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Suzi Shopper: Let’s YouTube It! Put the Power of the Internet in Your Employees Hands

Kayaker on the river

Now that summer is finally here, it’s time to put away the skis and snowmobiles and pull out all the summer toys. Personally, waterskiing and wake boarding terrify me (I am not sure why—dirt bikes and four wheelers don’t scare me at all), so I opted for a different type of summer recreation: kayaking.

Kayaking for me is a little bit of everything: a workout if I want it to be, a relaxing way to blow off steam, and a great way to get a tan. I often find myself grabbing my boat and carrying it down to the lake on my lunch breaks and in the evenings. It really helps me clear my head and get a fresh perspective on work and life. However, just like any other watercraft sport, you must be prepared for the possibility of capsizing. With kayaking, it’s not the actual event of capsizing that I’m worried about; it’s the ability to get back into the boat while in water that is above your head that has me concerned. Also, it’s important to take into consideration that you may be physically exhausted when you capsize and you may be in the water for an extended period of time until you have enough energy to perform a self-rescue or until your buddy has time to get to you to help.

With that being said, a life preserver is a must! DO NOT be one of those people who drown because they were too cool to wear a life jacket. Nobody is too cool to have a fun, safe summer. (That ends my public service announcement).

Anyway, to ensure that I am not a hypocrite, I went shopping for a life jacket. I went to my local sporting goods stores, and in the land of summer recreation, I would assume that the employees would be knowledgeable about them. I wanted to make sure I was buying the proper size and fit, so I asked the sales representative if she could double check the fit of the jacket that I thought was the proper size. She responded by saying, “I don’t really know how they are supposed to fit.” I was okay with that, but I still was looking for some other response that would help me get closer to my ultimate goal. Perhaps she could have offered to go find another sale associate or look the information up. However, it became clear that she was not going to be of much help, so my brother, who was shopping with me, said, “Let’s YouTube it!” and he promptly pulled out his cellphone and found a video demonstrating how to check the fit of a life jacket.

Fortunately for the merchant, the ability to find this information online ended up in a sale. However, I’m not likely to go back to this particular sporting goods store, nor give them a good review. The salesperson could have stated that she didn’t know and offered to find out – from another associate, the store manager, or by searching YouTube herself. Actually, the store owner or management should have trained the staff to know their products, but at the very least, they should have trained them to offer alternatives like YouTube.

What is your policy on allowing smartphones on the sales floor? How do you incent floor personnel to be helpful?

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