Management has it all figured out. Upside-down and backwards.

Management has it all figured out. Upside-down and backwards.

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at



Management has it all figured out. Upsidedown and backwards.

Can I speak to the general manager of the store please?” I said in as friendly a manner as my mood would allow. “May I tell him who’s calling?” a woman inquires. “Jeffrey Gitomer.” I proclaimed. “And may I tell him what this is concerning?” she says with a whothehellareyou kind of tone. “Poor and rude service.” I reply curtly.

“One moment please.” She says.

“Kevin McCluskey.” A voice answers. (I actually didn’t hear it so I asked him to repeat it) “Kevin McCluskey,” he says more distinctly.

I proceeded to tell him the experiences of my nieces in his store. (see last weeks column). Lisa had tried to buy a necklace with her debit card. The computer posted a code30 and the clerks badgered Lisa about having a closed account, a spending limit, refused to call her bank to help, and treated her in an unfriendly, unhelpful, prejudicial, and demeaning manner when in fact, the account was fine and the computer had made an error.

I told McCluskey I thought the service provided to my niece was condescending and rude.

“Sounds to me like we acted appropriately.” Was his first response. I was stunned. “WHAT?” I screamed. “Well, perhaps they could have acted with a bit more diplomacy.” He said. “They could have been FRIENDLY!” I said in a loud voice. “Semantics.” He said. “Oh, my god!” I said. “You don’t get it. Couldn’t they have at least called Lisa’s bank?” “It’s not our policy to call peoples banks.”

“Pal, you are without a clue.” I said.

(get set, here comes the all time line of ignorance) “Sir,” he says, “I’ve been in this business for 30 years…” he was going to begin to give me a history lesson on how customers are supposed to act, but I interrupted.

“They walked out of the store without spending a dime, with a horrible feeling, went someplace else that was more friendly, and spent their money there.” I yelled. “You wouldn’t take yes for an answer. Aren’t you in business to try and get customers to buy?”

“Sir, I don’t see where we did anything wrong.” McCluskey said. And I said. “No, pal, you don’t SEE.”

And he hung up on me.

Dial tone.

Now I’ll admit I was mad. And I’ll admit that I was loud. But what MANAGER would have the audacity (or take the risk) to hang up on a customer? Oh, I forgot he’s been in the business for 30 years he already knew everything and I was just a stupid customer and a loud complaining one at that. He probably had to get back to a very important meeting or something. Yeah, that’s it.

But here’s the point.

Retail stores are there to do three things. Sell their stuff. Make a profit. And create loyal customers. My nieces may be young, but they are old enough to vote and in retail stores like Dillard’s, customers vote with their money. They choose to buy or not to buy based on the perceived quality of product, and the actions taken by the server mostly the latter.

Here are the major rules for retail sales people:

Be willing and ready to serve.

Let the customer keep her dignity.

Give the customer the benefit of the doubt.

Tell me what I can do, not what I can’t.

Figure out a way to ring the register.

Smile and be friendly.

Dillard’s people (in this incident) failed miserably on EVERY rule.

How would you score? How would your customers rate you after every transaction?

MAJOR CLUE OF RETAIL: If you can’t say yes to a customer call someone who can. Couldn’t the Dillard’s clerk have said, “Let me call my manager I’ll bet she can help us figure this out.”

Their “general manager” gave the worst rendition of service management I’ve seen in the past decade no wonder his people are rude they’re just following his lead. After 30 years in management, it’s pretty pathetic that all you can serve as is a bad example.

Even if the customer is upset, they’re still the customer.

Good managers show empathy and ask questions before they make a statement. “What would you have preferred?” “What do you think we should have done?” “Where can I send the necklace?”

MAJOR “AHHA” OF RETAIL: Word of mouth advertising is as powerful as advertising.

My nieces had a bad experience in Dillard’s and ended buying someplace else. Will they ever go into Dillard’s again? Not for a long time. How many others will they tell about this episode. As many as they see.

Today as I read the local paper, I saw a full page, full color add for the Dillard’s Department Store. A well done ad, must have cost a fortune. Its purpose is to get people into the store.

I wonder if they spent an equal amount of money training the people inside the store? You see, what they feel like once they get to Dillard’s, pales by comparison to importance of what the customer feels like when they leave.

Companies should match advertising dollars with customer service training dollars. That way, when the customer walks IN the door as a result of the ad they walk OUT of the store with the product they came for (spent their money) and a wonderful experience to talk about.

FREE GitBit …Want the three secret words of positive engagement when a complaining customer calls?” I’ll throw in three success strategies for hiring a winning team. Just go to click FREE STUFF then GitBit register and enter the secret words, “SECRET WORDS”.

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of The Sales Bible, and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless. President of Charlottebased Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at 704/3331112 or email to

1999 All rights reserved Don’t even think about reproducing this document or it’s contents without

the written approval of Jeffrey Gitomer or Buy Gitomer 704/3331112