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Teenagers are rarely shy about sharing their opinions — and gripes or raves about service in stores are no exception.
There is a fine line between a helpful and overbearing sales associate, said Chelsea Wolkove of Orlando, Fla. “I don’t need help picking out [shoes or bags]. I just need help doing everything after I have chosen what I want,” she said.
And if service is subpar, stores will not win over the teen audience, said Mikki Jernigan. “If I receive poor service, I won’t wait around when I can take my business elsewhere.”
Here, five high school seniors from the Orlando area weigh in on what is important to them when they are looking to make a purchase.
FN: On a scale of one to five — with five being “most important” — how important is good customer service when you’re shopping for shoes?
Chelsea Wolkove: Five. Customer service is always a key factor when trying to make a purchase, but especially with shoes. There is nothing worse than needing to try on a pair of shoes and not being able to find an employee to get your size. But there is such a thing as too much customer service when it seems like the worker is nagging you. At that point, I feel as though they are just trying to make money and not paying attention to my needs.
Meghan Matthews: Five. Shoes are something that a customer cannot obtain without an associate’s help, so I feel that customer service is highly valued in this department. Also, if I need more sizes or a different style, it’s always helpful if there’s an associate readily [available].
Kaitlyn Hoeflich: Four. If I’m willing to spend money in a store and I have questions, I want them to be answered. I don’t want to wait around to be helped when I can just go to another store.
FN: Aside from shoes, what types of products do you like sales associates to help you find?
MM: I don’t really like help. I know my style better than anyone else, but if I can’t decide on something, or want his or her opinion on how something looks, I’ll ask.
Mikki Jernigan: I like sales associates to help me find makeup that’s suitable for my skin and clothes that will fit my style and body nicely.
Jessica Drury: I generally don’t like sales associates helping me unless I can’t find something.
FN: How often do you shop for shoes, and what are your favorite brands?
CW: Almost every time I go to the mall, I come home with shoes. It’s my favorite item to shop for. I have 48 pairs of shoes, and I’m not stopping there. My favorite brands are Steve Madden, Madden Girl and Jessica Simpson.
MM: I’ve been shopping for shoes more often lately. My favorite brands are Vans, Sperry Top-Sider and Ugg.
FN: Have you ever been treated poorly by a sales associate, and do you think your age was a factor?
JD: Many times, especially in [high-end] stores. I feel like if I’m not dressed up [or look too young], sales associates won’t pay any attention to me.
MJ: Yes, and I feel my age played a large role because, in my opinion, they thought I didn’t matter as much as another customer because I’m not an adult.
MM: Yes, I’ve had my share of rude sales associates. I believe age does play a major role in the situation. Depending on what store it is, if they had to pick between me and someone older, they’d definitely choose to help the older person because they feel [older customers] are more worthy of their time and more likely to buy something.
FN: Would poor treatment affect your decision to purchase?
JD: This actually happened [recently]. I was looking at shoes in a [department store], and I waited for about 15 minutes and still nobody had asked me what size I needed, so I just left.
MJ: I also left the store. I’m not about to contribute to a store’s profit when I’m not being respected.
MM: I would still purchase the item if I truly wanted it, but I would just think twice about going back to that store again. It’s always important to be nice to your customers because in the long run it could affect business.
FN: What stores have the best customer service?
CW: Coach has very good customer service. They allow you to scope out what you want and just when you turn to ask for some help, they are right there.
JD: I like Forever 21, H&M and Victoria’s Secret.
KH: Most jeans-oriented stores, like Lucky, True Religion and Buckle, have very good customer service and always help with styles and sizes.
MM: Buckle and Journeys have awesome customer service. Whenever I walk in the store, I’m greeted and they ask right away if I need help with anything. When I’m trying on things, they ask if I need something in a different style or size.
MJ: Urban Outfitters, Buckle and Aldo by far have the best customer service.