customer service assumptions

CX Storytime Tale of The Jilted Jewelry Store

Being treated like a thief, is not how you build a relationship, in life, in love and certainly not on the floor of a jewelry store.

Stay tuned for a story of growing anticipation, inappropriate assumptions and a seller scorned.

This is the Customer Experience Storytime tale of…. The Jilted Jewelry Store

The Story


Joan certainly didn’t think, on such a sunny Thursday afternoon, she would be mistaken for a criminal.

At that moment, all she was focused on was the clock and how soon her lunch break would start. She wasn’t having a bad day or anything. If anything, it had been having a pretty fun and productive day at her office. So it wasn’t a blissful 45 minute of escape on her mind. Nor was it the buttered chicken lunch she had packed herself that day that she usually would eat in the nearby park. She’d be having that at her desk later on.

On her mind was a beautiful silver necklace. A necklace that would soon be hers.

For the last few months, this beautiful piece of jewelry had caught Joan’s eye. She’d seen it in her favourite jewelry boutique’s window and had been admiring it for a while. It was such a cliché but she didn’t care. She really wanted it.

She finally made her move a few days ago, finally motivating herself to slip into the store and put the necklace on hold.

Those days had now passed. So, when the clock struck noon, Joan excitedly got up from her desk and rushed out the door, down the stairs to the street below.


Joan walked through the boutique’s doors where a woman immediately greeted her.

Smiling, the lady at the counter said, “Have you never been here before? We’re a store of makers.”

Joan thought that was a weird assumption to make, but responded by letting her know she had been in many times and gladly informed her she I loved the store and was there to pick up a necklace she’d placed on hold.

The staff member went below the counter for a few moments where she found the necklace. She then stepped over to the cash register and prepared to ring the jewellery through

Joan stopped her, asking “do you mind if I try it on again first?”

She really loved the necklace but wanted to ensure it was the perfect fit and look like she’d hoped it would be.

This request seemed to visibly throw the cashier off. Like this was a bit of information that didn’t compute with her. She agreed.

Joan took back the necklace and made her way a few steps to a mirror. She also noticed the cashier following her, and then fiddling with various items in the area while Joan tried it on.

Then came the bad news. Joan knew it instantly. She wasn’t going to get the necklace.

It was not in fact the right style. It turned out that the pendant had sharp edges that might catch clothing, or even a finger, and it hung just at an odd angle. Joan was crushed. She had had such high hopes.

Now, her immediate thought was to just put it back and leave, but she had wanted this necklace for a long time, and she really, really WANTED it to work. It was the perfect colour and style… She needed time to think. So, she removed the necklace from her neck and held it in her hand as she walked away from the mirror to gaze around at the other items. Joan admired a pair of earrings, a scarf. All the while, thinking of how she could adjust the necklace, or what she could wear it with to make it work.

She then noticed an odd thing. The cashier was still, and very closely, shadowing her.


Despite the fact that there were at least five other people in the small shop, Joan couldn’t ignore the fact the woman continued to hover, even at one point coming up and suggesting she might like this item or that item to go with the initial necklace.

Joan thanked her and said she was still looking and still considering, then she moved to another corner of the store.

At this point, the staff woman again slowly followed, twiddling this and that along her way behind her to look occupied.

Finally, as if she couldn’t take it any longer, she said, “So are you going to get the necklace?”

Joan stared at her, surprised. “I’m still deciding actually,” she said.

“Well then, can I take it to the counter for you?” remarked the retailer.

“Actually, I was holding it to see if I like it and if it resonates with anything else in the store.”

The staff member seemed dismayed by this, and stared impatiently for a moment.

Feeling uncomfortable with the situation, and coming to terms that she’d have to spend some time correcting this new piece of jewellery, Joan finally turned to the woman and apologised but said she was not going to get the necklace.

“I think I will release this back to the store,” I said smiling and trying to cut through the obvious awkwardness with a little bit of humour.

The woman did not crack a smile. No reaction at all.

“Well,” she said, quickly snapping it back out of Joan’s hands, “This is a very popular item. If you don’t want this, someone else will.”

With that, she turned her back to Joan and went back to hang the necklace, without even a goodbye, a good day, or thanks for coming in.

Joan was left stunned. She didn’t know if she had been viewed as a thief who could bolt out the door at anytime, or as a someone who had rejected a would be lover’s advances.

Either way, this wasn’t a relationship she wanted to revisit.

And that ends the story of… The Jilted Jewelry Store

Friend Filter aka How is this Perceived by the Customer?

Through the eyes of this customer, let’s look at the emotional impact of this customer experience.

In Joan’s own words, she felt like she was a criminal. That spending too long looking at an item meant she would swipe it. She hadn’t acted inappropriately, her outfit wasn’t suspicious… she had no idea why she’d been treated the way she had.

She really did want the necklace, and if she’d been given a few more uninterrupted moments, she probably would have bought the jewellery.

And the final statement of “This is a very popular item. If you don’t want this, someone else will.” Was she trying to shame Joan for not buying? It came off more as a someone trying to justify the value of their business or as a jilted lover.

Unfortunately, the feeling finally was that if she had made the purchase, she would have only remembered this terrible store experience every time she wore it.

What Worked or Could Have Been Done Better

From this tale, what’s the one thing your business can take away to better serve your customers.

Embrace Situational Awareness

  1. Read the Room – one of the greatest skills you can work on is your ability to read your customers. Their body language, their tone… all of it tells a story on whether they want your help or want to be left alone. By understanding their needs, you as a business can be there for them rather than assuming or pushing your agenda on them. You can certainly make friendly suggestions but in this case, Joan knew she was being watched and suspected of doing something inappropriate. Fiddling with a few products in her vicinity isn’t “ninja enough” to mask that.
  2. Give them Space – the time of the pushy sales person is long gone. Customers are savvy enough to know what they want and when they need assistance. As a business, the best tactic is to be helpful, solve your customer’s problems and work to build a meaningful relationship that might have future benefits. Aka they’ll come back.

Letting Joan work out her needs in her head, could have and would have equaled a sale. And possibly others.

Morale of the Story:

Assuming Makes an Ass out of U and Me

Making assumptions is never a good move. You’re putting your own biases, context and history on a situation that might not be right. In this case, the clerk assumed Joan had never been in, assumed she wanted to buy right away and assumed she was going to run off with the necklace. None of these assumptions will lead Joan back to the door of this business.


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