@ The Gurukul


A Shivaram unlocks his wealth of experience exclusively with The Retail Jeweller through a series of Q and A.

 
Rajeev, Customer service associate, Reliance Jewels, Allahabad, UP
How should a salesperson handle walk-in customers who dilly-dally over low-value jewellery right before closing time? Such customers often ask for several pieces to be kept aside, saying that they will return the next day — which they usually don't. Is there way of saying that it is closing time without causing offence, and at the same time close a sale?

A Sihavarm (AS): We have all experienced shoppers who seem to be doing “TP”, or timepass, and yet end up as big customers if they like the products and shopping experience. It's only a few "regulars" who do TP at night, and it must be possible to remember them and suggest to them that they come back the next morning for more leisurely shopping. They will get the message.
If you sense that a new customer is doing TP, however, use your sale-closing techniques. One method is to say to the customer that the cashier counter will soon close for the night, and would she please confirm whether it should be kept open for her, and how would she like to pay — cash or card? This will politely constrain a customer to make a commitment to purchase or to let you know that she is just browsing. If she says she is just browsing, you can always invite her to come the following day!


Mahua, Senior sales executive, PC Jeweller, Kolkata
We do not give a price breakup for our jewellery — our gross and net price are the same.  While buying studded jewellery, however, customers often demand the price breakup. We explain that the difference is not much, adding that when we buy back the jewellery we weigh it along with the stones. But this cuts little ice and customers insist on the breakup, saying that they don't buy jewellery in order to sell it back. How can we convince them?

AS: It is always tough to change a consumer's habits, especially one who is used to getting a breakup. There are three solutions.
First, build a story around the product. With kundan, jadau, a diamond-studded platinum ring, one can play up the engagement or other relevant occasion. Stress the significance of the event for which the piece is being purchased, ask why discuss a breakup when buying for a happy occasion, and so on; this approach may help. Breakup is usually used when returning the item!
You can also use examples. Explain that the breakup offers only a notional satisfaction, like the current price of shares in the stock market versus the price at which you bought them, because the best price for a piece of jewellery is always offered by the jeweller who sold it, not any other.
Practice training using role-plays among the sales staff, with one person playing a customer and the others the sales champions. These “tough” questions need practice and improved answers.
Let me know how these suggestions work out, and we can help you improve upon them.

Rajesh, Sales Executive, Entice, Delhi
Often, customers bring with them a jewellery design to have it made to order. We study the design and note the desired size. We tell the customer in each case how much gold is required and that the quantity might increase or decrease while making. Only after final approval do we manufacture the piece. After delivery, however, the customer may well turn around and say that the finish and design is not up to the mark. We take their input and rework the jewellery. Sometimes the customer still refuses to take the jewellery and demands that we return the advance. This is a waste of our time and labour. How do we handle such customers?
  
AS: With a huge quantity of stock in the store it is always better to sell from stock. Only if that is not possible should we try the customer-order route.
If customisation is a sizeable portion of your showroom sales, then the sales staff has to be made thoroughly aware of exactly what kinds of customisation are possible, whether it is gold weight vs the look, spread, feel of design. 
This is often the weakest link in the chain, because sales staffers tend to overpromise to book an order at any cost, simply expecting the supply chain to deliver. This is how the problem starts.
Since showroom staff cannot be experts in custom manufacturing, you might consider setting up a videoconferencing facility at the showroom so that any finicky customer can explain what they want directly to your manufacturing person.
You might also try to include a “commitment charge” for customers who tend to be dissatisfied even when the product matches the design they approved. One way to do this is to use technology models that allow the customer to get a virtual look-and-feel sense of the piece. The charge for the use of this tech can be the commitment charge and is also comparable to the final piece.