Drugstore Dramas: Why Customer Experience Matters in 2016

In the past hour, all I wanted to do was buy a lip liner. Now I'm here writing a blog post about it. Clearly this situation has snowballed quickly.

Those who love me understand that makeup isn't just a small step in my daily routine, but a passionate affair that I just can't seem to shake. At this point, I basically eat lipstick for breakfast. I religiously watch product reviews and tutorials, follow dozens of beauty bloggers, anxiously await new product launches and lose sleep over looks I want try. So, when I go to buy a new product, there is no f**king around. A lot of thought goes into it first based on a number of factors that I've carefully calculated.

Today, as I excitedly entered my local drugstore to purchase a new product, an overly aggressive sales person shoved a bottle of lotion in my face and said "You should buy this! It's 40% off today." He didn't ask what I was looking for or if he could help, but instead bombarded me with information that I didn't ask for, need or want.

I insisted I was fine and headed toward the makeup isle, where he followed me and watched as I looked for a particular brand. "If you're looking for Essence, it's not here," he said. I was looking for Essence, so with this news I disappointingly moved onto peruse other brands to see if I could find a comparable product.

As I was beginning to look at something else, he stood directly in front of me (between me in the makeup aka BAD MOVE) and said "Essence isn't even good. You should use L'Oreal. They have great mascara and it's on sale today."

"I'm actually looking for a particular matte Essence lip liner. I don't need mascara."

Again, he ignored my feedback and continued pushing his mascara agenda without realizing that I was trying to distance myself from the conversation. "But you should buy the mascara. It's on sale and it's better than Essence," he repeated annoyingly.

"I know which brands are good and which aren't. I'm a makeup hoarder. Thank you for your help but I can look on my own from here."

"I know you can look on your own, but I want to help. You clearly don't know what you want."

Deep breath. Take a step back. What the f**k is really going on here?

This is when it became apparent to me: he believed that this interaction was about him, the store, not about me, the consumer. 

So basically...

As we approach 2016, it should be obvious that customer expectations are extremely high due to a tremendous amount of competition, both online and offline. Basically, if your brand doesn't strive to provide the best customer experience possible, there's no reason for me to walk out and spend my money somewhere else. So it's your loss, aggressive mascara man, not mine.

What I wish this salesman realized was that, it doesn't really matter how big or well-known your company is or how much revenue you're bringing in. If you treat your customers poorly, ignore their needs and feedback, assume that they "don't know what they want", and make the interaction about them instead of you, you've not only thrown away that person's money, but their social circles' money as well (assuming that they'll talk shit about you to everyone, like I'm doing right now.)

Here's what every sales person should realize from this devastating makeup experience:

1. Listen to your customers

If this sales person had simply listened to me from the beginning (or taken a look at my face), he would have realized that I know my shit when it comes to cosmetics. Instead, unsolicited, he ruined his chances of making a sale by talking about something that wasn't relevant to me. It was also a waste of my time, didn't teach me anything new, and didn't give me the solution I was looking for. Basically, he straight up ignored me to feed his own ego and agenda. If he had interacted with me in a genuine and natural way (not like an evil salesman robot), he would have heard and internalized my needs and helped me find a true solution.

2. Pay attention to body language and social cues

I can't believe I even have to explain this, but if a customer clearly doesn't need your assistance, leave them the f**k alone. Don't keep trying to talk to them, pushing irrelevant products on them and offering them unsolicited advice. Customers today aren't stupid; they can see through your agenda and no longer buy into canned or inauthentic methods of sales. Consumers today are also educated; they know what they want and have the resources to learn about a particular item, and you should treat them as such. This goes for online and offline sales (e.g. interruption marketing, cold calling, etc.) In a nutshell, just have some basic human awareness, interact in an authentic human-to-human way, and respect people's space and needs.

3. Have respect for people's time and attention

If you're a sales person who feels entitled to a customer's attention, rethink your job. When I walked into this particular store today, I was planning on spending less than five minute there since I had to get back to work. But, this sales person forced me to listen to him talk for over 10 minutes while I repeatedly tried to exit the conversation and explain that I didn't need his assistance. Because of this, I'll never walk into that store again because I associate it with time-wasting, annoyance, and plain disrespect.

4. Remember: the brand you're representing is bigger than yourself

Too often, sales people let their ego and emotions get in the way of their professionalism, destroying a customer's positive feelings about the brand and all that it represents. So, don't let your pride get in the way of a lifetime customer. It simply makes you a bad brand representative, and in this case, a makeup soul crusher.

5. It's 2016. Enough with the excuses.

If I were to show this post to the salesperson I'm referring to, I assume that his response would be something along the lines of "Oh come on, I'm ISRAELI! We Israelis are naturally pushy. You can't hold it against me." This has been said to me in many situations while traveling abroad to excuse inappropriate, rude or unprofessional behavior. But guess what: when it comes to sales and customer experiences in 2016, when everything is available on the internet in 100 different places, excuses just won't work. It's an international market, and anyone from California or from China can choose to buy your product from you, or they can buy it from a million other providers who treated them better. So yes, maybe you believe that cultural differences are valid for treating customers in a different way, but that won't score you a sale or reflect well on your brand.

Basically, just stop sucking. You can do it. And for all you makeup lovers out there: may your future shopping experiences be as perfect as your brow game.