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Ask Retail Gurukul



Surendra Kumar Yadav, sales executive, PC Jeweller, Jaipur
People come to the showroom to ask about gold rates and making charges. They compare us with other organised and branded players. They ask questions about price difference. It is a challenge for us. What is the best way to deal with such queries?

First and foremost, get used to customers asking lots of questions. Be ready with appropriate answers. Most customers have the same questions to ask. Do you have your best set of answers practised and ready? If not, you should.

Indians believe that bargaining alone gets them the best price! Whether you are a branded or “unbranded” retailer, customers will seek the lowest possible price. With unbranded retailers, customers will bargain to the utmost. At a branded retailer, it may not be possible to bargain — but customers will still try.

Daily gold price fluctuations are known to customers. It is only when the price is perceived to be high that they will ask about it. They may tell you that neighbouring shops are cheaper, without actually having checked.

Therefore, the best way to handle these queries is to identify the typical questions on price fluctuation, keep your answers ready and deliver them with conviction. “Yes, ma’am, our gold price may be slightly higher, but of the total jewellery price, this is a small percentage. We offer hallmarked 22k jewellery, great designs and excellent finish. I am sure you will agree a small price difference for the gold is worth it.”

Deepak Nagi, senior sales executive, Le Khanna Jewellers, Ludhiana, Punjab I have been working with Le Khanna Jewellers for three years, and in this industry for about 15 years. My long-term goal is to be an assistant senior manager or senior manager in a store. What qualities does a person with my length of experience require to reach that landmark?

If you have been a counter staff assistant, you understand customers and have good selling skills. These alone are not sufficient to bring you to managerial position. A manager’s responsibility is much broader: to manage a team of staff, handle customer relations, be on top of inventory management, and so on.

I recommend that you reflect on the various responsibilities given to your own managers, and volunteer to take up some of them. With this you will begin to understand and deliver on the expectations of that role. If you do a good job as a volunteer manager, I am sure your company will recognise your ability and reward you accordingly.

Priyanka Chatterjee, sales executive, Shyam Sundar Jewellers Kolkata
During the festive season, sometimes we run a special offer of 0 per cent making charge. A few customers then ask us, why no making charge? The scheme is to their benefit but they think we have at the same time increased diamond prices. It is difficult for us to explain this situation to them. What should we do?

Customers today are better informed than ever before. As they know perfectly well, businesses are set up to make a profit. So if a retailer says it will charge less, customers are likely to question the “genuineness” of the deal.

The retail brand in question has to work to build consumer trust, so that it will have credibility when it says that it has not increased rates in diamonds to compensate for the temporary relief on making charge, and that the rates for diamonds will stay the same even after the scheme ends.

One way to help the customer understand is to display products with different making charges in the showroom. You can explain that sometimes you “overbuy” to meet customer expectations and, if your expectations are not met, your priority is to recover the investment rather than hold on to inventory. As long as the customer likes the design, it’s a good deal for them.

Azim Sheikh, floor manager, Waman Hari Pethe, Mumbai
Customers always argue over the making charge for gold and diamond jewellery. We understand that buyers expect discounts, and sometimes we do offer discounts. But when there is no scheme in force, customers remember the last scheme and persistently demand that we reduce the making charge. At such times it is very difficult for us to convince customers.

Customers are like that only! Once they realise they can get discounts under various schemes, they will naturally expect discounts even when there is no scheme. What’s more, at any given time they are likely to know which showroom offers discounts, and which doesn’t.

One way of getting around this problem is to offer the customer something other than an instant discount. Options include gifts, discount coupons on a subsequent purchase, membership in a loyalty programme, and so on.

Another way is to showcase a range of products that are available at a discount. (Bata footwear showrooms do this year-round.) You can guide the customer who insists that discounts alone will make them decide whether or not to buy, to that range. Try it out and let us know which works, or not, for you.

Rohit Singh, store manager, SRS Jewells, Faridabad, Haryana
We have faced a situation with certain customers who purchase diamond jewellery only to return in a month’s time with damage to the pieces, claiming a manufacturing fault. We check and typically realise that a damaged prong or some such issue indicates clearly that the customer was at fault. We repair and return, but the customers are back again a month later, with yet another complaint. At this point we take back the damaged piece and refund the customer via cheque, with a 10 per cent deduction. This is not only inconvenient, we also face loss of customer satisfaction. Can you help us solve this problem?

Do you know, tax aggregator apps Ola and Uber now allow drivers to rate their customers, and not just vice versa? Customers get lower scores if they behave poorly.

I’m sure you have only a few such uncongenial customers. You probably know who they are. At the time of the sale you can find a way to communicate to such people about “others” who make such claims, and what deductions are applicable. I am sure they will get the message.

Also consider marking the warranty card with a “black star code” so that other staffers in your showroom can be made aware of probable misuse.

For repeat complaints from the same customers, the best path is to increase the deduction percentage. These customers are probably playing with you. So, implement a deductions regime like the following. First time, free repair. Second time, 15 per cent deduction. Third time, 25 per cent deduction. And so on. Your exploitative customers will no longer come for exchange.

Since this issue appears to be confined to a few customers and a single outlet, you can try out this policy change there for a few months before rolling it out across the entire chain.

Savita Sharma, sales executive, Nikkalmal Jewellers, Ludhiana, Punjab
When a customer asks questions about diamond jewellery — price, quality or anything else — we do our best to clear their doubts. Often, however, the customer is not satisfied by our answers. In this case we call in our managers or even the owner. What the seniors say the customer will straightaway believe, even if it is exactly what we have been telling them. I want to know how to command a similar degree of trust from the customer, so that they don’t immediately take their query to a senior.

It’s nice to know that you really want to take responsibility for closing a sale and that you want to learn how.

Diamond purchases are typically higher-value, and many customers are not sure that they are making the right purchase. They feel reassured when somebody older and more responsible confirms that their purchasing decision is right. We all want someone else to help us decide, when it is important.

Take the following four steps.

If for every diamond transaction you need your supervisor’s support, then please work to improve your communication skills. It is all right to ask for a supervisor’s help once in a while, not every time.
Challenge yourself to close the very next sale on your own. This will help you build belief in your selling skills. Try it, you will be surprised. Never underestimate yourself!
Work with a colleague right from the start of the selling process, so that they can act as a “supervisor”. Ask for their help during the sale process, so that the uncertain customer can feel reassured in the decision by the attention of two people.

If, when you are closing the sale, your supervisor or owner are not available in the “selling area”, explain to your customer that you are the right person to help them through this because you know their tastes and expectations. Reassure them that they have got the best deal possible.

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