called back. This person insists on telling me that he has an offer for me but I can't continue because I'm about to drive, I had to accompany my daughter to the gym. I close the phone. This call center lady calls me back and yells at me that I was rude. I tell her that if I were her boss, I would have fired her in the trunk for allowing herself to call me back and scream on the phone. I have closed the phone, it has no longer called back.
Shopkeeper: A man enters the shop and asks me the price of a shirt, I check and tell him the price. He asks me, how come so much? I begin to explain to him that it is a shirt with certain characteristics, etc. But he does not let me finish the sentence and tells me that he does not care anything since he had another price in mind. Then he offers me his price and I reply that it does not depend on me. Again, he replies that he is not interested in anything and leaves.
Customer: As soon as I enter the shop I am hooked by the order that starts to stress me with her prosopopee. He fills me with compliments and in the meantime offers me some tricks. I tell her I'm interested in buying, just taking a ride. I continue my walk inside the store but this saleswoman does not want to leave me alone, she is always stuck as if I had to buy something by force. So all the way to the cashier, it was a continuous proposing to me what I was looking at. I greeted her without even shaking her hand, I will never go back to that place.
Shopkeeper: Today a lady visits me in my shop and greets me with a big smile. He offers me his (unthinkable) price for an item he wanted to buy, reminding me that eight years earlier he had bought something from me and that therefore he was entitled to a discount. I explained to her that unfortunately that object was already taken for granted and I showed her the sign. She reciprocates all my smiles and greets me saying that it would be for next time. The next morning, I see a stain of something bad on the window. I watch the recording of the cameras to understand who was that rude who had done such a thing. I couldn't believe it, she had returned and spit in the window.
Customer: A shocking thing happened to a friend of mine. He received a mega discount on his mobile, went to the perfume shop and showed him this discount to the order. This was an old woman at least sixty years old and made her waste a lot of time flipping through the catalog. The shop was full of people and you think that the saleswoman even allowed herself to give you my friend. They wrapped her perfume without even putting on the signed sachet so that it was clear that the gift was original. After this experience. I told her that normally, when this kind of thing happens to me, I boycott the shop and I'm happy to see that they close, in the end we see what happens to the stores with the orders like that.
Shopkeeper: I had the rare pleasure of an almost customer, because for me the customers are the ones who buy, not the ones who walk around the store to waste my time. This person is not interested in buying something from me but selling it. In dealing with used objects, I ask you to see what you have to sell me. But she replies that the objects she has to sell me are original and that I have to go to trust. By checking the items I should buy, I would offend her. In the end I told her that it was not possible for me without having any information to give her a range of amounts. He dwells, assuring me that I am as she told me. At a certain point I ask you a specific and intrinsic question about the composition of the object because I saw it very well on this subject. You can't answer me and ask me why I ask you this question. I reply that since she was sure of the composition of the objects, I needed that information to make the estimate. She told me she didn't know. Then I told her that she could feel free to bring the items for free and without obligation for a free evaluation. She started yelling at me that she had no words, then ended up letting go before letting the door close behind her. After some time, he returns to the shop, brings me the objects and continues to tell me that they are as she says, I explain them to her and show her with facts that the objects are clearly fakes and when she feels herself at odds she answers me. And as I know, you're the one who buys them, you have to be the expert. In practice he spent a day telling me that he knew what he had in his hand so that I would understand that being an expert, there was no need to rub it (as if I had necessarily the intention) and then in the end what was in it was she.
Customer: I enter the shop which was empty with an empty sample to ask if I could take some product to try it at home. As soon as he set foot inside, the saleswoman immediately jumps on me and begins to suggest things to me. I buy some tissues and then ask her if I can have some of that foundation to put in my sample. This woman, in no way wanted to open a new package to put some foundation in my container. He offered me a free sample but it was of another color! Eventually, seeing me agitated, this job satisfies me and we discover that there is a dispenser, it just puts the quantity to give the foundation to an ant and gives me my container. Since the thing was too serious, I went out without insisting. Unbelievable that nowadays, in such an important shop, there are so little educated salespeople.
Shopkeeper: I do the part-time job of a supermarket, I also work on Sundays and overtime I don't weigh too much because I have a disabled child at home. My company doesn't even give me meal tickets and they make me work even 12 hours, despite my contract being part-time even for more than 20 days in a row. Many times, looking in my pay slip, I notice that overtime hours and missed breaks are not paid to me. I live in terror of being fired because my contract is not permanent. I am tired and my brain is muffled due to my son's discomfort. The customers do nothing but complain to my boss who constantly yells at me and threatens to send me a letter of appeal.
Customer: I will tell you a story of pure terror! In other words, I go in and buy an eyebrow pencil and I find myself without an eyebrow pencil but with a lot of stuff. And to make matters worse, the X shop has priced me for trillions of euros! But that's not all, this job had the competence of one who spent her hours behind youtube tutorials. They seem to me fruit sellers, never again in that place.
Shopkeeper: Something very recreational happened to me once. I was in the store where I am the owner, at the time I had an employee. For some reason unknown to me, people thought he was the boss but it wasn't important to me it was fine because even though my employee, for me it was a fundamental and important part of my company. At some point doing the calculation of a remainder, I make a mistake, I realize it autonomously and redo the calculation joking with the client about the incident. A normal thing isn't it? This client tells me that she should alert my boss / employee / co-worker. At this point, I pretend to be afraid and beg her not to tell anyone. She promises me that this time she wouldn't tell anyone. Punctually, the next day, she returns to the store for the sole purpose of telling what happened to what she thought was the owner of the company. My employee, with whom we had and we have excellent relations, calls me on the phone and without stopping laughing he tells me this. Now my reflection is this. But why did this person freely take the trouble to go from what he thought was the owner of the company to tell this thing as if it were a complaint? Did he mean, out of pure wickedness, that the object of his discussion was punished for no reason?
If this article has entertained you, aroused interest, ignited thoughts or questions in your mind, feel free to write in your comments everything that comes into your head.