The Rulebook of Closing Every Kind of Customer

The Big Customer Study
: IJ News Service
01 May 2019 3:17 PM
Reference: 11806
Senthil Kumar, Managing Director, Sumangali Jewellers, Coimbatore

The most successful retailers in the world are the ones who have managed to master the art of customer service. There are innumerable management books and how-to dossiers on the art of customer service, but there is no one single approach to win the hearts of the customers. At the end of the day, you are in the service industry (kind of), dealing with people’s emotions and no book or management class can teach you what real life experiences can. Vijetha Rangabashyam speaks to jewellers from 8 different cities to understand how they identify a potential customer and what these customers want, how and what they sell them and more importantly, how they deal with a problematic, difficult client.

this business, everything rests on the customers. Call it an occupational hazard if you will, but whether you make it as a successful business owner or not lies on the whim of a customer. But it is also true that from the time they enter your store till the time they leave, it is completely up to you as a jeweller whether they leave with a piece of jewellery or not. There are all kinds of customers you may witness in your tenure as a jeweller; the overly enthusiastic know-it-all, the desperate gift shopper who is clueless about jewellery, extremely finicky hard-to-please bridezillas, the eternal discount demander, Mr/Ms.Temper Tantrum – the list is endless. Be that as it may, your role as a jeweller is to please and make every customer who walks into your store comfortable and happy.

With jewellery and in India especially, emotions come into play. By and large, people come into your store to buy for a happy occasion, a wife’s birthday, a daughter getting married, the birth of a grandchild, a couple’s 40th anniversary so on and so forth. Though the mood in general is festive, which may be of great advantage to you, you can’t just paint all the customers with the same brush. So we thought we would hear it from the horse’s mouth – how these successful jewellers behave with customers, how they tackle a difficult situation, how they ensure the customer buys, the kind of training they offer their sales staff and so much more.

01 The Humble Examiner – Give him Everything you’ve Got

“We have a lot of high end customers who like to buy antique jewellery but at the same time they are very price conscious,” says Senthil Kumar of Coimbatore-based Sumangali Jewellers. “If there is quality then they don’t mind going the extra mile when it comes to price. In the south it is very straightforward, the price is based on the weight and yes, they always try to haggle on wastage and making charges,” he says.

“A customer once walked in and asked me to sell a piece of jewellery to him at cost price. I did the same because I knew he was a very high profile customer and I just wanted him to come to my store and make him a permanent client. After that they have given me crores worth of business. Now we are very close and the customer confessed that they wanted to test me. They were also surprised that I sold the piece at cost price,” he says.

Tricks of the Trade

Always give more value, keep innovating and be ahead of your competitors and when they walk into your store, treat them like family however corporate you are.

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

In the South, you can’t judge the person based on their appearance. We have a lot of clients who come from villages. They may come in a normal car but will buy ten times more than a person who drives a 7 Series because they have targets – if it is a marriage then they have a figure in mind about how much jewellery they want to buy.

sold a piece to a customer at cost price because I knew he was a high profile client. I just wanted him to come to my store and make him a permanent client. After that they have given me crores worth of business. Now we are very close and the customer confessed that they wanted to test me. They were also surprised that I sold the piece at cost price - Senthil Kumar, Managing Director, Sumangali Jewellers, Coimbatore “We have a lot of high end customers who like to buy antique jewellery but at the same time they are very price conscious,” says Senthil Kumar of Coimbatore-based Sumangali Jewellers. “If there is quality then they don’t mind going the extra mile when it comes to price. In the south it is very straightforward, the price is based on the weight and yes, they always try to haggle on wastage and making charges,” he says. “A customer once walked in and asked me to sell a piece of jewellery to him at cost price. I did the same because I knew he was a very high profile customer and I just wanted him to come to my store and make him a permanent client. After that they have given me crores worth of business. Now we are very close and the customer confessed that they wanted to test me. They were also surprised that I sold the piece at cost price,” he says. Takeaways Customer is King and you can’t refute that. If they are generally unhappy we try to appease them with the amenities we have. We show them all the designs possible but if they are not happy with any design then we offer to take customised orders and we even show them sketches, because these kinds of clients don’t want to see anything readymade, they want something that hasn’t been seen before. They want to be the only ones to own such a piece. You will have to go beyond your comfort zone to make them happy. sold a piece to a customer at cost price because I knew he was a high profile client. I just wanted him to come to my store and make him a permanent client. After that they have given me crores worth of business. Now we are very close and the customer confessed that they wanted to test me. They were also surprised that I sold the piece at cost price - Senthil Kumar, Managing Director, Sumangali Jewellers, Coimbatore “We have a lot of high end customers who like to buy antique jewellery but at the same time they are very price conscious,” says Senthil Kumar of Coimbatore-based Sumangali Jewellers. “If there is quality then they don’t mind going the extra mile when it comes to price. In the south it is very straightforward, the price is based on the weight and yes, they always try to haggle on wastage and making charges,” he says. “A customer once walked in and asked me to sell a piece of jewellery to him at cost price. I did the same because I knew he was a very high profile customer and I just wanted him to come to my store and make him a permanent client. After that they have given me crores worth of business. Now we are very close and the customer confessed that they wanted to test me. They were also surprised that I sold the piece at cost price,” he says. Takeaways Customer is King and you can’t refute that. If they are generally unhappy we try to appease them with the amenities we have. We show them all the designs possible but if they are not happy with any design then we offer to take customised orders and we even show them sketches, because these kinds of clients don’t want to see anything readymade, they want something that hasn’t been seen before. They want to be the only ones to own such a piece. You will have to go beyond your comfort zone to make them happy.

sold a piece to a customer at cost price because I knew he was a high profile client. I just wanted him to come to my store and make him a permanent client. After that they have given me crores worth of business. Now we are very close and the customer confessed that they wanted to test me. They were also surprised that I sold the piece at cost price - Senthil Kumar, Managing Director, Sumangali Jewellers, Coimbatore

Ishu Datwani, Founder, Anmol Jewellers, Mumbai

02 The Obnoxious Accuser – You can be firm without being Impolite

“Two women walked into my store and I was dealing with them myself,” says Ishu Datwani of Anmol Jewellers, Mumbai. “I have dealt with rude customers in the past, but one of the women was obnoxious. She spoke to me in a manner that was unbecoming for no rhyme or reason and I hadn’t done anything to provoke her. I could also see that the other lady with her was clearly embarrassed by her behaviour. My saleswoman was standing next to me and I remember her looking at me for some sort of communication to basically let her know that she tell the woman off. But I kept my cool. They left the store and her friend called me 15 minutes later – she profusely apologised for her friend’s behaviour and informed me that she was going through a divorce.”

There are times when clients tend to use you as their punching bag because of a personal crisis, you never really get to know their back story but as a business owner, one has to be calm. “She showed me her caliber, but I have to show mine, I don’t have to stoop low because someone else is. If someone is accusing my brand of something, I will ensure that I will put that person in their place in a very firm but polite manner. I don’t have an ego but I have self worth and at Anmol we don’t compromise on our value systems. When a person is accusing you of being a cheat, you should stand up for yourself and try to correct the person firmly without being obnoxious or using derogatory words,” advices Ishu.

Takeaways

There are two kinds of customers. One is a dream-come-true, who takes quick decisions and buys and the other will take forever to decide, won’t be happy with any piece you show them. Basically one offsets the other and the only way to deal with every kind of customer is patience. “Believe me, I have had so many customers, who have walked in to just while away their time with absolutely no intention of buying. But with patience and the belief that one day they will potentially buy, we have managed to turn some of them into permanent customers who still buy jewellery from us.”

Tricks of the Trade

Don’t judge your customer based on what they are wearing, don’t be pushy, the best way to sell is to not to sell and always think long term

Training Wisdom

When I train my sales staff, I tell them to never assume that the person is not going to buy it has to be the other way around, you have to assume that they will buy. I believe that when you are selling, you transfer your vibes to the person in front of you, so you can’t begin with negative thoughts

I have been in the jewellery business for 37 odd years. Honestly, there is no sure-shot way of identifying a potential customer. But once you get talking to them, with their body language, you can somewhat gauge whether he or she is sincere about buying or they have just walked in with the intention of passing time. You just cannot judge their intention based on physical appearance as I have had extremely put together, well-dressed customers walk away with nothing and very simple, chappalwearing folks buying a substantial amount of jewellery from me. – Ishu Datwani, Founder, Anmol Jewellers, Mumbai

Ankur Anand, Managing Director, HSJ, Lucknow

03 The ONE WHO THREATENS TO SUE – Hear, 03 Apologise & Offer a Solution

Lucknow-based Harsahaimal Shiamal Jewellers (HSJ) opened its flagship store in 2017 and they have been attracting a flurry of customers since – from middle class to elite. “It all depends on the profile of the store,” says Ankur Anand, Managing Director, HSJ. “There was a client who finalized an order over the phone – basically he had seen the image but when the actual piece was ready, he said he felt cheated. Even after showing him all the specifications, the weight of the gold, diamonds and polki used, he was still not convinced. It came to a point where he was threatening to sue us with a civil suit. This is the point where I entered. I offered him my apologies, listened to what he had to say and his complaints. I told him that he can use the current piece if he needs it immediately, but I will exchange it with the product that has all of his specifications without any loss once the product is ready.”

Takeaways

Interaction is everything a client needs. Approach a client very professionally – first use your greeters, if they are not able to fulfill the clients then use your floor managers who have the maturity level to absorb what the client is trying to express. At the end of the day, you need to understand what the client is trying to communicate.

Training Wisdom Tricks of the Trade

Brand building should not be taken as an expense but an investment, show the customer everything you’ve got because word-of-mouth is so vital in this business, and everybody talks about jewellery during family functions.

The body posture of submission is key because the client can also read your body language. Interaction is everything a client needs. Approach a client very professionally – first use your greeters, if they are not able to fulfill the clients then use your floor managers who have the maturity level to absorb what the client is trying to express. At the end of the day, you need to understand what the client is trying to communicate – Ankur Anand, Managing Director, HSJ, Lucknow

Karan Vaidya, Manager, Marketing & Retail Operations, The Rose Group

04 The Dream Come True Client – Build a Bond for Life

A customer was being attended by my staff. She was just looking at a pair of Punjabi gold peepul Patti earrings. She looked simple yet attractive and was with her husband who was very quiet. She took only 10 minutes to decide on a pair worth Rs 1 lac,” says Prerna Khurana of Amritsar-based Khurana Jewellery House. “I just happened to over hear her c o nve r s a t i o n wherein she was enquiring about the Golden Temple. I figured that she is not a local and was interested in our local jewellery. I intervened and started a small chitchat with her. She was quite friendly and good to talk to. I showed her an exclusive diamond ring from my stock. She happened to like it immediately and asked me if I could deliver it to her place and take the payment from there. She got more comfortable with me and I also offered her some help during her stay here,” adds Prerna. “That particular customer has been one of my best till date because she continued to buy from me later even though she resides in another city. She frequently visits Amritsar or even orders over phone as we built quite a good rapport with each other. Today she turns to me for all sorts of jewellery advices or purchases and is a very good buyer and also a good friend,” says Prerna.

Who is a potential client?

A potential customer comes and looks with interest and does not just browse. It is her eyes and excitement that speaks. He or she shows signs like talking about the product being shown to him or her. She will talk about what she likes and what she doesn’t like and will enquire about details and will be inquisitive to know more about the product. She will shortlist a few pieces and try them on and admire herself in the mirror. Many a time, a customer would like a piece but not buy it immediately but she will come for it later.

Takeaways

Sometimes a person who has come to buy a small item converts into a great customer if dealt properly and with spontaneity. These kinds of customers neither have a budget nor do they buy for occasions. They have money and they would have a lot of jewellery already yet they will buy if they like something exclusive and also if they are comfortable with the way they have been dealt with. The attraction for such customers is purely design.

Tricks of the Trade

Read your customer as they give signs and signals about what they are inclined to buy. He or she should also be made to believe that you like her taste and and the jewellery suits her style and personality. Try to show her selective things according to her preference. Make the effort of praising her when she tries the jewellery on with modesty because it really suits her and not because you want to sell the product.

I happened to attend a customer who never said a word – she was quiet. She had no reaction to whatever I showed her and had no facial expression. She was so difficult to read and was quite unfriendly to my gestures. So to break the ice, I gestured my staff to get a few sets from the inside which I had not shown to other customers as they had just arrived. She finally showed some interest in the so declared “new stock” and started trying them out. She put her hands on something et voila, I closed the deal! – Prerna Khurana, Director, Khurana Jewellery House, Amritsar

05 The Chic Luxury Lover – Sell them a Story

“Our customers are global shapers who have the world at their feet so as a brand in the luxury space we have to create innovative products as well as unique experiences to create an aspiration for our customer base to desire our jewellery and brand,” says Karan Vaidya of Mumbai based The Rose Group. These kinds of customers are fashions forward who want jewellery that is stylish but will yet stand the test of time so that it can be enjoyed by the family for generations to come. Every piece that The Rose Group creates, be it a wedding band or even a mangalsutra needs to be created differently with a Rose twist so as to appeal to our trendy clients who aspire for bespoke pieces regardless of the budget.

“To sell luxury, you have to live it and love it first. If you want luxury customers to come to your store, your experience needs to be better than what they get in the comfort of their own palaces. If you want them to purchase your product, you need to create something that is differentiated and has its own story for someone who already has everything to desire one of your creations,” adds Karan.

Takeaways

Jewellery is not a commodity business but a service business. Hence, customer is always the King! While the shortsighted players may compromise on quality for short term profit; it is the jewellers who create trust and aspiration will be those with a loyal customer base and end up being the winners in the long run!

Tricks of the Trade

When selling, you need to understand the profile of the client and their tastes and then showcase your products accordingly. In today’s mobile generation we live in, the customer has a very short attention span and thus, their first impression is the most important.

People buy jewellery for anniversaries, birthdays and weddings. While jewellery was earlier treated as an asset and didn’t need an occasion, times are changing and our industry is moving towards becoming more occasion centric. This has affected the business and people’s sentiment has grown negative over the past few years. Instead of looking at the situation pessimistically, I believe it is time for us as an industry to accept the change in the consumer’s spending patterns and adapt. If Hallmark could understand the occasion centric nature of their business and create occasions like Valentine’s Day for people to buy cards more than a century ago, why can’t we as jewellers innovate and create more occasions for people to spend on jewellery? – Karan Vaidya, Manager, Marketing & Retail Operations, The Rose Group

Siddharthaa Sawansukha, MD, Sawansukha Jewellers, Kolkata

06 The Clueless Gift Giver – Show them something Fancy

“We get many clients who are looking for gifting solutions for their loved ones but are clueless about jewellery,” says Siddharthaa Sawansukha of Kolkata based Sawansukha Jewellers. “Usually we start by getting to know what they have in mind. Mostly, conceptually they are unsure. Once they unwind about their taste and budget we give them ideas on what would look best. As we believe jewellery has memories attached to it. Everything fades but what remain are the memories,” he adds. With such customers, the kind of jewellery showed are rings, pendant sets, danglers, bracelets or bangles depending on the age bracket of the one receiving the gift. “These days, fancy cut diamonds like princess, heart, triangle and pear are very popular. We suggest solitaire rings with such fancy cut diamonds in tasteful band designs along with the service of engraving. Sometimes we even customize the jewellery with joint initials of the names of the couple on bracelets and lockets. We also suggest piecut diamonds in different shapes as they make a good option in terms of uniqueness of the gift,” he says. In the retail industry one would have clients with all kinds of requirements, tastes and budgets. “If I have to recall one incident then there was a couple who came to purchase a diamond necklace set. They were looking for an exclusive design that would be unique in all aspects. Our executives displayed the best range of collection that is trending. However they seemed not very satisfied. Among the selected pieces they wanted something from each design but seemed clueless about the outcome. So our in-house designer sketched the design as per the client’s feedback. However, they seemed reluctant. We vouched to execute the design for real with the assurance that upon make if they are not 100% satisfied we will keep it with us. With the time constrain it was a challenge we took but we were confident on our craftsmanship. With additional manpower on urgent basis the sketch was given a breath of life and the outcome was indeed phenomenal. The client was elated with the entire service and what made the entire situation most memorable was when they said, “We tried so many options but what you could deliver that too in such a short span of time and so brilliantly has bowled us over.”

Training Wisdom

It is every important that the sales executive builds a good rapport with the client as it is the most vital aspect of building a strong foundation for a long term relationship. Unless the customer gets comfortable, a bond won’t be feasible. The prime concern remains on what they are looking for and how we can help them in meeting their requirements. At Sawansukha the executives are known for their endurance, love and warmth that are wholeheartedly extended to their clientele.

Takeaways

Consumers have become fashion and brand conscious. They are aware of what’s trending and how to inculcate the same in their styling. They are very much knowledgeable about the colour palettes, designs, patterns and how to combine jewellery with their attire for every occasion

Tricks of the Trade

Going by the requirement of the customer help the client shortlist the design while explaining what is trending and how it would look. To enhance the feeling of the d-day the store has customized capes in beautiful motif with zari/gota work as they feel visual perception is more catching. Sizing/length if required can be customized and the sales rep gives them add on tips on the best outcome. The brand’s best wishes for the wedding is sealed in the jewellery that is crafted with immense love and passion.

Consumers have become fashion and brand conscious. They are aware of what’s trending and how to inculcate the same in their styling. They are very much knowledgeable about the colour palettes, designs, patterns and how to combine jewellery with their attire for every occasion – Siddharthaa Sawansukha, MD, Sawansukha Jewellers, Kolkata

Kartik Khanna, Creative Director, Khanna Jewellers, New Delhi

07 The Finicky Bride – Show, Suggest & Never Force

“Unlike other countries, India is extremely diverse. People walk in from varied backgrounds with different cultures and the average person who comes into buy jewellery is 40+ who is looking to buy pieces for their daughters,” says Yash Agarwal of Birdhichand Ghanshyamdas. Knowing whether a person is going to buy is an instinct you develop over the years. You get to know by their body language, whether they have an occasion in the house or the kind of jewellery they are looking to buy.

Takeaways

At Birdhichand, a very simple principle is put to practice – whoever walks in be it a bride or any customer, they show, suggest but never force. The staff shows them the merchandise and suggests them how it can be worn or with what it can be worn but the end decision is left to the clients. With finicky customers if they don’t like something, they don’t and the brand respects their choices.

Tricks of the Trade

Have confidence in your merchandise, show everything you’ve got and the sales will eventually happen.

Unlike other countries, India is extremely diverse. People walk in from varied backgrounds with different cultures and the average person who comes into buy jewellery is 40+ who is looking to buy pieces for their daughters. At Birdhichand, we have a very simple principle – whoever walks in be it a bride or any customer, we show, suggest but never force – Yash Agarwal, Creative Director and Design Head, Birdhichand Ghanshyamdas, Jaipur

08 The Well Travelled – Show them Statement Pieces

“Jewellery buying in India is no more occasion based – occasion is only a part of it, if they like something they pick it up,” says Kartik Khanna of Delhi-based Khanna Jewellers. “Our clients are very well travelled and they are well-informed about what is in trend. If they see a good design, they are willing to spend 20-30 per cent over their budget,” he adds. Customers with a refined sense of taste and style tend to pick up statement pieces with diamonds or colour stones and even jadau.

Takeaways

There is a context to everything and every situation is different and the solution one has to offer must also be different. A person might walk into your store wanting a piece endorsed by an influencer and on the other hand, a client might want something entirely different that is not on social media – no two customers are the same.

Tricks of the Trade

Read the pulse of the client. These days everybody is short on time so everything has to be fast. Avoid a lazy approach.

Our clients are very well travelled and they are well-informed about what is in trend. If they see a good design, they are willing to spend 20-30 per cent over their budget. Customers with a refined sense of taste and style tend to pick up statement pieces with diamonds or colour stones and even jadau – Kartik Khanna, Creative Director, Khanna Jewellers, New Delhi

09 The Outsider – Lovers of Rare Stones

“My customers are people who visit Agra on a vacation – they are extremely aware and familiar with high quality colour stones,” says Milind Mathur of Kohinoor Jewellers Agra. “The styles and preferences of foreigners are very different from Indians. They are inclined towards buying minimalist designs with clean silhouettes and are experimental with their choice of semiprecious stones whereas Indians tend to like artistic, bold designs that are traditional in nature with precious stones like rubies, emeralds and diamonds.” Milind deals with a lot of quality-conscious customers and their specialty is customized, one-of-a-kind pieces which has a lot of art in it and can’t be replicated. “With people who are adventurous in their tastes, price is secondary as they want their jewellery to be unique with rare gemstones,” he adds.

Takeaways

Try to be a good listener and be extremely patient. Sometimes customers also try to negotiate with you and you should try and educate them about the value of your product and without being preachy you should make them understand that at the end of the day it is your business.

Tricks of the Trade

Every salesperson is different and he or she has her own way of dealing with a client. Be extremely transparent when dealing with a client. You have to gain their confidence and when they ask questions, ensure that your answers are as precise as possible.

The styles and preferences of foreigners are very different from Indians. They are inclined towards buying minimalist designs with clean silhouettes and are experimental with their choice of semiprecious stones whereas Indians tend to like artistic, bold designs that are traditional in nature with precious stones like rubies, emeralds and diamonds – Milind Mathur, Partner, Kohinoor Jewellers, Agra

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