The customer is always right, but is everyone who walks in the door your customer?
The old-school theory is that everyone who walks in your door is a customer and the customer is always right! I’m challenging that belief. Everyone who walks through the door may not be your customer, they may be a time waster!
Those of us who work in the jewelry business feel that sometimes the customer is the enemy. I think we sometimes get very frustrated with the interruptions as custom jewelers. Most custom jobs take multiple days and endless hours to build and they’re very profitable if done properly. When we think about those people that eat up so much of our time with ridiculous questions like, “How much will it cost to replace the diamond that fell out of my ring?”, “I bought this online. Did I get a deal?” or the guy who walks in because he inherited some silver and wants to know what it’s worth. Are those people really our customers? Are those people really the enemy of efficiency? The enemy of profitability? Have they come into the store because they are looking for something we’re selling or just looking to gain something for nothing?
People often see those of us with storefronts as a place to get free knowledge. “I’ll just step into this jewelry store and ask if I got a deal online. They are there anyway, what else do they have to do?” We as store operators often see this as an opportunity, but is it?
Recently, I was wrapping up some work on a $22,000 sale of custom pendants. They were being mailed out of town that afternoon as soon as I could get them finished. A person comes into the store and asks the salesperson if I can change his watch battery. I asked that he leave the watch for me to get to later after I finished the pendants that needed to get shipped. The owner of the watch advised the salesperson that he was from out of state, leaving soon, and won’t be back. I said I’m not stopping this project until I’m finished. Okay, so I lost a $30 watch battery replacement. However, was this person our customer? He lived out of state. He didn’t seem to be interested in purchasing or even looking at what we had for sale in our cases. He simply wanted his watch battery replaced. Would I have gained a customer if I had done this watch battery? Probably not.
People walk into the store because they want to have a question answered. They come because they have a simple thing that they want to be fixed. Sometimes they want a watch battery replacement or maybe they just want to use the bathroom. Interruptions like these annoy jewelry store operators and bench jewelers in particular all the time. We tend to get very frustrated and think of these people as the enemy. These people are not your customers. They are the enemy of efficiency and profitability.
When we identify who our customers are when they walk in our door, we can give them the time and attention they deserve. So what can we do to asses if this is a customer or a time waster walking in the door? Greet them and ask “what brings you in today?” If they are just looking, let them. If they have a question give a short answer and don’t start a long conversation. If they want a quick repair or watch battery ask them to leave it. This gives you two chances to sell them and gives them a reason to give you their phone, name, etc. Perfect for clienteling.
You need to set the tone for every interaction in your store and remember not everyone who walks through your door is a customer!