December 21, 2012

I was headed out to the Apple Store last weekend to buy a new iPhone 5 when I heard a big box electronics retailer was offering $50 off on all smartphones.   I decided to change course.  Big mistake.


Unfortunately, a deceptively long line combined with rude customer service reps left me vowing to never shop there again.


I won’t bore you with all the details, but I will share with you some of what our work – and personal experience – has taught us about how NOT to treat your customers.



Basically, don’t be rude.  But also keep in mind that just directing a customer to a line can sound dismissive and condescending.  No one likes to wait, but I will appreciate if you let me know you sympathize and give me an estimate of how long it will be, especially if the line appears shorter than it really is.



Not surprisingly, turning customers away isn’t a great business decision.  When a customer walks into your store, you should do whatever you can to help them.  If you can’t pull more resources to shorten the line and a customer isn’t interested in waiting, point them to specific, alternative options.



No matter how dumb a customer might seem, don’t belittle them to a fellow employee or another customer.  It just looks bad.  In fact, never let a customer hear you talking about another customer.



Don’t shoo the customer away while he or she is packing up, even if there’s a line of people waiting.  It may sound cliché, but if everyone else says “thank you” and you don’t, the message you’re sending to customers is “we don’t appreciate your business.”


The bottom line: with stores more crowded than ever holiday season, consumers can choose to make their purchases at any number of retailers.  You can have a winning marketing campaign and great prices… but if your employee’s don’t communicate in a way that demonstrates they value your customers, you better believe they’ll take their business elsewhere.






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