Wednesday, 13 April 2011
03:07 | Posted by ATC
I was in one of the big supermarkets yesterday and couldn’t find the product I was looking for, so I stopped one of the sales assistants to ask for help. I was surprised by the assistant’s response as she looked panicked and said she had no idea where the product would be and told me to ask someone else. I then approached another assistant and got the same response! Finally with assistant number three, I was taken to the correct aisle and he found the product for me.
Maybe these two sales assistants were new to the job or maybe they were both having a bad day, but either way, they weren’t providing very good customer service. This got me wondering about how much training staff in this store were receiving.
I worked part-time in a few different High Street stores when I was at university and I remember that we received the most basic training, but I believe that I still offered good service to the customers who came into the shop because I used my common sense. However, retailers can’t simply rely on all staff using common sense and understanding how customers should be treated. Sales assistants need to understand how to communicate effectively with their customers and it is up to retailers to provide this training.
7 essential communication tips for retail staff dealing with customers:
- Language – the vocabulary that you use can totally change the message that is being given to the customer. Make sure that language used is appropriate for the target market e.g. the teenage market might be happy with slang, but will the rest of your customers?
- Grading – If customers don't understand what you are saying, don't just keep repeating the same thing more loudly and slowly! Maybe the customer doesn't understand because he/she is from another country, has literacy problems, or maybe you are just using the wrong vocabulary. Grade your language – if the customer doesn’t understand what you are saying, find another way of saying it.
- Intonation & Tone – the intonation and tone you use can change the meaning of your message. Something that is meant to be a simple instruction can sound rude or aggressive if said in the wrong way.
- Body Language – you may be saying one thing, but your body language could be saying something else. Looking bored/uninterested or panicked doesn’t give the right impression to customers. Dealing with customers in a confident manner will make you appear more professional.
- Eye Contact – make eye contact with customers when you are talking to them. This will make you appear interested in what they are saying and make you more approachable and friendly.
- Smile – nobody wants to be served by a shop assistant who looks like he/she wants to be anywhere else but in the shop. Customers want to feel welcome when they enter the store and feel that they can approach you.
- Find someone who can – if you really can’t help the customer then find someone who can. Either direct the customer to the correct person/counter or take them there yourself – don’t just say you don’t know and walk away!