- On November 16, 2012
Our short hike to one of the popular tourist spots in Country Two took us past a half-block area set up with craft stalls. I was pleasantly surprised that the sales techniques here are more engaging.
‘Madam, where are you from? What is your name? I am Joseph. Do you enjoy your visit to my country? I have a lovely (insert craft item here) that will help you remember what a beautiful place you have been to when you are back in your city. ‘
OK, you’ve peaked my interest—you’ve made our relationship more personal by asking about me, sharing our names, and suggesting that you might have a solution for me.
“This wood carving (or hand painted picture, bracelet, basket, whatever) is a skill I learned from my grandfather. It is traditional for our country. This will remind you of our people and show your friends how beautiful (Country Two) is and they should come to visit also. You will give them my name?”
Nice interaction so far. Joseph then quotes an outrageous price and I counter with less than half what he asked for. (The local guides have given us the head’s up that negotiating to half price is fair, respectful, and expected.) Hemming and hawing ensue to find the balance between fair return for the seller and good value for the buyer.
We finally agree on the price for a carved bowl…amazingly half the original quoted price…and Joseph throws in a small carved stone charm to seal the deal. Ooh, I got something for nothing…a sign of good faith or I that I paid too much? Joseph carefully wraps my purchase in old newsprint and we shake hands. The sellers in the next stall start enticing chatter to turn my attention to their goods, but I am mentally spent from our price jiggering and short on local currency, still needing to negotiate the taxi ride back to the lodge.
I enjoyed the customer experience in Country Two much more than in Country One. There was some fun repartee and an effort at personal connection, yet it still required mental exhaustion on my part to assess what I felt was a fair deal for me as the buyer and also be respectful of the seller’s livelihood.
While the target of our transaction was a teak bowl, the ‘solution’ to my desire to purchase something practical and unique to bring home could have been solved by any number of items on display and any one of the dozens of chatty vendors lining the craft stalls. Joseph just happened to reach me first and convince me that his craft item was the ‘best’ solution to my need.
Is this customer experience as good as it gets? One more country to visit.