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From the physical world to the digital world

Laetitia Eden's profile picture Laetitia Eden on

When you work in a shop the first things that you are taught is that YOU are the ambassador of the shop. What that means is as soon as you are a salesperson in a shop like the Patisserie Serrat Pujola you have some liability; you should always be joyful, honest, and trustworthy.

When I was working I had to smile and be pleasant to the customers and never speak in a bad tone or with a bad attitude. Regardless of how I was spoken to I never showed that I had had a shitty day or that I was tired. Customers were there to buy cakes and sweets, not to listen to my personal story. I worked as if I was working in the best place ever. When outside of the boutique I had to continue to be nice and courteous. We had a lot of customers that were regulars so I had to be courteous with them when I met them in the street too.

Of course, I was also encouraged not to buy my cakes in an other shop, which makes sense. I had to show that I cared about "my bakery".

photo of bakery

I was left alone at the shop with the cash register and the owner trusted me 100%. It was a liability to be there behind the counter but I was so proud that they trusted me.

Always smile, Sure, I don't smile at the computer but what does that translate to in the digital word?  I am to be aware of how I talk (write) to our customers in customer support or through our website. It is also important to pay attention to what we write in our tweets.  The way we express ourselves and the message that we are sending. Those words are there to generate trust and have keywords that relate to our customers' needs.  We are there at customer support to help people and we are as pleasant as we can. 

I am loyal to my product and I won't get my domain name with another company and I believe in the product I am selling.  I do love where I work right now. I don't have to pretend that I am lucky to work in a company where we have flexible hours. With four kids, flexible hours mean the world!

Trust in the digital word is more about your teammates and the impact your work has on the company. I feel liable for what I do and I feel that they trust me to do the best I can at my job.

An exercise I learned while working at my bakery in Limoux was to be aware of the competition - go check the windows to see the cakes and the decoration and always be thinking about innovation. Believe me, creativity can lead to a pretty amazing bakery display. We were a team, the bakers would always make the best chocolate, nougat or cakes they could make and we would enhance their work by showcasing the products in nice boxes, colorful ribbons and in beautiful display. 

That can be applied in the digital word as our windows become our website, our logo, our stickers. The team is building features that the marketing department showcases and designers enhance it all. We are a team working with the same goal: make the product useful and pleasant to use.

"Reputation" we were known, and the bakery is still known today, to be the best ice cream makers and cakes bakers in town. Friends that visited us can all testify that it is indeed the truth, incredible éclairs and mille-feuilles. Monsieur Pujola was so proud of his cakes, he would come into the shop and help us sell, not because he had to but because he wanted to.

How does that translate in the digital word?  Word of mouth that the service you are running can be trusted is huge. That the engineers running the company want the best for the customers, to make their life easier. They try to put themselves in the shoes of the customer and say "ok how do I make it better not for me but for them?". In the digital world too you have the notion of "reputation" - good service, fair prices, decent user interface. Twitter can make you or break you in a minute and a nice blog can help you to launch a new feature. But everything is so huge and so non-material that is difficult to see and understand what the impact of going viral can be.

Marie, the woman who was my manager (she worked at the bakery for 45 years), was the person that taught me the most about being a salesperson, be kind and pay attention to others. I knew the clients by their last names. I knew what they liked or did not like.  I was able to choose for them if I had to. And most important, I knew about their lives and I was a good listener. I knew about their health, their family, I was part of their life. We had a heartfelt business relationship.

It's difficult to apply this notion in the digital word. We try our best with customer support and always look outside the boxes, but this heartfelt business relationship becomes an asset when we go to conferences.  We put a lot of creativity and effort in when we go to conferences. The most recent conference, Chefconf, is the perfect example.

photo from chefconf

Always the best for the customer, never an old cake, never a bad experience. If something was wrong we would fix it and apologize. We would have the opportunity to be in front of them and talk to them and exchange the product if necessary. 

In the digital word it's so much more difficult. Everything moves so quickly that there is no opportunity to talk to the customer and explain what is going on and why something is not working properly. Usually the assumption is that it is our fault and frankly if it's because we don't do a good job at explaining how to use our system, then indeed it is our fault. What I feel is regrettable is that the customer who is in a state of stress won't always take the time to contact us directly to figure out what is not working, they will immediately turn to twitter and be very vocal. The impact is serious for small companies like ours.

I am really sad about it but in the digital word, I feel as if people lose all sense of normal time and respect. Everything must be fixed right away and there is no patience, there is only sensitive time situation. I understand if your website is down, your business is down.  It is as if we didn't have electricity at the bakery and could not sell anything but in the digital world we have to remember that behind the machines are people who are doing the best they can to help out in difficult situation. Sometimes the electricity may have been cut because there was construction in the neighborhood and a cable was cut just remember there is nothing we could do about it.

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Laetitia Eden

Le bonheur ne s'achète pas mais on peut acheter du fromage et c'est presque pareil!

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