Over the Easter weekend, I popped in a store I used to manage years ago. My visit reminded me of a story I have used to train for customer service seminars on how important it is not to “size up” a customer too quickly.
All too often, salespeople can lose a sale and create an unhappy customer by incorrectly judging a customer on how much they think they might be able to spend.
You really can’t judge a book by its cover
Once, when I was a store manager in a children’s formal wear store, an elderly woman walked in with a little girl. They weren’t dressed very well. Old shoes, outdated clothes, no manicure… obviously not a regular customer.
One of my salespeople greeted her well enough, but then she walked away and left the older woman and the child to themselves so she could move on to another better dressed customer who walked in after them. I walked over to the area where the older woman and child were looking at some dresses and overheard her say to the little girl, “We’re going to find just the right dress for your communion, honey. Granny’s been saving up all year so you just pick the one you like the best.”
My heart just filled up. The other customer had now gone and yet the salesperson did not re-approach the grandmother and her granddaughter. I promptly took her in the back and scolded her for not re-attending to them and told her to give them the best damned customer service she had ever given – and to make their whole shopping experience extra special.
If I had not been there to witness the salesperson’s neglect and overhear the grandmother’s remark, the salesperson may never have properly attended to their needs. The grandmother would have sensed being somewhat “unwelcome” by the salesperson, possibly embarrassed, rejected, and most important, become an unhappy and unsatisfied customer.
Fortunately, the sale was to a proud and happy grandmother because her little granddaughter would have a special communion dress after all. Yes, that customer was unlikely to have ever come back unless another special occasion arose, but now she had a great experience to share with everyone she knew who might also be customers. If the story had turned out differently, she may have been bitter about the experience and had no kind words to say about the store.
All it really takes is learning a little more about your customers’ reason for their visit before you “discard” them for potentially not measuring up to the merchandise.
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