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What a Couch Shopping Trip Taught Me About Authentic Connections

3 min read

She asked probing, insightful questions, and at no point did it feel like a sales pitch. Rather, she and I had a conversation and she uncovered my needs.

Just a few Saturdays ago, I found myself at Jordan’s Furniture. For those of you unfamiliar with Jordan’s, it’s a chain of furniture stores found in the Northeast. The founders, Barry and Elliot, have incredibly thick Boston accents and have been featured in multiple commercials over the years. If you grew up in New England – or have lived here long enough – you know who they are.

That being said, there I was. And I have to tell you – Jordan’s is absolutely massive – like, send-out-a-search-party-because-I-took-a-wrong-turn-at-the-armoires massive. I was shopping by myself and the look of sheer puzzlement on my face caught the eye of a saleswoman there, Joyce Swanson.

“You look lost,” Joyce said. “Is there anything I can help you with?”

I explained to Joyce that my family and I were in need of living room furniture.

Now she could have gone straight to the most expensive couch there and taken me for a ride
…but she didn’t.

In fact, Joyce gave me one of the best customer experiences I’ve ever had. She asked probing, insightful questions, and at no point did it feel like a sales pitch. Rather, she and I had a conversation and she uncovered my needs. Here’s a taste of how it went:

What do you need to replace?

I explained to her that our living room set was old.

Who’s at home?

I explained to Joyce that it’s mainly my wife and me, and our teenage daughter who will be leaving for college next year.

Will this be used for mainly decorating (meaning it will only be used during holidays that happen twice a year)? Or will this be used as your family’s main sofa?

I told her it would be used as my family’s main sofa set.

What do you do on your current couch now?

For a number of purposes. I explained it’s where my family watches TV. I reluctantly told her it’s occasionally where we eat dinner. My wife and I will read on the couch. I told her that I even take naps on it.

How do you take naps on your current couch?

At this point, Joyce has me lying down to show her the angle I typically fall asleep at to see how comfortable I’d be.

Where is the TV in the room?

As we tried out different couches, the angle got to be important. If I’m laying down, am I still comfortable when I’m watching TV? Is the arm of the couch uncomfortable? You should have seen me and her interact! I had to keep mimicking the same angle on different couches to find the right fit.

As we went through the questioning process, Joyce was able to nail down which couch was best suited for my family’s needs. She had me feel different types of fabric to see which I liked best – I ended up choosing a nice leather.

Joyce stuck with me from start to finish, and at no point was she ever selling me furniture – which is her job. No. She was helping me pick the furniture that was best for my needs.

Once we decided on the “winning” couch, the rest of the experience only got better. Joyce quickly typed in all my information into Jordan’s ordering form. Now from a customer point of view, this was seamless. And Joyce knew exactly how to navigate it. Efficient, knowledgeable, and present – this trip couldn’t have gone better.

She thanked me for my business and I was on my way.

After I left the store, I received a text message from Joyce saying how much she enjoyed our conversation and to let her know if I needed anything else. The great customer experience continued on with the rest of the Jordan’s team: I got an email letting me know when my couch was going to be delivered, which was nailed down more accurately as the delivery date approached.

As I told this story to my staff at an all-company meeting, one of our project managers started smiling. Turns out, Joyce Swanson is well-known at my company.

Think about that for a moment. In an era where people almost prefer to interact less with salespeople – at a time when most people would rather click a few times and order online — we’ve got Joyce Swanson. This furniture saleswoman at a local chain of dealers created such a legendary customer experience for my staff member that she also remembered her name, long after she bought the furniture!

And thanks to this article, so will you. How many furniture store salespeople do you know? Do you remember the name of the person who sold you your car? How about your computer?

Presence matters in sales. Joyce understood my needs and created such an authentic connection that I told my employees about it. And now I’m telling you.

Shouldn’t we all strive to have every customer experience call us to tell others how remarkable it was?


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