Doing the Robot Dance - Why Customers Stop Talking to Retail Employees

Bob Phibbs
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how to greet retail customer

Has this ever happened to you? You walk into a store you haven’t been in before because you saw something online, saw a nice window display, or were just curious?

Like spotting a friendly face in a crowded room, you went in with your heart open to what awaited.

When you moved through the door, no one noticed you. Not in a stalker at a bar way, but just a simple glance, a head nod, or even a friendly, “Hello.”

As you moved through the store your energy level began to wane, like a spurned lover you become aware of the time you were spending with no notice from the other person.

Then something amazing happens…

A retail employee comes over and your heart picks up a bit. "Maybe they do notice me", your subconscious rejoices. Nope, you hear, “How are you today?” You politely respond, “Fine,” and the robot dance is on.

“Finding everything all right?” they might ask. And you find yourself shut down into scripted replies like, “Yes, I’m just looking.” At which point they robotically say, “If you need anything, just let me know.”

Then you finish the robot dance with, “Thank you.”

Any wonder merchandise sits on the shelf?

Oh and you can substitute just about any doctor's office, receptionist, hotel clerk, government service - you name it - they are all just as guilty. But I have to ask you as a consumer ...

Aren’t you tired of the act-like-you-give-a-damn-about-the-person-in-front-of-you-and-repeat-the-same-senseless-script-every-single-time dance?

I’m sure if you were to ask them or their owner, those employees would say they were being “polite” and "not pushy.” In reality, they are rude as a guy sneezing into his hands and offering to shake your hands.

Why?

Because they are not valuing the person in front of them!

I’ve been known to reply to the robot dance question, “Let me know if I can help you find something” with “A million dollars in tens and twenties.” Some will laugh and snap out of the robot dance and laugh and share.

Some will guffaw and say nothing.

Still, others will have no response. That’s because they are dead.

  • Dead from too much rejection from customers
  • Dead from too much rejection from family
  • Dead from too much rejection of themselves

Here's the thing retailers...

You can’t have energy vampires on your sales floor!

As customers, we don’t want to have to endure the robot dance. We want sun sources who can meet us as we step through the door.

Is that so hard?

No.

See also: Retail Customer Service: Beware Disgruntled Employees

Stop the robot dance

So many retailers are looking for a quick fix to attract more customers to their stores. They firmly believe they have great customer service.

But they don't...

Is it any wonder their managers scratch their heads trying to come up with something to "motivate" these robots?

  • Contests?
  • Bonuses?
  • Commissions?
  • Team building?

They know they have to do something but like a bad archer, they keep missing the target. They have to give the skills for how to make each interaction special. Not just scripted, for that, can lead to a lack of engagement with customers.

Tinker with employees' engagement skills based on something like my Five Parts to a Successful Sale and you'll break down the robot encounters.

It is not the employee's job to "figure it out" as it is a monkey-see-monkey-do world.

Only when we stop the robot dance can we truly serve a customer, by becoming human. Until that happens, enjoy the piles of merchandise on your floor – they aren't going anywhere fast.

Take my free 5-part email course to learn how your retail store can outsell any online retailer. You can get started with your first lesson by entering your name and email address below ...

 

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