From Snooty to Friendly Luxury Service


Snooty Attitude Tones Down at Luxe Boutiques 2/27/09


According to The New York Times, a quick glance at a man’s watch and shoes has been a common and effective tool for sizing up potential customers at designer boutiques. Working heavily on commission, a sales clerk gains invaluable insight into which shoppers to chase and which to ignore.

Such practices have also tagged clerks at high-end stores with a reputation for snootiness and all-out rudeness. But the Times notes that virtually overnight, the brutal recession has changed those attitudes to a “level of customer service rivaling that of Disney.”

MaxMara recently held employee seminars on enhancing the shopping experience “of anyone who walks through the front door,” and the article claims other stores “are making more effort to greet and engage.”

Putting the findings to a test, the Times reporter, Eric Wilson, went undercover. Donning an outfit described “if not poorly, then as plainly as possible in a sweatshirt, jeans and dog-walking shoes,” Mr. Wilson visited a string of boutiques along Madison Ave. in New York City.

For the most part, luxury boutiques passed the test with flying colors.

Discussion questions:  Do you think the snooty reputation at high-end stores has toned down given the recession or has it always been widely overblown? If there is a longstanding snooty attitude in high-end selling, is it in any way justified?

My post: 

Certainly many boutiques provide lousy service.  In the case of high-end stores, this is typically described as snooty and rude.  In lower-end stores it might be described as uncaring or non-existent.  Service in the past and present has more to do with the vision of the retailer and the people they hire to manager their stores and service their customers, than the current economics.

In today’s environment, retailers of all kinds are pushing like never before to go out of their way to be helpful, courteous, and welcoming.  This is particularly true in stores where the brand mission is service oriented to start with.   It is likely to be found where the brand typically stands for service and quality – a fairly common aspect of luxury brands.  The reporter’s example of lousy service in Gucci, however, proves that the people you hire to manage & staff your stores determine the service that will be offered.

Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! TM strategist

Go to the full discussion at


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