Parrot, Pigeon, Peacock, Owl, Or Hawk? – The Service Indian Customers Want From Shop Assistants

The topic this time is about the service you receive at the shops, not the 'customer care' which happens after the purchases.

Since MIRCHI KOMACHI is an online clothing brand, the only place for us to 'attend customers at the shop'  is at the events. When such events approach, I become nervous.
I am not good at attending customers. I have a number of job experiences in Japan, but still am not good. Let alone doing it in India. I still don't know what the best way for Indian customers is.
I talk about attending customers this time.

image of Yoshiko Inoue at a stall at Cactus Communications

 

Shower Of Words

At events, I see other stall owners talking a lot about the products from the moment customers come. 
My guy (who always helps with my stall) also tells me, 'After the greeting, you should keep talking. A LOT more! Indian customers want to be talked to'.
Is it true? Of course the contents matter, and of course depends on the person, but... Do you want to hear me before you ask? 
For my own health, I would need to consider some funny talk which breaks the thick (for me) ice in a second.

image of a clown selling baloons

 


Lock-on Or Bouncer

When I go to malls or supermarkets, the shop staff approach me. Like, APPROACH.
They come as close as 40 cm to me. When I move, they also move with the 40 cm distance. 
It doesn't mean they're observing my every move to find out my requirement. They are rather very curious about my face, hair, outfit, my bag, everything but my requirement. When I want to pick up something on the shelf, they don't notice it and are standing right in front of it, being a big nuisance. Are they trying to drive away the customers who disturb their chatting? Or are they afraid I would grab the most expensive cream and slide it into my bag?

For me, I want the shop assistants to pretend to do some trivial work (hence, not staring at me straight) near me, yet caring my moves and being prepared to answer my questions.
At the events as well. If a shop owner is standing straight in front of the stall and staring at the customers who might come into her 'nest', isn't that scary?! But my guy tells me, 'Hey, you should stand in front of the stall' when I'm adjusting the hangers etc. Is it really better?

Image of a man standing in front of his products

 


Style Icon

In Japan, in the shops of apparel/cosmetic brands, the staff are required to wear/use their products and look perfectly cool/beautiful.
This makes sense. If a shop staff with damn cool styling on herself suggests you, 'what about matching this and this?', you might feel like trying what the fashion guru says. Or you might feel like asking for makeup tips to a shop staff whose make-up is perfect AF.

And you surely wouldn't feel like discussing the cool modern styling of sarees or the latest colours of lipsticks with the Bhaiya/Uncle at the shops.

 

Indian Traditional Shops

In the 'normal' shops in India, customers are not supposed to pick up things themselves but ask the sales people to show their recommendations and narrow down to the exact thing they want.
One such shop where I frequently go is fabric shops. When the shop Uncle asks me, 'what do you want? Cotton, silk...', if I dare say, 'cotton...', he would spread 30 fabrics one after another saying things like 'pure cotton 100% good quality nice print' without breathing.
If my target is very particular like 'indigo, stripe', I can just tell him so. But when I am just looking for "something damn cute & quirky (from my taste) for blazers", this method would take a whole day. Therefore, first I see all the shelves, then ask them, 'please pull out this, this, and that', and start examining.

image of a supermarket aisle without any person

In Japan these days, we don't have many opportunities to do shopping at small retail shops, because supermarkets are way more dominant. It's a sad fact that they're more convenient and cheaper with huge varieties. We're too used to the environment where we can complete shopping without communications. So this traditional way of shopping through conversation is a bit cumbersome for me. But originally, "shopping" must have been a human interaction like that. I must be a creepy customer in India. 

 

Concept Of Attending Customers

I can find many many articles/blogs/videos on the internet in Japanese about customer attendance tutorial. But when I search those from India, there are not many. Do you think gaining customers by good customer service is not really a common/popular strategy yet in India?

The salespeople, I personally feel, who are smarter than some of those in the malls are the cigarette stall Bhais. They remember which brand (and long/short) I bought when I visited the stall only once before!
When I approach the stall, he directs a piercing look at my eyes, sees my data in front of his eyes like RoboCop (with a text "target locked"), and grabs the much-awaited moment to proudly (yet nonchalantly) ask, 'Chota wallah XXX, na? How many d'you want?'.
...Wouldn't you shout, 'Go-getter, aren't ya'? Wouldn't you secretly swear, 'My patronage is yours, Bhaiya'? 

image of a man throwing towards the target

 
I think the very basic important thing is the 'Welcome!' feelings, to remember customers as individuals and treat them special.
And then, techniques like where to stand in the shop, how to talk, etc. should be learned in my observation. I need to learn what makes Indian customers the most comfortable.

I would so much appreciate if you could tell me your thoughts about shop assistants.

 

 

Bonus

This has not much to do with the contents, but it's a bonus video.
It's from a Japanese TV programme about the "cool performance" of an Indian shop staff. 
A triadic comedian visits his shop and finds that actually he's doing many unnecessary moves to make noise, and one of them copies the performance.

 

 


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