I go to the mall everyday. Calling me a ‘mall rat’ would be a severe understatement. So far this year I have visited five different malls in four different states with my Christmas gift cards locked and loaded in my wallet. I grew up in the early 2000s and going to the mall was a form of entertainment for my friends and I. Our moms would drop us off and we would spend the afternoon goofing around and spending our paper route money on CDs and band tees. After high school was over my only aspiration was fashion and I found myself at the mall so often I eventually was offered a job at one of the shops.
When this happened everything I knew about shopping malls changed completely and I experienced for the first time what it was like being on the other side of the cash register. Everyone has their own vision when they think about going to the mall. For some it is a social experiment, dressing your best to meet new people despite knowing you will be taking your clothes off several times in a tiny, dull lit room. For others it is an obligation, a life long nightmare of sitting on benches and painfully carrying shopping bags while practicing patience. As an employee you see thousands of shoppers every week, some overly excited for the new trends and threads while others seem to have forced themselves out of the house and instantly regretted their decision as soon as they entered the parking lot. Whether you piled into the car with a smile and your friends or a headache and your family, one thing is inevitable; there will be someone waiting to talk to you inside every store.
As crazy as it sounds there will never be an empty store for you to successfully shop with a self-checkout by the door. Instead you will find a happy, energetic, associate awaiting your arrival. We live in an era where consumerism has warped our shopping experiences by becoming quite aggressive, destroying Holidays we once held sacred, and online shopping ruining our human ability to engage in conversation with friendly strangers. There are associates within the mall space who do not care about badgering a customer for the ultimate dollar but instead want to provide an absolutely wonderful customer experience. We made it our duty to ensure everyone looks the best they can regardless of financial or social status. Excitement spreads across our faces as we see you enter our store because it means you are also obsessed with our part of the fashion world and could possibly be our next best friend. The newest styles have been carefully and strategically merchandised on our shelves so we can present them to you, our beloved customer. I am one of those associates.
My customer’s experience is the most important thing about being a business owner. The truth is we have put blood, sweat, and tears into our shop and the only reward is watching a customer leave with a bag while thanking us and returning our smiles. Our favorite customer is the one who responds to our inevitable ‘hello’ and puts forth effort in letting us help them find their vacation wardrobe, their blind date attire, or their new school uniform. The one who does not ignore us when we try to spark up a conversation and make a new friend, but instead tells us of their exciting Spring break or Summer plans. We are here to help, not be ignored. The next time you get dragged to the mall to buy new pants or a bikini top, stop and remember those associates who are able and willing to help you look amazing. Respond to their greetings and make a new friend. In the end our customer’s experience depends on our customer.
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