There are days in sales when you are inspired by your customers, you are ignited by your passion, and you are driven by your successes. However, this is not every day. There are other days when you feel so berated by customers and overrun by your failures; you find yourself sifting through a blog on creating positive customers in hope for a fresh spark of inspiration. When it feels like the latter days outweigh the previous, any spark will do.
But what if we could turn that around? No, you can’t control who walks in the door just like I can’t force you to delve into the many-layered realms of this blog, but we can control ourselves and the way we choose to approach even the most difficult customers.
1. Choose Your Attitude
You are in control, despite how it may feel when you are being told by a customer how to count their change, you are in control. You are in control of your thoughts, your emotions, and your power. You can choose just how much a difficult customer can negatively affect you.
Do you allow them to have the power over you? Perhaps instead allow their negativity to slick off of you into a puddle beneath your feet? You are in control of the environment, you provide to your customer through your emotions. Your mere presence makes you the captain of this ship. Is this ship welcoming and safe, or is it difficult and confusing?
When I was a thespian in high school, there hung a sign above the door:
Leave Your Problems At This Threshold
Once that portal is crossed from the hallway to the stage your life ends and the character’s life begins. As a shopgirl I cross those doors and I leave all my problems behind so that I can come in playing the role as the eager helpful associate/manager/sales rep. I am optimistic for my day, which leads me to be excited to be at work, and eager to reach out and make people laugh. My main focus and only personal goal (outside of my obvious sales) is to make sure not one customer leaves my store without a smile. After all my job is all about my customers.
2. Ask Them About Their Day
Ya ya ya ya…your standard greeting. Except I want you to mean it. I want you to really wonder how that person’s day is going. How can we understand our customer, if we don’t understand their mindset? How could you know if their bitterness came from the fact that their dear aunt died last week, or if they are a bundle of nerves because they could be a new father at any moment? What is an average Tuesday to you, may be an integral day in your customer’s life story.
…or perhaps, they’ll just blow off your gesture, they may obnoxiously respond to your, “How are you doing today” with a wave of their hand and an “I’m just looking, thank you.”
“But, how are you doing? Really?”
3. Develop a Thesaurus
Just like you may ignore a “just fine” from your customer, they will ignore the assumed ‘fine’ from you. I came up with a list of terms one rarely hears any longer (do be mindful of your clientele and demographic):
- Just swell!
This unique ear-catching method will subtly catch your customers’ attention, and let them know that their questions are important to you; it establishes a connection from the beginning. It may even do most of the work of connecting with your customer for you by sparking further conversation.
“Bodacious,” they say, “I haven’t heard that since the nineties!”
I have also found that it keeps me more aware of my surroundings, and a bit more upbeat of an attitude as the day wears on.
4. Make It Personal
There are several ways to acquire your repeat customers’ names. You can ask when setting them up with a dressing room. You can ask when handling a return. I always checked ID with every credit card transaction and when I did this I made the effort to actually consciously repeating back the names as they appear on the card. I would refer to them with respect Mr & Ms, never assuming Mrs. as I thanked them.
“Thank you for shopping with us today Ms. Smith, we do hope to see you again!”
Making it personal makes a customer feel accepted, and safe. When a customer feels safe they feel understood which lowers their level of agitation. The fact that you acknowledge that they are unique individual communicates to them that they are more than a pocketbook, they are your customer.
5. Make ’em Laugh.
When you are having fun and laughing it resonates amongst the store. The trick is don’t just have fun and laughter with your team, but include the customers. It doesn’t have to be an outrageous laugh, just a chuckle or a smile will do.
Depending on your demographic will range how far you can take the laughter, I’ve gone as far as to create a conga line through the aisles on my truly sleep deprived nights. But just a simple cheesy line that you may say over and over and over again about a particular product or department will do the trick.
“Don’t you love our aroma oils? My favorite is Lick Me All Over, have you smelled it?”
***Stay away from any humor that could be offensive to any races, genders, religions, or politics.
6. How Can I Help Them Feel Helped?
What are they needing? A return over its time limit? Perhaps I could create a compromise with an in-store exchange? Perhaps I could work out a damaged product discount for someone who was unintentionally wronged by our strained policies? I can’t help you, was never in my vocabulary, instead I thought,
How can I make lemons into lemonade and bring them back for more?
The customer doesn’t always have to be right, but they should be happy.
7. Turn Up the Volume
Make yourself heard when customers enter your store. Show excitement for their arrival as if they were just the ones you’ve been waiting for all day. Speak not from your throat but from your diaphragm, yes I know my inner thespian is showing on this one, but speaking up makes a difference.
“Hi, how are y’all fairing?! So happy you made it to….., My name is Jess if you need any help I’ll be right here!”
8. Check Your Body Language,
This was my biggest challenge, and to be honest still is. I’m an arm crosser and pocket dipper. A way around this is to keep busy, I fold T-Shirts or dust shelves between customers. This keeps me on the floor and my hands away from my body.
Obviously, do not sulk while holding down the counter. Do not text on your iPhone screen under the register (you’re not that sneaky) or obsessively studying the screen of the POS. Your appearance can make a huge difference in the attitude your customer will approach you with. Remember you are not invisible, you are the ringleader, all eyes are on you.
Homework: Check your facial expressions in the mirror, are you smiling generally or are you severely suffering from a social disability known as RBF (resting bitch face)? Ask the people around you all the time if you appear pleasant to others. Those who do suffer from RBF do not have an excuse and will have to be extra mindful of practicing their smile as often as possible on their own time as well as at work.
9. Be In The Moment
Identify struggling customers. Identify disruptive customers. Watch for customers ready to check out. Watch for customers who are carrying a load of product, could you offer them a basket or to hold their items? Don’t be on the phone while ringing up a customer; at this moment the customer standing in front of you is investing in your company and should receive your appreciation through undivided attention.
…never let your customers for a moment feel they are ignored or unimportant to you.
10. Maintain the Shop
Are all your products labeled correctly? Is everything priced? Is your shop customer friendly? Are your shelves and product dust free? Are they displayed in orderly lines? Are dressing rooms cleaned, and electric scooters charged? Be proactive and prevent situations that are common customer agitators.
11. Provide Customer Centric Service
Feed the inner narcissist that lives in all of us, and make them the center of your world. Truly set up dressing rooms for them classily displaying their selections. Offer the perfect additions to help complete the outfit or novelty collection. Offer to carry heavier or cumbersome items to the register or perhaps even as far as to the car. Offer help for items just out of reach without having to be asked. Remember to continuously check in on all your customers, particularly on the incredibly hectic weekends.
12. A Sincere Thank You
This will let them know their happiness and satisfaction was an important goal of yours. Wear a smile and maintain eye contact.
- If you are a customer where are you receiving the best customer service, what does it take to make you smile?
- If you are a retail employee how are you providing any of these 10 experiences on the floor?
Originally posted March 17th 2015