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Commentary: The Business

Terry Chandler: Customer Care, Not Customer Service

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It’s the single most important factor in the success of a jewelry store


I’m a collector. I collect books, crystal, art and antiques. One of my most prized collections, however, is a notebook in which I collect stories about customer care experiences, both positive and negative. Why? After working 35 years in all facets of the jewelry industry, I have come to passionately believe the most important factor in a jewelry store’s success is customer care. (Not customer service. You service a car … you care for a customer.)

Obviously, marketing, merchandising and store design are key elements of a successful jewelry operation, but one negative customer experience trumps all those. You may have the best marketing and inventory and lose the sale for want of highly motivated and trained sales associates.

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Here’s one of my stories: A jeweler friend attended an engagement party for a close friend’s daughter. He was surprised to discover that the engagement ring had not been purchased from his store. Thinking this was odd, he gently probed the fiancée’s father as to why they had not let him help with the ring and was taken aback when told that, in fact, they had come to his store for help, only to be dismissed and treated rudely by the sales associate. Not wanting to cause trouble or impose on the friendship, they left and went somewhere else.


“In the
current environment, every opportunity to make the sale is crucial.””


The sales associates behind your counter are the voice of your store. You win or lose based on their interaction with the consumer. Nothing else you do is as important as hiring, training and nurturing quality professional associates. You have a responsibility to invest and cultivate this indispensable asset.

Jewelers must communicate and stress the culture and values of themselves and their store. Associates need to comprehend that they are speaking for you and that success or failure rides on their every interaction with your customers. There can be no “bad days” or down time. It is never acceptable to dismiss or argue with the customer. (A mentor once told me that when you argue with a customer and win, you lose!)

In the current environment — when new customers can be hard to find and retaining customers is difficult — every opportunity to make the sale is crucial. No ifs. No ands. No buts.

Let me share another of the stories in my collection. My wife and I were in Tucson at the AGTA Gem show two years ago. We wanted to have a quiet evening away from the crowd and found our way to our favorite steakhouse. The server was attentive and helpful and made our date night perfect. I expressed how impressed we were with him. He asked for my business card, which I was happy to share. A year later about two weeks before the AGTA Show, he called my office to tell my associate that if I needed anything while in Tucson this year he was leaving his number. Nice. Of course we returned to the restaurant. We were disappointed to find he was not working that evening. About 10 minutes into dinner, the young man walked up to our table. He told us he was sorry he was not working that evening and just stopped by to thank us for coming in.

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Which of these stories would you rather have in your collection?

Terry Chandler is president and CEO of Diamond Council of America and has been involved in every aspect of the retail jewelry industry. Visit diamondcouncil.org or email [email protected].

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