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Miss Alex said

Sales Approach: How do you like to be served?

I’ve been going through notes and discussions and noticing quite a few people commenting on the underwhelming response they get from staff when they walk in, as well as other stores who are perceived as having staff be pushy.

I work for a location that gets a ton of business clientele. Many of our customers want to be in and out as fast as possible: that means no chit-chat, no samples, and no patience when it’s busy.

Keeping in mind that some stores and salespeople are required to sell a certain amount – when you walk into a tea store, what do you expect?

23 Replies

“may I help you with anything?”, at most, then leave me alone unless I indicate I need help. At the checkout, fast service and no chit-chat…at most a “have a nice day!”.

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Camiah said

I’m with Rumpus Parable, except I’m fine with a bit of chit chat at the checkout. I don’t need check out clerks telling me what I really mean to buy instead of the teas that I’ve asked for (it’s happened, at Teavana), I don’t need to be sold anything extra, and I’ll ask if I have questions. And please, don’t try and sell me on vague health benefits of tea. Be knowledgeable about the teas you have, if you don’t know an answer, own up to it, and see if someone else knows the answer. Don’t try to B.S. your way through it. Those are the attributes in a tea vendor I think would be valuable.

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Dinosara said

Yes, I tend to keep to myself usually, so I prefer to be left alone when I’m shopping. However, if I do need help and no one is around to help, that is nearly as annoying being bothered too much!

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OolongLily said

What do I expect? I expect to be underwhelmed or overwhelmed. XD

Stores like Teavana overwhelm you with useless, boring, annoying chatter and terrible sales tactics. Stores like Tao of Tea underwhelm and don’t even say, “hello.”

What I’d like, is to be engaged intelligently and for the sales person to assess the situation and identify my needs, but that’s asking a lot from an unobservant, unexperienced sales person. If I’m in a hurry and just need a cup of tea or 2oz of tea X and 3oz of tea Y, it’s pretty easy to tell I’m in a hurry. That would be a bad time for chatter – especially useless chatter. I looooove to casually peruse a good tea store though when I have the time. That would be a great time for someone to engage me in tea geek conversation so we can geek out.

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DC said

Quite a number of shops I went to in China, pretty much lets me sit down and let them brew some tea for me to try. There is no sense of being hurried to make a purchase or impatience, just enjoy a cup of tea and chatting around. Then they entertain my silly questions about tea with nary a sense of impatience.
That pretty sums up how I would like to be served.

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I would like someone to greet me when I enter the store, and then offer me a (brewed) sample of tea. I would like them to say something like, “Are you looking for anything in particular? What can I help you find today?” in a sincere manner. If I tell them, “I’m just browsing right now,” I’d like them to leave me alone but still remain accessible (e.g., don’t go and hide behind the counter or in the back room and chat with co-workers) in case I need help later. If I ask a question, I’d like them to give me their full attention while I’m asking and while they’re answering. If they don’t know the answer to my question, I’d like them to find another member of the staff who does, instead of just saying “I don’t know.” At checkout time, I don’t care if they chat with me or not, but I would like them to have a a pleasant demeanor and to offer me a free sample to take home (yes, I’m greedy like that) or a coupon for the next time I return, particularly if I make a large purchase.

In general, if they have a warm and friendly manner throughout, and seem genuinely interested in helping me, as opposed to meeting their sales quota, I can overlook a multitude of sales “faux pas-es.” Tea Gschwendner, which used to have a store near me, had excellent customer service — the sales clerks were helpful without being pushy or intrusive, and they seemed knowledgeable about tea.

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I am That Person. If I receive poor customer service, I do complain and if I get a poor response to that complaint, I don’t do business with them again. On the flip side, if I receive amazing customer service, I will contact the higher ups and tell them. But customer service is key. Tea…well, I love my tea, but there are very few teas I buy that couldn’t be found from another retailer if necessary (the exception being Verdant Teas’ offerings).

The employees at my local DavidsTea are amazing. They have customer service down to a science, and the one time I had an issue there was with a new employee, which they more than made up for. If I’m in a hurry, they fill my teas, cash me out, and I’m on my way. If I’m browsing or out to try the new teas, they stand and chat and help me out. Most of the employees know me and my wife by name, and I’d say almost all of them know me on sight. I love going there. I took my brother there while he was up, and despite it being busy, the guy who helped us took the time to talk to my brother, pull down teas for him to smell, get to know him enough to recommend teas, and just be amazing.

On the flip side, at Teaopia (the Canadian Teavana), the employees were rude and seemed to be annoyed by my presence. When they brought down the tins for me to smell, they waved the lid at the opening to “bring the scent out”. I know that’s company policy, but it’s a damn annoying one. Let me smell it without having to worry about being slapped in the face. And, when it came down to it, the tea wasn’t that great.

Just pay attention to your customer. If they’re in a hurry, it shows, and they’re not in the mood to chat. If they’re browsing or overwhelmed, help, but don’t be pushy about it. We can tell when someone is trying to just upsell us or is just interested in our money. Love tea and it’ll show. I spend hundreds at DavidsTea, and part of it is due to amazing customer service.

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Ninavampi said

Service in general is very very important to me in my deciding whether to purchase or not. I will also voice my opinion to the company if I felt that the attention I got was inadequate. I think that it is important that the opinion be out there because a lot of times, if someone doesn’t mention the problem, it can be easily overlooked…

I work in the administration of a large retail store in Ecuador and it is a tough job to make sure that everyone in the stores is well trained and performing correctly. I like for service to be cordial and straight forward. A “Welcome to shop X, how may I help you?” is indispensable. If the client doesn’t want to be followed or waited on, they should be left to wander with someone attentive enough to come to help if the client has a question or need.

Once the client has decided to purchase something, it is always nice to have something extra to offer (something that is related to what the client has chosen and may be of interest). If the client says no, then NO is NO. There should be no insisting, it is both uncomfortable for the client and a waste of time.

This is the way I like to be treated when I shop and also the way I like my salespeople to act when they sell. : )

This applies to teas just as well!

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Miss Alex said

When I walk into a store, I almost always know what I want and am engaging staff just to talk to them. Like most retail, I don’t want to be hassled about my actual purchases, so finding a naturally talkative tea bar attendant is great. We’re talking to talk. I take a special sort of joy in being sold (hearing that staffer’s pitch for) a tea I already like or am intending to by. It’s all about bonding over a mutual love of tea.

Interestingly enough, one of the things we’re asked to do is to continue showing teas until the customer says “I’ll get X and Y, I think”. It’s not meant to be a pushy tactic, the way we look at it is more… If you come in for X because you like the taste, but have never had XY, which is similar but not the same, we just want to show you what’s out there. It’s not meant to be an up-sell to purchase two teas.

At the risk of sounding cocky, it’s fairly easy to sell additional tea to a person who is already buying tea and is in a good mood. You don’t need to push the “right” customer for that sort of thing: you’re selling to someone who is receptive. If you get pushed around a lot in a store, you’re either in a chain where there is a tremendous sales pressure on the store or staff, or that individual is bad at reading your body language.

Uniquity said

Just wondering, what tea store do you work at?

Miss Alex said

Davids, in one of the Toronto locations.

Haha, now I’m wondering if I know you. XD

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A polite smile goes a long way to make a customer feel comfortable. Not a big toothy grin, or fake clown-like leer… just a nice smile, a quick offer of help, and maybe a question about what are some of my favorite teas.
Paying attention to the customer is also not so hard to do. There is nothing that will get me leave a store quicker than waiting to get a salesperson’s attention while they are texting or speaking to their significant other on the telephone.

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