A client made a request that I didn’t think I could fulfill. I didn’t even want to try, to be honest. She’s a longstanding client of mine, I love her to pieces, and saying no would be hard. The good thing is she understood what a big ask it was. She knows me that well.
“Brenda, would you consider doing a shopping appointment with me by phone using Skype or Dropbox where I could send you photos of me in clothes and ask you questions? I want to understand how you look at something and determine why it’s right for me. I want to see what you’re seeing. I think this would help me a lot.”
She hates to shop. She waits until holes are in her shoes before she sends me that email with high alert messaging: “I literally have nothing to wear. You’d be appalled. Can we make an appointment?”
By the time she’s desperate, the task is even bigger. We’re not just filling in here and there, maintaining a healthy wardrobe; we’re spending hours getting jeans, T-shirts, tanks, sweaters, coats, shoes, jewelry. Even with Erin assisting me as I guide, counsel, console, encourage, and intervene with sales people to make the experience as intimate and safe as possible, it’s a push.
She’s incredibly patient, present and talented in so many areas of life–exceptionally so. But in shopping, she’d rather check out. It’s a wiring thing. It hasn’t gotten any easier for her but her curiosity about image, clothes and how I put things together to make it all work for her has never been higher.
So when she asked to to consult over the phone from my desk rather than in person, I said I’d give it a try. I told her my capacity for this type of consulting would be one hour to start with. She was fine with that.
I love being surprised and boy, was I surprised!
My client created a Dropbox file and numbered the categories we’d be reviewing: T-shirts, jackets, shoes, jewelry, etc. Some of the documents were PDFs of images in that category and some of the files were videos.
Having things organized by category in a file was so helpful. (She was taking care of me the best way she could!). My favorite part was reviewing her in the little videos she had of her in dressing rooms or in a department of a store. I got to see the 360 degree view of her wearing the item.
“How did you do that?” I asked.
“I got the salesperson to hold my phone and record while I imagined you seeing the piece,” she said.
In other movies, she’d propped the phone on a chair in the dressing room and pressed record, stepped back so I could see the whole head-to-toe outfit, turned around so I got the view from all directions, and then came back to her phone and stopped the recording.
By the time we ended (in just under 60 minutes) I said, “Carrie! I liked this! I’m amazed but this really worked for me. How was it for you?”
She loved it. She’d put these items on hold so she hadn’t made any purchase mistakes and now she was eager to secure the items that got my thumbs up.
Today I got an email from her.
“Thanks for being so game to try something that you surmised wasn’t going to work! I really appreciate it.
It was so helpful and educational.
Getting to talk after shopping was kind of a revelation. Away from the pressurized environment of a store, the observations you made and educational points really stuck—like the long necklace being more right for winter. It was also helpful to be able to make decisions after letting some time pass. The videoing was instructive, allowing me to see how I actually look in these clothes.
I feel like I’ve always tried to do everything at once, so I can stay away from shopping altogether as long as possible. But then of course, this makes shopping more onerous. I’m going to try and have it be more organic and ongoing. If you’re open to working this way, I could cross some long-standing things off my list (like backpack and raincoat). I also do know that some things can only happen in person in the tactile world.
Thanks again. Much love and appreciation.”
This was a great learning experience for me. I can totally imagine doing more and more consultations like this.
What I will say in my reply is, “Thanks, Carrie, for getting me out of the dressing room and in front of the computer where it worked so well for you! Let’s do it again!”
Have you discovered less traditional ways of working with your clients? Gosh, I’d love to hear about it!