Charlotte, a waitress in a coffee shop I frequent, always greets me, and every other male customer with an ebullient "Hi, Handsome. Harry, a waiter, treats all the women to a smiling "Hi, Gorgeous." I've never known anyone to be bothered by Charlotte or Harry's sweet talk. It's in character for them and the informal atmosphere of the place. Most of us are regulars and sweet talk them right back. But let a stranger try to "Hi, Handsome" or "Hi, Gorgeous" us-there's sure to be resentment.
Women especially, after years of verbalized male ego trips, find expressions like "honey," "luv" and "dear" from men they don't know offensive.
Hopefully, most furniture delivery people are sensitive enough- -or at least sensible enough-to recognize that sweet talk is out of place in delivery situations. But it pays to remind your men that delivery is the close of your sale. Proper delivery is a careful, courteous one-nothing personal said. Here are some other mum's-the-word rules crews should be reminded about from time to time:
- Never voice opinions of furniture being delivered, even if asked. Your men should politely sidestep the issue with answers like "It's a fine piece" or It's exactly what you ordered."
- Never put negative ideas into customers' heads. Believe it or not, crews have been known to say things like "Oh, we're always late" or "If you don't like the table, we'll take it right back."
- Never make delivery, pick up, replacement, credit, etc. promises. These are matters for your customer relations people and no one else.
The only "sweet talk" if it can be called that-that's not just okay but that's advisable during a delivery should convey genuine interest in pleasing the customer. For instance: "Tell us where you'd like the armoire. We'll be glad to position it for you." Or, before leaving: We know you'll enjoy your new sofa. Thanks for shopping at our store."
While some people like being sweet-talked, even knowing it's empty talk, most people resent it. When you're delivering the goods, little can sour a sale as surely as "harmless" sweet talk- -because, from strangers, sweet talk isn't.