Not too long ago, I had this chat with a friend who used to work in a well-known beauty brand. Then I remembered about all the other conversations I had with different people talking about this particular topic. It’s not necessarily a subject that we often discuss publicly but I am sure many people have their own opinions about this.
BeautyAssistant, or we know them with other titles such as Beauty Advisor, Sales Assistant/Advisor/Consultant, or abbreviated as BA or SA. Yep, you’d probably have an idea where I’m going with this.
So, shall we?
Before we start, let it be clear that I am saying this from my point of view and my own experience from visiting different local Jakarta counters from different brands from all these years. Plus all the other information I gathered from the conversations with friends. This is in no way trying to degrade or bad mouthing. I’m writing this with the hope that people can see it and hopefully brands can implement even better training and changes for the better.
It is obvious that nowadays, more and more people are shifting to online shopping. Why? It’s hassle-free and time-saving. And there’s no need to deal with Beauty Assistants that are well, less pleasing and making us uncomfortable instead of having a fun shopping experience.
I’m for one, don’t like when Beauty Assistant follows me and hovering around as if I’m about to steal something. Or they went on explaining every product I’ve just laid my hands on without being asked. I appreciate the initiative but geez, I need the space. Let me browse everything on my own and if I have questions, I’ll ask. It’s the beauty of browsing around cosmetic counters, I want to just get lost in it. Swatching this and that. Oh-and-ah-ing at different textures and colors. Not being lectured.
And come on, let’s be real here. Not every customer always have the intention of buying something every time we’re at the store. It’s called window shopping!
I don’t like pushy Beauty Assistants whatsoever. That’s such a deal-breaker for me. Making extreme claims on every product even as far as forcing us to like a product even though we don’t. That’s just overselling. Hey, hands up if a BA had chosen the wrong color of foundation for your skin, yet they insisted it’s the perfect match.
BA: “Oh, I think this pink-toned foundation (-which is also one shade up) suits your skin really nicely. It makes your skin even brighter and lighter.
Me: (rolling my eyes. Here comes another one who potrays “light skin is beautiful”). No, thank you. I want my foundation to match my skin, not changing the color of my skin entirely.
Sigh, I’ve been there too many times.
THE ISSUE #2.
Another issue, or rather, the more serious one is many Beauty Assistants obliviously judge and make assumptions based on how we look. Some treated the customers differently based on how we dressed – this usually means, the more expensive we look, the nicer they are. Snobby BAs, anyone? There were occasions where I noticed this behavior and it’s just unacceptable!
I know some beauty brands have a reputation for their snobby BAs#ehem. They can reply the customers in a condescending tone and a smug face. When it happens with higher-end brands, it feels a lot more ironic. Well, hello, these products are expensive. Of course, people are going to want to browse, do research and ask questions about the product before deciding on a purchase. If the BA is going to be all snobby about it, then the customers aren’t going to get the product knowledge or detailed explanation. Definitely not a great representation of the brand, right? The customers are probably going to get irritated and would rather spend their money elsewhere where there’s a better treatment.
The next one is the know-it-all kind. Some of them liked to make a quick skin diagnostic, picking out the “imperfections-101” (again, without being asked) and play that as a point for sales. Or I should say, manipulating our insecurities and use fear-mongering as tactics. Need examples?
BA: Your skin has a shine on it, here may I suggest … (offers products for oily skin or to mattify the skin).
Me: (Ehem, ever heard of glowy skin?)
BA: You have dark spots on your cheeks, I just have the thing for it.
BA: I notice you have wrinkles around your eyes, forehead and smile lines. Here.. (grabs more products).
Me: (So, I’m not supposed to blink my eyes, smile, laugh and move my face around?)
There are so many other unnecessary remarks. There’s no need to point these out as if there’s something wrong with the customer’s skin. We’re made up differently. Maybe it’s not even the customer’s concern to begin with. Why do you have to make a big deal out of it, as if you know what’s best?
To my eyes, this shows that many people still see beautiful from one, very narrow point of view. And the fact that strangers can just nitpick our flaws in a snap of a finger, proves the lack of empathy and basic social ethics. It’s not far from the bothersome “Hi! OMG, you look fatter!” (and the likes) commentary.
WHAT I WISH FOR.
Beauty comes in all shapes and forms. It is not just one or three types. There are many kinds and it’s called individuality. Brands and the Beauty Assistants need to accept this instead of doing the same strategy over and over again. More and more people are getting smarter and wiser. They don’t want to keep hearing the same crap. The old tricks aren’t going to play out.
There’s no doubt, handling a skincare brand is a much tougher business than makeup. This is also because many people still think skincare can fix their skin problems. Beauty Assistants needs to sharpen their general knowledge and update on new information/trends on top of product knowledge (which is already a must, yes?). This means not sticking to just one perspective (or beauty rule) and that’s the only it. They need to be more open-minded and more sensitive in their approach as well.
Instead of focusing on sales, focus more on the service. Give the customer space. If the customer doesn’t need the assistance, leave them be. If they do reach out, ask what their concern is. Ask their history. The skincare routine they’re in. Other products/treatments they’ve tried. Assess the situation and make a suitable suggestion. Be more personal in the approach, as if you’re speaking to a friend. As if you’re there to help, not to shove products into the cash register with their wallet. Take notes from Japanese BAs. They hold a reputation for excellent customer service. They will help and assist you as much as they can (and more) even though most of them don’t even speak English!
If the BA doesn’t have the product that might suit the customer’s needs, just honestly say so, instead of pushing other products for the sake of a sale. I appreciate the honesty more than anything and when I came across such, I’d be more inclined to come back because there’s a trust building.
When the Beauty Assistants are being genuine in their service, we as customers can feel it too.
I wonder what kind of training the brands give. But then, I’m aware that some brands are also frustrated because, despite every training, some Beauty Assistants still don’t put it into practice. I noticed that there are a few people who jumped around to different brands and yet, their attitude is still the same. It’s hard to shake off the old habits. It’s tough to mold a hardened clay. And you know what, what usually happens is, I’d lose interest in checking out the products if I see the same annoying BA. There you go, you’ve just lost a sale. Even if I want to buy the products, I’d give the commission to a more deserving BA.
I’m not asked to be served like a queen (or king), I simply ask to be treated respectfully. Not just some target that needs to be fulfilled. I am not an object where people can just place their beauty standards on. No one should ever. Not anymore. That time has passed.
WHAT I WISH FOR #2.
This goes the same with customers. HA! We’re not that innocent too. Treat your BA with respect as well. If a product doesn’t work for you, don’t blame the BA or the product or the brand. Simply move on and find another one. Don’t be naive thinking that when you buy a beauty product, it comes with a warranty that it will suit you. That’s just silly!
As a customer, we should try to educate ourselves as well. Information is there and most of it is free. Even if we think we know more than the BA, there’s no need to show that arrogance. We can definitely express our point of view nicely. In a way, educate one another. You’d be surprised by BAs that are appreciative when they hear new knowledge and even vice versa.
While I believe that a customer has a right to say something when they’ve been treated unfairly or unkindly, that doesn’t mean we can do whatever we want either. Do so in a respectable manner. There’s no need to raise the tone or humiliate the person. We can nicely ask for the supervisor or manager and let them know our concern about the service.
I had worked on the floor for a few years before, though not in the beauty industry. I know that some customers can be a pain in the neck when I personally think they could be nicer. Difficult or annoying customers can truly break the mood of someone during work hours, you know. And imagine they still have to greet and smile at the next customers. Even if they’re passionate at what they do, they can get weary too if customers don’t treat them with equal respect. Try to think if you’re in their shoes.
I think communication is key here and it works both ways. Treat other people the way you want to be treated back. For me, with respect and kindness. And don’t forget to smile and say thank you! Even if a BA isn’t having it, throw a smile still. When a BA approaches and you’re not interested in what they offered, turn it down politely. A simple “no, thank you” with a smile isn’t that hard, is it? Basic manners matter.
I can rant more about this but that’s for another time. If you’re one of those customers who think you’re above others just because you have money to spend, well just remember the wheel always spins 😉
Maybe I am asking too much? I’m saying it as if it’s easy but I know it’s not. But I’m hopeful.
Truth is, I love chatting with Beauty Assistants when they share the same frequency as mine. As a note, there are a lot of great BAs out there. I love it when they show the passion and enthusiasm. I feel like I can chat with them for hours! I love the interaction and the conversation. Even if I don’t end up buying anything, they still smile (instead of a sour face) and wish me well. And I bid them the same. I’d like to think that I made their day at work a little better.
And it’s definitely the kind of thing that we don’t always get when buying from the website. Everything feels monotonous, one-way and less emotional – not in a good way either. The digital world, as marvelous as it is, has made us slowly more detached from the real world. The informality and often-abused freedom of speech seem to root deeper in us.
The fact is, we’re all still learning here. Both Beauty Assistants and customers. The door is still open.
If you have any experience with Beauty Assistants, good and bad, feel free to write it down in the comment section. I’d also love it more if you can also make suggestions on what they can do to be better. Advice for difficult customers is welcomed too!
After all, this post isn’t about bashing 😀