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.
EXPERT – Someone having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience.
This 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.
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.
Standing 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.)
I 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.
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.
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.
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.
As stores begin to make room for their summer assortment, they discount their winter outerwear making January a great time to buy. I decided to take advantage of this and headed to the mall to find my next winter jacket. (It did not hurt that holiday weekend sales events were in full swing.)
Walking towards the storefront of one of my favorite brands, I saw signs proclaiming “EVERYTHING UP TO 60% OFF!” The signs only served to feed my expectations as I entered the store and walked past a salesman posted just inside the front door. It was poor form of him to not greet me as I passed since he was not busy with anything. Continuing further into the store, I began checking out a rack of men’s winter jackets. The clerk finally called out a friendly greeting.