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Digging into my retail box o' skills.... [Dec. 11th, 2008|08:48 am]
Certainly a lot of what I do on a daily basis involves many of the skills I honed in 20+ years of retail and foodservice. "Not killing someone" and "how to repeat something over and over again in slightly different ways until finally the other person gives up and learns what you're trying to explain" being the primary ones.

But no so often in my "new" career does this one come up, although it's fairly frequent in retail. And that's trying to answer a question without making the person asking it sound like an idiot.

I don't mean sort of dumb questions and I'm not talking about your internal need to keep from expressing how you really feel -- that's daily, sometimes hourly and a well-used skill for any good retail/foodservice worker.

I mean a question so profoundly stupid that you find yourself pausing because even to answer it simply, with no emphasis, is going to make the person asking the question sound like an idiot.

On Tuesday I got an e-mail from a distributor asking me why he hasn't received the January pricing sheet for a certain supplier. I explained to him that he won't get the sheet until December 15th and then carefully explained the system that generates our price sheets and that they come out on the 15th of the month preceding when the prices take effect. Since I explained this to him two months ago and maybe he thought I was only talking about October prices? I very carefully made sure that the e-mail led with the line "The January price sheet will be sent to you on December 15th" and it was separate from any further explanation, for I have learned that you always lead with the simple answer and save the explanation for another paragraph of its own.

I mean, I've taught workshops on effective e-mail communication.


Today I get an e-mail from him "I still haven't received the price sheet for January".

After much thought and some burnt out brain cells, I went with "That's because it's not December 15th yet"

It was the best I could do....

[User Picture]From: sestree
2008-12-11 02:13 pm (UTC)
I have a general contractor that we do regular business with that has fits because it's the 3rd week of the month and she doesn't have certified payroll through the 30th of the same month.


Monthly I get to remind the charming individual that until the people actually work, (which means the days have to actually happen not be in the future) I can't do the reports.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
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[User Picture]From: bittibuddha
2008-12-11 03:37 pm (UTC)
the statement I coined "You're SO PRETTY!" came about exactly for reasons such as this, because "You're a dumbass!" seemed far less friendly.

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[User Picture]From: skivee
2008-12-11 06:56 pm (UTC)

So, I get it now.

All timed times you told me that I was so pretty , you were really saying that it wasn't Dec.15th yet, right?
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[User Picture]From: 3fingeredsalute
2008-12-11 09:43 pm (UTC)

Re: So, I get it now.

In your case, it might just be that you're so pretty!
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From: hyadesophelia
2008-12-11 05:34 pm (UTC)
I have a customer here who for the life of her cannot keep track of her monthly expenditures. This requires me to produce a report to her (the only report out of thousands of customers) listing every invoice and the amount and tax, separate of course for her. This must be accompanyed by the PDF file of each invoice. Problem is it takes approximately 8-10 working days in the following month for all of these to be available to be converted in our system.

Every month I receive the request on the 3rd or 4th day of the month. "Can you please forward my report ASAP"

I have every month for over a year politely said that due to getting the backups etc, it won't be till after the 12th or so. Really wish I had something more creative to tell her, because she is one of those really annoying people who thinks she is the "ONLY" customer we have.

*Getting off my soapbox now*

Boy that felt good!
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[User Picture]From: lowlandscot
2008-12-11 11:08 pm (UTC)
I would be so tempted to create an Excel table just for this customer, with carefully labelled columns.

Calendar Month Date Price List Available
January 2009 December 15 2008
February 2009 January 15 2009
March 2009 February 15 2009

Have it go on for pages. Every time you get an email, send the spreadsheet. Heck, go all the way, embed it in a PowerPoint.

Note: I no longer work in an office enviroment, for obvious reasons.
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