By Jack McDaniel
Life is filled with humbling moments. My youngest daughter, just entering her junior year of high school, has landed her first job. After getting past the “Thanks, now I feel older than dirt” phase, I expressed every parent’s ebullience at the prospect that I will no longer be responsible for keeping at least one car’s gas tank filled. Naturally I expressed this enthusiasm in such a way that my daughter thought I was simply happy for her. Alas, at my age, no feelings are simple. She’s working at a local retail clothing store, part of a nationwide chain catering, it appears to me, to the tastes of girls entering their junior year of high school. As a cutting-edge fashionista, my daughter has the right look. However, I knew she needed advice on how to serve her customers-to-be. I planned my speech to strike all the right chimes: positive defining moments, steps to dazzle the customer, moving among the three dimensions of service. Each chord would build a symphonic harmony leading to a climactic crescendo of customer service wisdom. Then I took a look at my daughter’s training materials. Greet people warmly; be visible and provide information; uncover needs; then satisfy them by matching desired features and benefits to specific merchandise items. Good, solid customer service and sales skills, with the customer first in the equation. So instead of giving her a “Dad speech,” I gave her a big hug. I also recalled my first experience working in retail. I was a kid with little knowledge, sketchy training, and way too much attitude. I could have used a program like this. If the store’s sales team reinforces and encourages these skills, my daughter will be more successful than I ever was at the retail game. In the meantime, a little humility is a small price to pay for no longer filling up the gas tank.