Retailers: Be aware of how you are being represented!

My wife and I just returned from Boston visiting family, sightseeing and of course shopping. One day we went to Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall and The Gallery at Copley Square. We looked around more than we bought but I was stunned by one observation; the attitude of most of the staff.

With the cutbacks in sales staff, those remaining are working additional hours and should certainly feel the pressure to making sales. Consequently there are a lot of worried and tired folks out there. Our first stop was a kiosk at Quincy Market. The owner, sitting on a stool, never made an attempt to acknowledge our presence. When my wife finally went over it was as if the owner was “doing us a favor” to wait on us. After a few minutes of conversation she seemed to perk up and as my wife engaged her in further dialogue the owner became more animated and actually became interested in what was being said. The result was she made a sale, but how many others would have simply walked away? How many of you would you have tolerated her attitude? Were it not for my wife, I would have walked within seconds.

Entering several other shops we were met with less than enthusiastic greetings, if any at all. The clerks looked like “deer in the headlights.” The lackluster greeting of “may I help you” was matched with our “no thanks, just looking.” In a boutique department store we watched a manufacturer’s rep. sharing product knowledge with the associates who, it was obvious, were not that interested.

Even in a top-of-the-line department store we experienced a mixture of “don’t bother me” or “do I have to leave the group I am chatting with” body language. Eventually we did find several energetic sales associates and made a couple of small purchases. Our interest (and our spending) picked up when we were engaged with those showing a genuine caring attitude.

It makes no difference if you are an individual proprietor or the manager of a large department store because employees who deal with your client’s day in and day out are representing you. The challenge for all retailers is to meet or exceed a customer’s expectations. Ken Blanchard, in his book “Raving Fans,” hits the nail on the head with his rules for creating exceptional and loyal customers. I recommend it highly. Click here for my “Recommended Reading” link.

I’d love to hear your customer service stories. With your permission I’ll publish them on this site and let them be a lesson to all. Take a moment to write me your favorites;


Coach Katz