Don’t Judge A Book (or a Customer) By Its Cover

 In Be The Leader, Create Community, Remarkability

After working at a flagship Ralph Lauren location for over three years, I can easily tell you that when it comes to customers – I’ve seen it all! Celebrities, royalty from Saudi Arabia, tourists from all over the world, people in t-shirts and jeans, and people in fancy clothes all walked through the doors. And I can tell you another thing: what a customer is wearing has nothing to do with what they will or won’t buy, or how loyal of a customer they will be.

Some of our highest spending customers came in wearing sweaty gym clothes and tennis shoes. That’s not to say that we didn’t have high-spending clients who dressed to the nines come in and shop because we did. But, the important thing was that both customers were always treated the same.

Your job (and the job of your team) is to make every customer feel as if they are a welcome guest in your home. Would you refuse to answer the door if a guest showed up wearing sweatpants? I would hope not!

Part of our employee training at Ralph Lauren was to watch a video on just that – how to make customers feel comfortable in your home: by greeting them warmly, offering them a cold bottle of water, and catering to their every request. We saw testimonials from top sellers across the company, and also watched the infamous scene from the movie Pretty Woman, in which Julia Roberts’ character is refused service at a ritzy boutique on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills due to the way she is dressed. She returns the next day, dressed in a beautiful suit and flush with shopping bags from all over Beverly Hills only to let the saleswomen know that they had made a BIG mistake (HUGE!) in not helping her the day before.

[Click to view movie clip]

[Click to view movie clip]

When you make assumptions about what a customer will or won’t buy based on how they’re dressed, you’re doing a disservice to the customer and to your business: they don’t get the help they deserve, and you miss out on an opportunity to gain a new loyal customer. But, by providing exemplary service to every customer, they’ll all walk away with the same thing (even if they don’t buy anything): a fantastic experience, and reason to spread the good word about your business.

Pretty Woman image © Touchstone Pictures

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