Lessons Learned from Ann Taylor

Do people feel like they are bothering you when they are trying to give you their business?


Why is it that you can go into some stores and feel like you are a bother and then you enter another store, like Ann Taylor where you feel the people there are glad to see you? The other day I was shopping at the Natick Mall looking for something to wear to several evening events that are on my calendar. Like many of you, my idea of a good time no longer includes hanging out at the mall even if it does mean I may run into a friend or two. I want to get in, find something I like and get the heck out of there as fast as I can.


I began my excursion by targeting stores where I thought I could find what I needed and where people would be helpful. I decided to start with Nordstrom’s, because they are known for their customer service. The service was pretty good, but I found a limited selection of clothes, targeted to people with unlimited budgets. I left disappointed.

I then made my way through the mall stopping at a few shops where it quickly became obvious that I would not get the help I needed. There were either too few clerks or employees who appeared more interested in their cell phones than the people who were in front of them. I was on my way to Macy’s when I decided to dash into Ann Taylor just to see what they had. After looking around the store for a few minutes, I was approached by a young lady. My first reaction was to grab my purse, as it had been so long since someone in a retail store actually sought me out. I became more relaxed when I realized she was there to do no harm. In fact, she asked me if she could help me. I took one look at her and said yes. She was well put together herself and wasn’t dressed as if she had just left a college bar. I immediately felt confident that she could indeed help me find what I needed and that the experience would be pleasant.

We spent an hour together in the fitting room where we laughed as if we were old friends from high school. She ran back and forth bringing me different items that she thought would work for me. She told me in a nice way when items weren’t really for me and never pushed me so she could make a sale. In the end, I walked out of there one happy customer with a shopping bag full of clothes, who never even made it to Macy’s.

As she was ringing up my sale, I asked her for her name. She told me it was Erica and that she was the Assistant Manager. When I told her that I would be back to see her, she let me know that she was getting ready to graduate college and that she was transferring to a store in Connecticut. Lucky me, Erica is moving closer to where I live and I’m betting we will continue to stay in touch as I’m going to seek her out the next time I’m in need of an outfit.

So here’s my question to you. How many Erica’s do you have in your organization? I’m guessing none or not many based on the level of service I receive daily. Customers always have a choice as to whether or not they will be doing business with you or if they will choose to spend their money elsewhere. My advice to you is to find as many Erica’s as you can and do whatever it takes to keep these people. In my opinion, (and remember, I’m the customer) they are priceless!




Roberta Chinsky Matuson
Human Resource Solutions

Author of the forthcoming book: Suddenly in Charge! Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around (Nicholas Brealey, January 2011)

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About the author

For more than 25 years, Roberta Chinsky Matuson, president of Matuson Consulting, has helped leaders in Fortune 500 companies, including Best Buy, New Balance, The Boston Beer Company and small to medium-size businesses, achieve dramatic growth and market leadership through the maximization of talent. She is known world-wide as “The Talent Maximizer®.” Roberta, a leading authority on leadership and the skills and strategies required to earn employee commitment and client loyalty, is the author of the top-selling book, Suddenly In Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around (Nicholas Brealey, 2011), a Washington Post Top 5 Business Book For Leaders