Fine jewelry stores have long suffered the (too often, accurate) reputation of being intimidating. This comes largely from salespeople who size up a customer and treat them poorly based on (too often, inaccurate) assumptions. And they, of course, share this reputation with retail outlets for other luxury goods, especially high fashion.
Having been on the receiving end of such snootiness, I know it is sometimes outrageous (the Fortunoff salesperson who once told a friend and I, because we wanted to make small purchase five minutes before closing, to come back the next day); often insulting (the Milan boutique where, a bit worse-for-wear after a trans-Atlantic flight I actually had a salesperson follow me around silently—in a waiting-for-me-to-pocket-something way, not in a may-I help-you way); and, on occasion, comical (the cubby-hole sized jewelry store in Astoria, Queens, where a salesperson managed to ignore me for five minutes, despite our being in close enough physical proximity for me to know she’d had something with garlic for lunch).
One thing it never is? A good business practice.
JCK has been preaching for a looooong time that jewelers need to stop this intimidation practice. Given the economy, it is more important than ever, and fashion houses are taking the lead in a new customer-friendly approach to customer service (imagine that!). Check out this insightful and amusing New York Times article offering ideas on how to change that reputation, and reporting that even salespeople who work in the snootiest of snooty addresses: Madison Avenue, are “being trained to exude a level of customer service rivaling that of Disney.”
I hope jewelers everywhere are wisely doing the same.