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.

The Greeting Part 1: That one didn’t count!

The non-greeting

I was out doing some shopping the other day and went to our local outlet mall looking for a pair of athletic pants.  They are nothing more than fancy, dressy sweat pants but they are comfortable and as a matter of fact I was wearing a pair when I went into their makers store.

Image result for nike swoosh

I was greeted warmly by the greeter/security at the front of the store as I continued into the store looking for the pants.  There was an employee wandering in my general direction.  As he passed, without making eye contact or slowing down, he asked if I was doing okay. Without hearing my response, he continued on his way.

All I wanted to know was if they had the pants I was wearing in stock and where they might be located.  A transactional customer that was looking to make a quick purchase. Easy money.  But this employee did not have the inclination to greet me in a proper fashion.  In fact, I bet that if you had asked him, he would have said that he had properly greeted me and that I did not need any help.  I would like to think that he had been trained to greet customers as part of his on-boarding.  But his greeting did not count.  Other than giving him the peace of mind that he had greeted me, it was completely ineffective.

( I soon found what I was looking for and quickly made my purchase.)

Another way not to coach

by Polylerus

by Polylerus

I stopped in national chain store at the mall the other day, drawn in by the signs in by the many promotional signs in the window.

Standing near the front of the store, an employee was working with a customer as a smiling manager approached.  Without so much as an introduction, the manager asked the customer, “Did he mention the sales going on?”

“Not yet,” responded the somewhat bewildered customer.

Turning to the employee, the manager continued, “I can’t believe you haven’t mentioned the promotions even after our huddle this morning. Jesus!”

At this point, I didn’t want to see any more and left the store.  I think the customer was thinking the same thing.

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The Expert – Part 1

EXPERT – Someone having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience.

expertThis is the first in a four-part series on dealing with experts in your retail store from several different perspectives.  For the sake of these posts, when I refer to an expert I am referring to someone who has advantaged knowledge or experience about the products being sold and their usage. Today’s perspective is dealing with a customer that is an expert.

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The poor backpack

Not the poor backpack

Not the poor backpack

There it sat, right in the middle of the aisle, the poor backpack. It had fallen from an overstocked fixture and now it sat in the middle of the main aisle circling the store. I am not sure how long it had been there when I spotted it.

Being small, the pack did not block traffic and was easy enough to walk around or step over. I figured that if it was still on the floor when I got to it, I would put it back on the fixture.

As I stood watching, I noticed two employees walking up the aisle towards the backpack. Ah, I thought, I won’t have to pick up the pack, surely one of these two employees will.  I was wrong.  In fact, one actually stepped over the pack and continued up the aisle.

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Only 2 seconds

Waste iconStanding at the end of the checkout conveyor, I waited for the cashier to finish scanning our groceries the other day so that I could bag them.   While waiting, I watched the parade of people go by on their way out of the store.

One shopper dropped a wrapper on the floor and continued out the door.  Seconds later, an employee walked by the trash heading towards the Customer Service counter when they stopped, turned, went back and picked the trash off the floor.  Depositing the trash in a nearby bin, he went on about his business.

Many times I have been in stores that had trash on the floor. Common sense says that managers shouldn’t have to train employees to pick up trash when they see it. But apparently they do.  Managers need to communicate how important keeping a store neat and clean is as part of customer service and that it takes little time or effort.  In this case, it couldn’t have taken more than 2 seconds.

(The store was WinCo, an employee owned no-frills grocer.)

Dropping off the card

Ret Doc cardI have followed Bob Phibbs, the The Retail Doctor for several years and I am a big fan of his work.  He once wrote about a card that he carried with him when he was out and if he ever visited a store and was ignored, he would leave the card when he exited the store.

When I read that post, I thought that is something that I should do.  So I produced a stack of the card that you see above and have carried them in my wallet ever since.  The other day, I dropped a card off in a local shop.

I just wish they knew that it was also a gift from Bob.

S-B-I-A

The Acme Thunderer -The World's Finest Whistle

The Acme Thunderer -The World’s Finest Whistle

One advantage that athletic coaches have over sales managers is their whistle.  When an athletic coach blows the whistle, everything stops and people listen.  More than once I longed for my Acme Thunderer to get the attention of one of my employees when they were messing up on the sales floor.

Ongoing coaching is critical for the development of effective and efficient retail sale people. The ability of managers to effectively communicate with their employees about their performance is often the difference between success and failure of both the employee and the store.

With so many retailers feeling the squeeze on payroll, many store employees receive little or no training before they are set free on the sales floor to see to the needs of the customers.  With limited training, sales people are left to learn, typically through trial and error , on the floor.  With an attentive and observant manager that is willing to coach, the salesperson will develop much quicker.

That is where coaching and SBIA model come in.

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An innings worth of strikes

Version 2

 

My wife and I went to our local bike shop to do some browsing. (Yes, some customers do just want to look around.) Entering the shop, we walked right into the middle of a very excited conversation with one voice louder than all others. Looking around, I discovered the voice belonged to an overly friendly employee that had obviously trapped a helpless customer. With his purchases clasped tightly in his hand and his bike lights already blazing and flashing, the customer was trying to inch towards the door while the employee continued to regale him with wild tales of his own recent bicycling adventures. The employee was talking so loudly; it appeared he missed the day in kindergarten when they teach about the difference between your indoor and outdoor voice as his carried clearly throughout the relatively small store.

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What is wrong with this picture?

Version 2

What is wrong with this picture? You don’t see it? Not sure? What is wrong will become clear by the end of the post.

Several weeks ago I was taking an evening walk when I had decided to stop by my neighborhood bookstore for a quick visit. Entering the store I saw that many of my neighbors apparently had the same idea as the store seemed unusually busy for a weekday night. Wandering through the store I found latest edition of a favorite magazine of mine, a book on the Top 10 Things to Do in Paris for an upcoming trip, a used book on backpacking I had been looking for and Oliver Sack’s autobiography, On the Move. Checking my watch I realized that I needed to get home so I gathered my new found treasures and headed to the cashier line. There I joined 5 others already waiting.

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