Consumers Just Looking

Jun 03, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Few things are more important in retail than how store associates greet and offer to help customers. Why then, experts wonder, do so many do it so badly.

Jeff Mowatt, a corporate trainer, told The Washington Post, one of the biggest mistakes a store associate can make is asking a customer, “May I help you?”

The reason the question doesn’t work in many cases is because it puts the shopper on the defensive. The usual response in this case is “Just looking.”

A better alternative because it leaves the decision on whether to receive help or not up to the shopper is “Let me know if I can help you.”

Proper technique in approaching shoppers is a matter of training according to Mr. Mowatt. “There’s a difference between educating and scripting folks. When they know why, they also know when to use it and when not to use it.”

Moderator’s Comment: Are retailers adequately training
associates in the area of customer service? What retailers best exemplify a
company-wide commitment to customer service?

Our experience is that there are two kinds of people.
Those who like and get along with others and those who do better on their own.
Put the first group on the floor and at the checkout. Let the others go into
accounting. [George
Anderson – Moderator

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