Avoid being an argumentative Indian


Customers do sometimes get angry, whether or not their anger is justified — or even reasonable. A sales staffer might face a tirade because of some other employee’s gaffe. Or there may be no gaffe, and the customer creates a ruckus just to divert attention from their own mistake or forgetfulness.


The best way to tackle those situations is to not get provoked. To quote an old saying, “Rule No. 1: The customer is always right. Rule No. 2: If the customer is ever wrong, re-read Rule
No. 1.”

“Had I been in your situation, ma’am, things would have been worse. I really admire your patience,” I once said to a customer who had visited our store to get a ring repaired and ended up facing an unusually long wait. My words soothed her agitation and helped bring the situation under control.


Some customers approach our sales staff with broken or disfigured jewellery pieces, blame the brand, and refuse to admit to mishandling the jewellery. A salesperson simply cannot respond with a comment like “Aisa ho hi nahi sakta” (“It’s just not possible”). They must use their best listening skills to become an “active listener”. Actively sympathising with the aggrieved customer and showing respect and understanding go a long way toward strengthening the customer’s bond with the brand.


The confrontational approach, as any salesperson should know, leads nowhere. So a sales staffer should keep their argumentative side under wraps — no matter how desperate they are, in their own mind and heart, to counter the customer’s argument. After all, a salesperson’s responsibility is not to win an argument but to win the consumer’s heart and reinforce the bond with the brand.

In this highly competitive market, customer acquisition has become extremely challenging. And if I may speak directly to sales staffers, you have to be at the top of your game — without going overboard. A few pointers to consider.


Every query, as they say, is an opportunity. A salesperson should set a follow-up alert after every query. If a potential patron comes to the store to enquire about the latest jewellery collection after noticing an advertisement, for instance, the salesperson should take a mental note and remember to inform and invite the same customer when the collection hits the store.


In my experience, regular updates on jewellery repair also work well in building trust. Keep in mind that the customer is entrusting the sales staff with an item of high emotional and material value. The salesperson responsible should honour this trust by keeping the customer informed at each stage of the repair process.


While taking orders, it is unwise to make promises that will be difficult to fulfill. Customer service is not an election that you win by offering bountiful promises. Your words and actions directly impact brand equity. If I feel there is an iota of doubt, I don’t make a commitment to the customer. The customer will try every possible trick to wring a deal out of you, but a sensible salesperson should know where to draw the line.

A yelling customer can get on your nerves. A salesperson shouldn’t take this customer’s adverse comments personally. The customer is in a situation that drives them to react in a certain way. That fiery encounter need not be the last act of the play. In different circumstances, the customer may be a different individual altogether.


Recently, on account of a miscommunication, I found myself in the middle of a showdown with a customer. I kept my head cool and moved on, but made sure to take mental note of her choices and preferences. A few days later, when the latest bangle collection hit our store, I called her up to inform her about the new arrival. She couldn’t hide her surprise. Eventually she came to the store to purchase bangles, and matured into a regular client.

Take everything in your stride. Every day is a new day.