Retail Customer Experience: The 10 Essential Strengths of Front-Line Retail Employees
By Adrian Miller, President of Adrian Miller Sales Training
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary
of a current article from Retail Customer Experience, a daily news portal
devoted to helping retailers differentiate the shopping experience.
Most customers assume that small, local stores generally have a bigger focus
on customer-care excellence. However, this isn’t always the case.
of the greeter in Walmart who informs you of the current promotions and invites
you to stroll a bit and take advantage of the good deals. What about the sales
associate at the Gap who looks up from stacking t-shirts and points out what
great colors they are and then asks if you need any help finding something?
Of course, there are the local shop owners who always say hello and ask if
they can be of service.
What skills and qualities are required by retail sales
associates to facilitate positive initial engagements with customers?
Confidence: The confidence to make eye contact and strike up a conversation
with strangers is absolutely essential.
Innate friendliness: Customers don’t want to deal with sales
associates who have to force themselves to be pleasant and nice.
dealing with the public, things can go wrong. You have to be flexible enough
to roll with the punches and think outside the box sometimes.
Ability to multi-task: Sales associates have to juggle customers and
their questions and needs, and at the same time attend to their other store
Patience: Dealing with people means that you will have to take the
good with the bad. The patience to deal with all types of customers is vital.
Articulate: Sales reps must be conversational and have the ability
to formulate answers and provide information when asked.
Respectful: The customer might not always be right, but she is always
the customer. Customers must be treated with respect, even in the most challenging
Proactive: It’s never a good idea to wait until a customer is
stressed or agitated before offering assistance. Being one step ahead to gauge
when someone needs help is the best way to minimize a brewing situation.
Positivity: The ability to smile in the face of a long and possibly
chaotic day can make a world of difference to customers.
Empathy: Being able to look at a situation through the eyes of a customer
is an extremely valuable skill that can enable you to provide the highest degree
At the end of the day, it’s all about how a sales associate interacts
with a customer. How that interaction goes will ultimately determine if that
customer will buy and recommend the store to her friends and family, or turn
around and walk out, never to return again.
Discussion Questions: Which retailers, in your experience, do the best
job of acquiring/training associates with the core strengths listed in this
article? Are their any qualities missing or over-emphasized in the list?