TMI

My wife and I were in a big box hardware store the other day day dreaming about some home improvements. It was easy to wander and talk since we were not bothered by any employees during our time in the store.

While looking at tile, we were approached by a sales associate who asked if we needed any help. We said that we did not need help but were just wandering around. Moments later another associate entered the aisle and also offered assistance.  We politely declined.

Moments later the two associates began discussing one of their’s physical maladies.  While 10 feet away, my wife and I had to listen how different pain killers made them nauseous causing vomiting and diarrhea.  The continued to talk about their health issues while we beat a hasty retreat from the aisle.

Hey associates, do not talk about personal issues within ear shot of customers.

…I am going to have to go home and think about it.

As I strolled up to the door of the store in a sleety squall, I noticed a woman in her 50s getting out of a new Lexus LS also heading for the door.  I held the door so she could get out of the weather more quickly.  (I was not being chauvinistic just courteous, I would have held the door for anyone.)

As she passed, I observed, “That is a beautiful car.”

“Do you thinks so?” she responded.  “I just got it and I love it.”

“Yes,” I said, “it is quite nice”

“Thank you,” she said as I noticed her Rolex watch.

Why do I mention the Lexus and the Rolex?  Well, anyone in sales learns to recognize simple things about their customers that might help them learn a bit more about the customers.  To me, this person was a person of means.

Once inside the store, we headed in different directions but our paths crossed later again in the camping equipment area.  (Yes, it was an outdoor store.)  While I was  looking over some product, the woman that I came in with was approached by a sales associate who offered assistance.

By Scott Ehardt – Own work, Public Domain,

“I came in to pick up a headlamp.  My friend has one and she really likes it.”

I thought to myself that she was a transactional customer with few requirements.  I figured a few questions from the sales assoiciate would have her on her way with a headlamp in a matter of minutes.  But I was mistaken.

Rather than asking her what she would use the headlamp for or what headlamp headlamp her friend had and liked, the sales associate went into an in-depth clinic on headlamps.

He talked about type of bulbs, lumens versus watts, brightness levels, strap types, brands available, run time claimed by the manufacturer, actual run time, maximum beam distance, red lens options, strobe or non-strobe functions, rechargeable, non-rechargeable and combinations of both, helmet compatibility, blah, blah, blah.  He continued to talk puking product information on her at a truly amazing rate.  As he droned on, never asking her any questions or checking for understanding, you could see the shopper glaze over and take a step back.

After what seemed like an eternity, he finally stopped.  It was at this point that the shopper looked at him with a confused look on her face and said, “You have given me more than enough to think about.  I guess I am going to have to go home and think about it.”  The sales associate simply replied, “Well if you think of any other questions, I will be around” as he turned and walked away.

The woman turned and walked towards the door.

An easy sale completely messed up by the sales associate.  Here was a woman of means who simply wanted a headlamp, maybe like her friends.  Price was not going to be an issue.  A few simple questions would have gotten her a fine headlamp that probably would have more than satisfied her needs.  Instead, her attempt to simply pick up a headlamp was thwarted by an incompetent yet well-meaning sales associate.

A Nice Touch – Williams-Sonoma

While purchasing a new piece  of cookware at William-Sonoma, I was invited to join their rewards program, The Key.  The cashier turned to another employee and asked how to  enroll the person on the register so that the customer does not have to go through the hassle of using the small and glitchy keypad.  ANTImage result for williams sonoma

The Greeting Part 3: Just doing what I am told?

Walking through the mall today, I stopped into a store.  Not that I was looking for anything in particular, it was just that I had not visited this store recently.  As I crossed the threshold, I was spotted by the friendly and vigilant salesperson who quickly shouted out a “Welcome in” greeting.  Not in the mood to talk with any clerks, I boded and smiled then turned in the other direction trying to signal that I appreciated the greeting but I wanted to be left alone.

Much to my surprise, the salesperson had hustled around to get in front of me and once again extend their greeting. The conversation went something like this.

“Welcome in”

“Thanks, I heard you the first time.”

“Can I help you find anything today?”

“No, I just came in to kick around.” I hoped that would signal to leave me be. At this point I was getting a bit annoyed. He was friendly and attentive which I could appreciate but he was attentive to a fault.

“That’s fantastic.  Feel free to look around.”

“Thanks, I will.”  Great, I thought I would finally be able to wander in peace.

“Just so you know, almost everything in the store is on sale.”  (I had gathered that by all the signs, toppers and the easel at the entry way providing me with that same information.)

“Thanks, I will just want to look around.”

“That’s fine…Actually all of our winter wear is up to 60% off.”

I did not respond and just continued walking away.

“Okay then,” he responded, “I will just let you look around.”

Ah, the magic words.  All I came in for was to walk around and check things out AND finally, it appeared I would be allowed to wander in peace.  But NO.

“I will check back with you.” After which I shot him a glare that I hoped would tell him that I would prefer to be left alone. Not able to leave well enough alone, he added, “My name is _______ if you need anything you can track me down.”

Now I understand that they were just trying to make me feel welcome and more than likely they were possibly trained or coached to be persistent in offering service.  But clearly this salesperson did not recognize that I needed and wanted to be left alone.  It appears that they felt obligated to say all the things as if getting through a script will aid in sales.

Annoying customers will never aid in conversion and increasing transaction size.

Having spoiled the mode for my visit, I made a shortened loop of the store and headed out the door.  Amazingly, I was not offered a farewell.

Oh, so shoppable!

 

The Greeting Part 2

I think that it is sometimes assumed that when new employees join our stores that they know how to properly greet our customers.  After all, they did greet us during the interview.  Unfortunately it has been my experience that many store employees do not know how to properly greet a customer. It seems in most retailers today, if an employee makes any effort to greet a customer the management is satisfied.  (As for those employees that are simply not inclined to greet customers, that is another issue all together.)

So what does a great customer greeting look like.  Here I will break it down.

Pre-Greeting  It is important that employees maintain their sight-lines so they can check for customers. If engaged in tasks, an employee should look up regularly from their work.

Acknowledge  If an employee spots a customers they should acknowledge them with eye contact and a smile.  A nod helps a customer know that they have been spotted.  If the customer maintains eye contact you know they need help and you should move to the next phase. If the customer nods and smiles in return but then looks away and  continues their wandering, you can assume that they do not need any immediate help.

Approach  If the customer maintains eye contact, you should approach them immediately. Walk towards them with a certain sense of urgency to show that you feel they are important.Step up to them and stop an arm’s length away from them.  The is the generally acceptable distance to maintain when talking with a customer.

If the customer backs off, do not move towards them.  The want more space.  If the customer moves toward you, hold your ground, they are likely a “close talker.” If a customer makes you uncomfortable being so close, simple pick up some product and hold it in front of you as if you needed to pick up that item as part of your work.

Engage  Now engage the customer.  First as a human being, not as a walking wallet.  Extend a friendly greeting to develop rapport than pivot to helping them with any immediate needs such as way-finding or a simple question.  Finally, you will be in position to move onto helping fulfill their needs.

Simple, effective, professional.