There is a saying at Aviation Challenge that I try to live by in my daily life. We times get tough we say, “It’s Aviation Challenge, not Aviation Easy!” The point of the quote is simple and can be said in many ways or different metaphors. For example, “When life gives you lemons, make lemon-aid!” This weekend while working at the Barn I had to live up to the standard I set for myself. A standard that directed me not to work at Wal-Mart or Taco Bell for they do not know how to give excellent customer service. A standard that has lead me to look all guest in the eyes and say, how may I help you or whatever you would like ma’am! It doesn’t matter their race, creed, color, nationality or track record in our store I am to treat all customers with superior attention and care.
Before I tell you this story, I need to lay the ground work. I have been working at the Barn for almost six years with a small absence last year. There have been thousands of guest most of who I do not know their first name. I also worked with a spunky lady in the stock room name Adeline Rug. Early in my tenure I was doing this massive return for a lady for the Kids Barn. Unfortunately, the colors didn’t look right or her grand daughter didn’t like the thousand piece linen set that Grammy ordered online. I didn’t really care; I was only there to help! Adeline whipped around the corner, “Is that FRUITCAKE still in the… break room good!?!” I looked puzzled at my coworker. After the lady left, I learned that she often returns items. And what Adeline really intended to say was “Is that fruitcake still in the store.” See, she knew this lady.
Months and years would pass and I would learn that Fruitcake lady had a name, Cameron Drape. Cameron loves to buy stuff and then return it, buy stuff, buy more stuff, and then return it. It is a cycle for her. We have grown to appreciate her unique qualities, her neurotic nature, and loyalty to our brand. I think she buys stuff knowing that she will return the stuff. This gives her someone to talk to on a regular basis.
One day last week, Cameron came into the store. She was greeted warmly and helped by multiple associates. Josephine Bedding worked with her for a little while, but then it was my turn. Cameron wanted to purchase the Sausalito pattern in natural. However, she called it yellow. The executives at the store’s head quarters have a way will naming colors. Rather than blue, purple, red, or gray we have ocean mist, violet haze, cayenne, or granite. The plate was a sandy color, but I wouldn’t describe it a yellow.
She “LOVED” this color so much she asked if we had more dishes in the back. So I pulled on the dishes from the back and we proceeded to match and reorganize the colors into dark yellow, medium yellow and light yellow. She would take the plates into the other rooms of the store to check the colors in different lighting. I am obsessive at times however the Sausalito platter is a hand thrown dish that is hand painted by cheap labor in some foreign country; I would not expect perfection from a hand made product that is manufactured for the masses!!! But we stacked and organized, after all that is what I am good at doing.
The part that still baffles me is when the customer OODA loops me. They will do something so completely unexpected. The whole time I was helping Cameron I was telling myself that she will just return these dishes in a few weeks. But then out of nowhere with credit card ready to swipe she notices another set of dishes. She then starts mixing and matching patterns. Since the credit card was out, I boxed the dishes up on to be sold. You know what she said, “I think I will come back with the other dishes are on sale.” I did everything I was trained to do to close a sale and she does something unexpected. Rather than buying stuff to return it, she bought nothing!
I knew what I was getting into; I should have walked the other way. But I don’t work at Wal-Mart. No, I work at the Barn and it is Retail Challenge, not Retail Easy!!!! When the standards are set high you have to bring you have to bring you’re A-game everyday!