Help me deal with my job requiring me to annoy people
February 17, 2010 11:18 AM   Subscribe

Part of my job involves me trying to sell things to people that they don't want to buy. Please help me get used to that.

I work as your bog standard cashier. I sit and take payments for items that people want to buy. One of my functions is to try to upsell products to every single customer that I serve. I have to ask everyone if they are "interested in any of our special offers" every time I serve them.

The problem lies in the fact that I get a lot of repeat customers. People come into the shop sometimes six days a week to buy their daily newspaper, so I have a lot of regulars. The products that I have to offer to people don't change very frequently, often being on sale for a few months consecutively. If someone bought [product] on Monday, they probably won't want to buy [exactly the same product] on Tuesday. Or Wednesday, or Friday, or even the following Monday. People (quite understandably) get annoyed at me asking them to buy something they don't want to buy day in, day out, especially when it's the same product for weeks at a time and even more especially when it's a product they don't want. I deal with the early morning crowd, so about 90% of my sales are with regulars.

It annoys me, too. I pride myself on being quick and efficient at my job. My regulars know that they won't have to queue for very long at all at my till, because I serve people quickly and can talk and bag their items simultaneously. I hate having to queue in shops needlessly, so I try to cut down on the amount of time a customer has to spend waiting to buy something. When I have to hassle people to buy [product that they very probably don't want to buy], that takes up time and more importantly leads to them being annoyed because they have to say "no" every day. Annoyed customers means that I'm not doing my job properly.

The products themselves are all priced with "half" price offers (the prices were artificially inflated at another store), yet you can buy exactly the same product at other stores in the high street for less.

However, I have to ask everyone, or I get disciplined. Even though the company only expects me to get seven percent of these sales, I get monitored on how many people I ask, both by mystery shoppers and whichever manager is on the floor. Also, if I don't meet my 7% sales target, I get questioned about why this is the case, along with with the threat of the aforementioned discipline if I'm caught not asking just one customer. I can't afford to lose this job, and other jobs are about as rare as hens teeth in this area, otherwise I'd leave and go some place where asking staff to annoy people isn't the done thing. I realise that these products generate a useful stream of income, but I also realise that it's a really bad thing to aggravate people who put money in the till.

So, to get to my actual question, how can I get used to annoying people who I have to serve every day? How can I get over the fact that I'm going to have to do a bad job to keep my job? I'm open to suggestions on this one. NLP, CBT worksheets, horoscopes, whatever.
posted by Solomon to Work & Money (41 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Are you sure your customers are that annoyed? As someone who visits retail establishments, I get the upsell thing every day and I don't even really notice it or care, because I know the person is just doing their job. It's more important to just say the words to everyone and let your bosses decide what constitutes "doing your job properly". Let them see that it slows down the queue and annoys regulars, and let them decide if they care about that or not. If the customers actually express annoyance at you, send them to your supervisor and let them deal with it, so they are aware that people are annoyed.
posted by amethysts at 11:25 AM on February 17, 2010

The grocery store near my house recently started up-selling these little baskets of crap that change about once a week - sometimes its candy, sometimes its shampoo, etc. etc. etc.

I know they're required to ask if I want it. I know they know I don't want it. I'm not really annoyed by their asking if I want it. Some people will "blame the messenger". Those people are assholes.

Just get the ritual over with quickly and maybe give your regular customers a little apologetic grin to let them know that you hate the ritual as much as they do.
posted by muddgirl at 11:26 AM on February 17, 2010

Presumably you can tell the "mystery shoppers" (I assume you mean management spies) from the regulars, because I assume the spies wouldn't be regular customers. Perhaps you can inject a little humor into it for the regulars - apologize and quietly explain that you're required to ask. Then it can be a joke - wink when you say it, or offer them silly things along with the actual offer when you know they won't be interested. Just an idea.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 11:28 AM on February 17, 2010 [5 favorites]

Don't think about it so much. It's part of your job, and the person you're talking to isn't going to be upset if you ask them. It's a normal part of check out procedures at stores now, and everyone expects the upsell. Some take it, some don't.

You're just offering them an opportunity. They make the choice whether they want to do it or not. You're not forcing anyone to do anything.

So yeah, just remove yourself from it a little bit.
posted by smitt at 11:31 AM on February 17, 2010 [4 favorites]

I get asked if I want to donate to charity every time I go to the grocery store or the pet store by people who know me and it doesn't really bother me. It's like going through the drive thru at McDonalds and they try to upsell you cheese--not a huge problem.
posted by Kimberly at 11:34 AM on February 17, 2010

Can you put the offer into your own words? Make it as short as possible, and change it day by day as you have the same repeat customers.

I find "Borders card?" far less annoying than "Have you heard about our fantastic discount program? All you need is a Borders card. Are you interested in getting one?"

If not, ask it quickly and smile knowingly as you do, so they know you are apologetic.
posted by sallybrown at 11:36 AM on February 17, 2010

I used to have to do this, at Burger King of all places, when I was a teenager. You know the guy who asks you if you want fries with that? I was that guy. I didn't want to be that guy but my manager made me, no matter how much I protested.

Anyway, I knew I had to do it, most customers knew I had to do it and yes, some of them got annoyed with me, as if it was somehow my idea to ask if they wanted fries. About one in five customers would give me a dirty look and say "If I wanted fries I would have ordered fries." Fuckers.

Anyway, I eventually managed to not go insane by making a game of it. I would be Super Polite when I asked. I would use "sir" or "ma'am." I would tell them that the fries were especially good that day, best fries I'd ever tasted, and act as if I would be doing them a disservice if I didn't suggest that they try some. If they said "no" I'd nod my head and say "ok, your loss", or something to that effect.

A lot of them would get the joke and realize why I was doing it. Some were still annoyed, sure, but it made life on the register much more fun. I wouldn't act sarcastic about it, my tone was sincere, so if a mystery shopper or manager came by there wouldn't be anything for them to complain about. I was doing my job and I was totally enthused about it. I was The Best Goddamn Suggestive Seller In The Universe.

But deep down I wanted those fuckers dead.
posted by bondcliff at 11:43 AM on February 17, 2010 [25 favorites]

It's part of your job. Jobs are often unpleasant. I do things at my job that I don't like, and I don't get to skip those things just because I don't like them. That's why it's called "work." Just take a deep breath, ask your customers with a smile if they want to buy product X, smile when they say "no", and go about your business. Sounds like you are a very conscientious employee, so just try to make the best of the situation.
posted by mosk at 11:45 AM on February 17, 2010

This may be a cultural difference between the UK and US because here we're so used to everybody trying to sell us something -- from the grocery store checker with a checkout deal to the bookstore employee pushing the "preferred reader" card to fast food employees to the high-end clothing store trying to get you to buy one more accessory -- that as long as you do it politely, only the aforementioned assholes would be annoyed at you for doing it. Many, if not most, people have been in jobs when they've had to do the exact same thing.

But, especially with regulars who you are asking this question of multiple times, you can make a pleasant joke about it. I'm not sure how that would fly with your management, but I'd probably be more prone to make an impulse buy from "the nice person trying to do their job who realizes its annoying" than I would be from somebody trying to do the hard sell.

I think it's great that you're so sensitive to the feelings of others, but try to remind yourself you're really just there to provide a service to both the customer and your employer, and this is part of it. And if that doesn't work, remind yourself that maybe your salespitch is actually going to help somebody get something they'll end up enjoying that they wouldn't have purchased without you -- you're selling JOY!

(yes. I realize this self-deception might be incredibly difficult)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:45 AM on February 17, 2010

I agree with the above. It's not a big deal to us customers. We know you're following procedure. Add a little "hipster irony" to your non-verbals and make no apologies for doing your job.
posted by cross_impact at 11:46 AM on February 17, 2010

i use to make it a joke with the regulars - while ringing them up, not losing any time to it...just be jovial and expecting a no with people you know aren't interested and you'll get through those moments.

now, it's a delicate balance, because some regulars will say yes once when they've said no a million times and some non-regulars would say yes if you had asked them seriously.
posted by nadawi at 11:46 AM on February 17, 2010

Since they are repeat customers, why not get to know them?

DePinto reports to work at 5:30 a.m. and meets the secret to their success—Dolores. This coffee queen has been working at 7-Eleven for 18 years, and she knows many of the customers by name.

You can even make it a joke with the regulars, and that will establish a rapport, making your job more enjoyable and maybe you'll even make some extra sales.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 11:46 AM on February 17, 2010

but I also realise that it's a really bad thing to aggravate people who put money in the till.

Stop sweating that. It's not your responsibility to police your employer's policies for quality. They're making it brutally clear with their arbitrary percentage numbers and secret shoppers that they don't want you making ANY judgment calls. Give them their monkey's paw.

It's nice that you want to be more that a robot dispensing change and parroting their offer but you need to accept that THAT is what your employer is asking for, at least in this case.

As far as feeling bad that you're irritating people, I think others above make the clear case that this isn't quite as bad as you think. Remember, that little tiny flash of irritation you see in their eyes? That's it for them - it's come and gone. You notice it more since you see it over and over again.

Remind yourself that if it really makes them nuts, your customers have the option every morning to decide to go somewhere else that day. You don't have that option.
posted by phearlez at 11:50 AM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

while ringing them up, not losing any time to it...

Oh yeah, good point!
posted by muddgirl at 11:53 AM on February 17, 2010

I for one find upsells incredibly annoying...but I am never annoyed with the cashier...I know they are just doing their job.

One the other hand...I don't find it annoying to be asked something like...."Anything to drink?" That is actually helpful...maybe I forgot to order a drink, and even if I hadn't its a reasonable assumption that I may want one.

Before upselling was the complete norm there was room for a very tiny but authentic human interaction between cashier/customer. Now it feels like the corporation has appropriated that tiny little space of human interaction in order to cram in a very unnatural awkward jingle/marketing opportunity to try a new Egg Nog Hamburger.

But like I said, never once did I find the cashier annoying for doing their job, I just found the cashier's job annoying.

I a customer...would it be totally out of line to say something like....'You know, you are an awesome cashier, and I know the upselling is part of your job...but it is SOOO annoying. Can I talk to your manager about it? I'd like him/her to stop requiring it from you." and then follow up with said manager.
posted by ian1977 at 11:55 AM on February 17, 2010

Perhaps you can console yourself with the fact that most jobs have much more annoying mandatory tasks.
posted by The World Famous at 12:02 PM on February 17, 2010

ian1977 - taking it to the manager won't matter. chances are they're just following orders too. also - whether you like it or not, most people won't stop shopping somewhere because of the upsell and they are still getting that 7% of people saying yes.

when i worked at a mall portrait studio we had similar margins on our frames. we didn't care if 90% of you said no - we were asking for the 10% that said yes.
posted by nadawi at 12:19 PM on February 17, 2010

Response by poster: I wish you guys were my regulars. You're obviously a lot more understanding than some of my regulars.

Are you sure your customers are that annoyed?

Yes. I have had at least one customer stop coming to the shop because of it. I met her when I went to get some lunch one day at the local supermarket, and stopped to say hi when I hadn't seen her for a couple of weeks. She mentioned in the course of the conversation that "being hassled" is the one of the reasons she doesn't come in any more.

It's not just a matter of "no" and then going away. Well, for the 10% of customers who aren't regular, anyway. To them, it's nothing. But to the people who come in every day and get annoyed every day, like Mr Tall-Guy-who-buys-The-Daily-Mail-and-The-Sun, it's obviously a lot more.

ian1977, speaking to a manager would be the best thing you can do in that instance. Feedback about what works and what doesn't is always valuable.
posted by Solomon at 12:21 PM on February 17, 2010

I would be bothered by having to as as well. Maybe it is an empathy thing. You are putting yourself in their shoes, you value regulars as actual human beings, regulars become part of your community. Detach yourself from this part a bit when it comes to the upsell. Make it the one part of your job that is not about the relationship. Connect with your customers with your awesome service, then mentally disconnect when it comes to the upsell, as I am sure they all understand that part is not coming from you, but the job requirement, and I am sure the customer doesn't put the blame on you, so you shouldn't either.
posted by Vaike at 12:23 PM on February 17, 2010

Be open to the regular customers who will attempt to break you of "the script". It's actually what makes a shopping experience less annoying for me.

Joke/stray a bit from the script with your regulars (while still mentioning Product X); and stick with the script with non-regulars.

Chances are whatever manager is on duty will also know the regulars, and if the regulars are respond well, or at least aren't terribly annoyed by you, you'll be fine. Unless you're manager's a total douche, in which case, find another job.
posted by MuChao at 12:26 PM on February 17, 2010

Just acknowledge with the regulars that you're upselling. Be jokey about it. "Hey, we have a special on gum. I love gum. Won't you try some? It'll be more expensive tomorrow."

In a way this is an opportunity to learn about sales. It's useful.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:29 PM on February 17, 2010

I had to do this at Kohls when I worked there in highschool. Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that this is a numbers game for the business folks enforcing this and if it had a negative effect on things in the net they wouldn't do it so it must be working.

The best thing you can do is not just say it jokingly to the regulars so they know not to shoot the messenger, but if someone complains say:

"I completely understand your frustration with this and I don't like it any more than you do but it is a policy I get measured on. If you want, you could speak to the manager and let him know your thoughts about it and that would be really helpful for both of us since he only really listens to customers."

Aside from that, try to shorten it as much as possible (unless they require you to say something specific). Beyond that, look for another job. It REALLY ticks me off when companies take what should be a rather menial non-sales related job and try to turn it into a sales job and then measure you based on that--often times without the performance-based comp that is often tied to a sales job.
posted by Elminster24 at 12:30 PM on February 17, 2010

You could also take Enid's approach:

"Why, sir. Do you not know that for a mere twenty-five cents more you can get a large beverage? You know, I'm only telling you this because we're such good friends. Medium is really for suckers who don't know the meaning of value."
posted by ian1977 at 12:35 PM on February 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

Smile and shrug while you say it to the regulars. Genuinely offer to the non regulars. Make it such a part of your speech pattern at work that you stop noticing it. I've been in your shoes plenty of time. In the 90s when I worked in a music store, it was .99 Maxell blank tapes. In the 00s at a video store, it was preselling new releases.

It's annoying and you'll lose a small percentage of customers because of it. Your employer doesn't care though because the profit margin on your upsells is high enough to make up for it.

Continue to take pride in the good, fast service you give your customers while at the same time meeting your employer's expectations to upsell. You'll keep more customers than you loose just by being friendly and efficient at your job.
posted by dchrssyr at 12:39 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

Your customers won't feel hassled if you don't make them feel that you are asking them a question that requires a response. Can you re-phrase to something like, "[generic nice statement e.g. this weather is great], oh and you know we've got a deal on XYZ today, SO [relevant question e.g. cash or credit]." They can respond to the relevant question ("credit") and be done.
posted by prefpara at 12:43 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

> A lot of them would get the joke and realize why I was doing it.
> Just acknowledge with the regulars that you're upselling. Be jokey about it.
> You could also take Enid's approach:
> i use to make it a joke with the regulars
> Add a little "hipster irony" to your non-verbals

Yeah. Just do a quick eyebrow double-lift, or use a beeg beeg grin.

Your customers will see you as downtrodden and someone who sympathizes with them, and probably like you even more than if the upsell question had never come up.
posted by darth_tedious at 1:02 PM on February 17, 2010

Yes. I have had at least one customer stop coming to the shop because of it. I met her when I went to get some lunch one day at the local supermarket, and stopped to say hi when I hadn't seen her for a couple of weeks. She mentioned in the course of the conversation that "being hassled" is the one of the reasons she doesn't come in any more.

Then you have data to take to your manager. Tell him or her that you're fine with the upselling, but that you're finding it's jeopardizing your relationship with some regulars, and that you know for a fact it's lost you at least one.

Ask if you can have a little more autonomy in determining whom to upsell. See if your upsell target could be determined in some other way than percentage of people asked (e.g. $$ sold?).

Otherwise--upsell the strangers (as someone else said, your regulars aren't likely to be mystery shoppers), and when the manager's there, give the spiel to your regulars with a sympathetic roll of the eyes.

I sympathize. I gave up on a sales job, once, because I couldn't live with the silly demands.
posted by torticat at 1:08 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

"Are you interested in X" or "Did you know about X" puts the onus of answer on the recipient.

* The cashier just asked me a question.
* I don't want to engage in conversation.
* But it would be rude of me not to respond.
* I am being backed into an etiquette corner, so to speak.
* This makes me uncomfortable.

Looked at purely from a right-now, dollars-and-cents lens, this conversational burden is actually an effective selling strategy, in some (but certainly not all) cases. "Umm, no, I didn't know about your special..." "Well, let me tell you..." And now the seller has engaged attention and conversation.

Of course, the flip side is that it's very often negative attention, as you can tell.

A better sell for repeat customers is something that doesn't require a response, and engages attention to something else, or a different aspect of the special offer.

You want to say, in effect, "If you want to engage, you will be rewarded for doing so."

"We have a special offer today on X. Some people really like X. It's always nice to have a little extra X in case of Y. If you come back tomorrow, we'll have a new special. We're always trying to give customers a little something extra. Here you go, have a good day!"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:11 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I for one find upsells incredibly annoying...but I am never annoyed with the cashier...I know they are just doing their job.

I feel this way too.
posted by grouse at 1:20 PM on February 17, 2010

I dislike the upsell. As a customer, I usually recognize that cashiers are required to offer it. I'll bet your regulars appreciate you. Anytime anyone complains, offer them a complaint or suggestion form and suggest they inform the higherups. Just a polite "I'm required to offer this additional product, but I'm sure the company would be very happy to hear from a valued customer like you."

On a long term basis, the extent to which vendors push for greater profit at any expense of common courtesy or decency has made me totally distrustful of all vendors and advertizing. My attitude is "Screw 'em" because that's their attitude to me. I exempt cashiers and others who have no ability to effect change. How rotten of them to put you on this crappy position. There's a new teevee show in the US about executives who try line jobs in their companies. It's pretty interesting.
posted by theora55 at 1:36 PM on February 17, 2010

Presumably you can tell the "mystery shoppers" (I assume you mean management spies) from the regulars, because I assume the spies wouldn't be regular customers.

No, mystery shoppers can be anyone. Including, you know, people like me. Just sayin'.

I think most people understand where you are coming from, because we've either been subjected to this ourselves or had to do it to someone else.

As for regular customers, like the one you lost, you could just say, "I remember that you said yeterday you weren't interested in (blah blah blah upsell), right? Okay, then." That lets the regular customers know you recognize them, and a mystery shopper would give you credit for introducing the idea of the upsell too.
posted by misha at 1:37 PM on February 17, 2010

Can you do something like print out your status report with that statistic highlighted, then give a copy to the regulars who complain, using the shrug and smile? Maybe try to get them to help you raise your numbers? If they are really friendly regulars, maybe this can become a joke between you:
"boss looking over here? Oh, (louder) THANK you for suggesting but Noooooo, not this time. Maybe next time (wink, wink)"

Or not. It was just a thought.

posted by CathyG at 1:44 PM on February 17, 2010

You might also consider just not doing it. You won't get arrested. You most likely won't even get fired, especially if you are a good worker in other areas. If a regular comes in just serve them efficiently and skip the upsell. If your boss mentions that you didn't upsell just say...oh gee willikers slipped my mind, sorry boss!

Will it affect your review/standing? Possibly. That's for you to weigh really. What is the exchange rate at the Bank of Solomon between the various factors at play? Dignity vs Favor with Mgmt, Humanity vs Career Advancement, Autonomy vs Job Security. There are no objectively right answers to those questions.
posted by ian1977 at 1:49 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

What you need to do is take the initiative to prove to your boss that your way of serving customers is more profitable. You'll have to brainstorm ways to do this and then make a decision for what you think will work best and then pitch your boss on it and see what happens. It sounds like you work for a chain so this'll be real hard to pull off but it might be worth a shot.

For instance, without knowing enough about your job, these are the things that came to mind for me while reading your question:

1. assuming there are multiple cashiers at a time, have one line (yours) never upsell anything for one week (a month is actually better). Keep the items on the counter or where they always are but never mention them. Track sales and see over the month if:

- you make more than 7% more sales than your competing cashiers or

- there is a very noticeable difference between which lines the customers are choosing (the regulars will notice you're not upselling)--for instance, were I a customer at your store, I would line up behind two or three people rather than 1 person were I able to avoid upselling or

- etc.

2. If/when you run into customers on the street, ask them what they think of the store or your service and if any of them comment on the upselling thing the way that one customer did, implore them to take it to the management, preferably in writing. There's an old saying: "Only time you worry about a worker is when they stop bitching. A cashier complaining about working isn't news to a manager; a customer avoiding the store because of a policy is.

3. If you truly kickass at your job--and it sounds like you do--then the next time you're up for review or whatever, you need to make sure your bosses are aware of it. And when they can't disagree you need to tell them that the only thing you hate about your job is the upselling and that it annoys you to no end and if there's a reason you'll leave, that's it. Would they rather have a punctual worker who the customers like and whose count is never off or a worker the customers don't like, who manages to sell 7% more? (Sadly, a lot of managers will choose the wrong answer here.)

When I was young, I worked in a video store and I was very good at it. I ran my own shop in a large chain and managed to have the highest return rate of customers each month compared to the country-wide chain. My average was 63% compared to a chain-wide average of 48%. When confronted how I consistently did this, I explained all the policies I broke which I thought detracted from the shopping experience. "Why would you do that?" they asked. "Because otherwise I feel like I'm working at the McDonald's of video stores." "But," said corporate, "we want to be the McDonald's of video stores. I wonder how much MORE money you could make by following the policies..." I quit on the spot and have never regretted it. Upthread someone mentioned you might want to do this. I don't disagree. If you're a great cashier, look for a quality shop in an industry you like--one that prides itself on customer service. You'll be much happier.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 2:00 PM on February 17, 2010 [3 favorites]

Your regulars, at least, know you are required, and tolerate it as much as you do. At least turn it into a management-appropriate joke - you haven't changed your mind yet on the special offer? - or wiggle an eyebrow in their direction. Doesn't slow things down, lightens up the interaction, everyone gets out easy.
posted by whatzit at 2:21 PM on February 17, 2010

What if, with your regulars, instead of upselling the product you know they won't want, you suggest something that, knowing a bit about them, you think they might want? It's so much easier and more natural to say, "We just got in some Y that I thought you might be interested in since you always buy X." You'll feel like you really are doing them a bit of a service. If you put a second or two of thought into your upsell items, your customers will (mostly) realize you're considering their preferences, which will build a relationship with them, and you'll feel more invested in your job--you're helping your customers, whom you like.

I mean, sure, you can play along with the requirements, try to soften the irritation all around, but you're still going to go home feeling a bit like you need an ethical shower.

I guess the management might frown on changing upsells to match customers, but if you explain, "Well, you know, I see this customer every day and have a good idea of her preferences; I figured since she never takes me up on the Z, I'd try the X instead, since that's something she'd be more likely to want," that should show you're taking the upselling seriously. If they don't see how much better this approach is, they really are thick-o's and you should start looking around for some intelligent people to work for. Yeah, I know; easier said than done. Since you're kind of stuck, though, what could it hurt? I'd give it a shot.
posted by miss patrish at 2:25 PM on February 17, 2010

mosk: It's part of your job. Jobs are often unpleasant. I do things at my job that I don't like, and I don' get to skip those things just because I don't like them. That's why it's called "work."

I really hate this. You don't need to take this pinched and defeated and hopeless attitude towards work. Of course you may decide that there are good and specific reasons for making the trade-off at this particular point in your life, rather than resigning, but please make sure you do it consciously — don't just slide into the idea that that's how work has to be, because it doesn't. This isn't just an objection to mosk's outlook but also a practical answer to your question: if you can satisfy yourself that there is a good reason right now for sticking with the job (to do with your circumstances, the economy, your future goals, whatever) then I think this will make the downsides of it easier to bear. And if you can't find a good reason, then you should leave.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 3:09 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

I hate it when shop assistants do this. Hate it hate it hate it. But the person I'm hating on is whatever dimwit senior manager decided relentless, irrelevant upselling was a good idea. I'm absolutely not hating on the underpaid shop assistants who are just trying to keep their jobs. Your customers might enjoy being served by you, but they also know that you're just a humble cog who has no real say in how the store is run.

I agree that you should inject a bit of irony into your interaction with your regulars. Also, whenever the upselling annoys a customer so much that they mention it to you, say this: "I know, I'm sorry - it's in the store rules, I have to say it. But I know my managers are always interested in feedback from our loyal customers..." Then hand them a feedback card or point them to whatever means your store uses for handling complaints.

If you do this with the right customers and with the right tone of voice, your managers will get two messages: 1) You are sincerely following the rules about upselling. 2) The customers hate it. If you work in a big chain store, this probably won't change the policy, but it might help you feel better about having to implement it.
posted by embrangled at 4:56 PM on February 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I agree with the people who say to personalize it. Make it clear you know they've heard the offer before (or that you finally have a new offer for them). Don't mock it enough to get yourself in trouble, but make it an extra sign of recognition for your regulars that you remember whether they were in yesterday and have already heard this particular special offer or not. Some of them will still be annoyed, but fewer, and some will actually like you more.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:18 PM on February 17, 2010

I used to work as a Head Cashier for a nationwide bookstore chain and I found that making the upsell as part of my greeting was the most painless way of satisfying my corporate masters with a mininum of annoyance to my customers (including those waiting in line).

"Hello, did you find everything you were looking for today?" (brief pause) "Would you like to save an additional 10% with a Schmarnes & Flowbell membership card?" (you should already be scanning/ringing the purchase up as you say this second sentence).

You've greeted the customer, asked if they needed anything else, and mentioned a selling point of the upsell item, all in under 3 seconds. If they're interested, they'll let you know. All that's left is for you to say "Thank you" and "Have a nice day/evening!" at the end of the transaction.
posted by KingEdRa at 6:36 PM on February 17, 2010

Your customers don't hate you, they hate the upsell. We don't take it personally.

You're having trouble with your obnoxious soundbite because you do take it personally. You are the extremely rare employee who, in a position to be a complete automaton, is instead completely genuine. You're the employee who says "have a good day" at the end of every transaction, hundreds of times a day, and you mean it every time.

You're the type of employee that managers and owners should be doing backflips over, because most people who do your work are obnoxious, slow, and act as though they're dead inside. (and in case I'm offending anyone, I've been a cashier for a giant box store, and I totally understand why people adopt this attitude -- it's a survival technique.)

Your customers, especially your regulars, must LOVE you. They know the "upsell" is part of your soul-sucking job and they absolutely don't mind. To those that do, lean in and tell them they should complain to management because it would help the both of you out.

Seriously, don't sweat it. You sound like a stellar employee who won't be doing this forever.
posted by missmary6 at 7:22 PM on February 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

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