After publishing my recent story about the poorly-informed YSL rep, I found myself pondering the question of what I'd consider to be a highly skilled sales assistant. Naturally, they'd have to possess excellent communication skills. And sound product knowledge. And an ability to relate to individuals from very different walks of life. But what about discretion...?
Not too long ago, Madame Persolaise and I popped into a nearby branch of an electronics store. I'd been there a week earlier - on my own - and I'd made a purchase. It doesn't really matter what I bought; let's say it was an MP3 player.
As Madame P and I were strolling through the shop, we were approached by the SA who'd served me the week before. "Hi, I sold you your MP3 player last week," she said, smiling. "How are you getting on with it?" At which point we entered into a brief, pleasant conversation about the product and whether it was working well. It was a simple, amicable exchange. But afterwards, I realised that it could've gone horribly wrong.
The SA had no idea who Madame Persolaise was. What if the MP3 player had been a gift for her? What if it had been a gift for someone else? What if Madame Persolaise was little more than an acquaintance with whom I didn't particularly wish to share the information that I'd bought an MP3 player the previous week?
I appreciate that the Sales Assistant was probably just trying to be friendly, but she was taking a risk by throwing discretion to the wind. Nowadays, when social barriers are unfashionable and you're expected to slip into first-name terms with people you barely know, no-one stops to consider the value of keeping schtum every now and then. But sometimes, silence really is the most sensible policy.