Retail Customer Service: Silence Is Deadly

November 03, 2015

retail customer service how to greet a customerI was on a mission, I wanted to shop but I refused to buy anything if the salespeople didn't say a word to me. I was looking for a repeat Amanda experience.

So, armed with cash and credit cards I headed out to a town with very upscale, smaller retailers.

The first store I entered, the employee was behind the counter. Another employee entered the store and the first employee looked up to talk to them about lunch.

I continued to browse the high-end nicknaks and considered an object. I picked it up, the first employee came by me and went to the backroom where I overheard more talk about lunch.

Not a word to me or the other people in the store.

The second store had a stream of customers entering and leaving - without bags. I entered to discover a woven basket filled with colorful men's wool socks for $30 from Guatamala. In looking around I discovered the owner (?) employee (?) sitting down behind a bunch of merchandise. It looked like she had a fort of merchandise to protect her.

Not a word, just glaring. I left without purchasing - like everyone else.

As I was walking up the street to the next retailer a woman called me over. "Look at this," she said. "This guy is laying on the couch. Guess he doesn't want to sell anything." I looked in.

Sure enough, there was a guy laying on his stomach on an orange sofa. By now the woman had a couple join us too. The couch guy waved at us like he thought we thought it was funny.

It wasn't.

The next store was a new 10,000 sq. foot home store. I entered to find the owner and an employee behind the counter talking. I walked around for several minutes, a couple left and the owner disappeared upstairs. I picked up a couple objects along the way but remembered my mantra: no purchase if they are silent. The woman remained behind the counter occasionally glancing up.

As I left through the front doors, the woman at the counter, who was now checking something online called after me, "Good-bye."

That was it...

I turned around and said, "It's interesting that you could say good-bye to me, yet never say a word to me while I was in your store for over ten minutes. I guess business is good." I headed back out the door to her stunned face - along with the owner's.

OK, I can be a jerk at times to stores not taking the customer seriously but you probably knew that by now.

That's when it hit me, wouldn't it be great to let owners know they missed out on a sale?

Something discreet and yet impossible to miss.

how to leave customer complaintThat's when I came up with this little card. 

How would you feel if you found this laying on a display table?

Who would you blame, the customer, the employee or the economy?

What would you do in response if you saw a woman place this on a display and walk away?

Run after her, write her off as a wacko, or fret?

See also, Greeting Your Customer: Tagging Leads to Higher Retail Sales

In Sum

Retail customer service is acknowledging there is a person in front of you, who drove or walked past a lot of other businesses to give you the opportunity to get some of their disposable income. More than likely they could have just gone online to get what they needed but for some reason, on this day, they chose your business to shop.

If you don't treat their interest in your store with respect by talking to them, they'll continue to look around. And leave. And that's deadly.

You can decry the economy, the lower foot traffic, the online competition and the weather but one thing remains...you more of then than not lost the sale by not valuing the human being in front of you.

We're not invisible. We're customers...

Click the image below if you'd like to know more about how to compete in an omnichannel, always-on retail world.

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