It was bad enough that two employees were talking on the sales floor while people all around them went unserved, but it was their discussion was what put it over the top.
(I share the story only to illustrate the types of discussions that should not be held on the sales floor.)
The first employee was asking the second one how they had been. The first employee then went on to describe that flu that she had suffered through. She said that several times when she ran to the bathroom she could not decide whether she should bend over or sit down as “it was coming out of both ends!” I expected the other employee to be a bit put off by such a topic on the sales floor within ear shot of customers. Continue reading
A neon sign outside of a Portland restaurant. You have to appreciate their honesty.
He was timid, reserved and soft-spoken. We have all run across this type of customer before. It’s challenging to get them to warm up to you, they can be slow to offer information and they can even be hard to hear.
I greeted him and asked him what brought him into the store today. A rather defensive “I just came in to look” was his response. So I told him to look around and that I would check back in a few minutes if he ran across any questions and then I set off to help others who had just entered the store.
As I circled back to him after a few minutes, it was clear to me that he that he truly was looking for something specific as he studied the hang tags and pulled garments off racks to look at. It seems that he had needed some time to decompress and check things out on his own terms when he first entered our store. I re-approached him.
This second post on working with experts looks at the customer that perhaps grossly over-estimates their knowledge, is mistaken or is just plain wrong.
Marshall Field supposedly said “The customer is always right.” This is a great way to proceed with your customers unless they are wrong.
In these situation, you can turn to Aleister Crowley and his less famous quote for guidance “The customer is usually wrong but statistics indicate that it doesn’t pay to tell him so.” So, what do you do when the customer is wrong? The key when working with pseudo-experts is to be patient, gentle and respectful.
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.
(Observed in the CityTarget in Portland yesterday)
The customer offered a heartfelt, “Thank you.”
The cashier stopped. Smiled. Then replied “You are most welcome!”
Well done. Slowing down for just a moment in this busy season demonstrated the employees sincerity.
Chilton Table in Spalted Sugarberry by Room & Board
As we continued through Room & Board, I was feeling less and less inclined to spend any money there and was anxious to leave.
But then, towards the back of the store, we found ourselves standing in front of an interesting piece, the Chilton Table in Spalted Sugarberry. My wife and I looked at one another and began to talk about how we both truly admired the table. We also admitted that neither of us cared all that much for our current dining room table bought less than 3 years ago.
As we stood examining the table and discussing how a table like this would be great to have in our home, an amazing thing happened. Amazing since I had long since given up hope that anyone would ever greet us much less offer any help.
A smiling Room & Board employee stepped up to a nearby computer terminal to lookup some information. While going about her business, she turned to my wife and I and said, “Isn’t it a beautiful table?”
“It is beautiful,” my wife responded.
Making a return is not something that most people look forward to at a retail store. Making a return means that you failed at your earlier attempt to successfully buy something. Maybe it didn’t meet your needs, it was the wrong size or color, it did not fit or you just didn’t like it. Making the return is usually inconvenient and certainly takes time and effort. So, why do stores make it worse than it has to be?
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.
I stopped by a local shop the other day. I was in a hurry and just needed to pick up one thing. Grabbing the item, I headed to the registers.
Along the way, I overheard a customer talking with a salesperson.
“It’s as if you didn’t hear anything that I’ve said!”
That is a phrase you never want to hear a customer say and I know that interaction had gone badly. I only wish that I hadn’t been in such a rush or I would have stopped to observe more. I moved on to the registers and was quickly out the door. As I was getting on my bicycle, I looked up to see the customer getting in his car and driving away; empty-handed.