Customers will have a number of reasons why they shop or step in a retail store. Most will want to buy an item or two and some are just looking. For those who will buy, not all of them are set on what they want. Remember that some customers don’t know what they want and some think they know what they want. For those who are just looking will either leave your store empty handed or end up buying something. Regardless of the situation, how your business and employees manage each customer situation can results to a sale and happy customer or just the opposite.
On an emotional level, some customers go shopping to feel good and try to relieve life’s stress. They shop expecting that they will always have a positive experience especially if they’ll be able to buy something they really like and hope that this positive experience will somewhat lessen the stress or completely forget they were even stressed in the first place.
Each shopping experience is different and can be a positive experience or a stressful one. It can either be a “feel good” moment or a dreaded one. Depending on the time of day and of the year, especially during the holiday season and Black Friday, the level of stress levels up.
Below are some of the common customer pet peeves that usually cause shopping to be stressful.
a. Long Lines – No one wants waiting in line. When it comes to shopping, customers usually wait in line when they checkout and/or when they need to use the fitting room. Customers do understand this can be expected at times, but you also have to understand that not all customers are that patient particularly for those who are in a hurry.
b. Disorganized Merchandise – Some customers just don’t have the tolerance to dig up on cluttered merchandise. The same goes if your racks are not properly lined up according to the type and brand of merchandise.
c. Options – Too many and too little. This can go both ways. Having too many options to select from can be an inconvenience and causes customers to get more confused on what to buy especially for customers who are still to decide what they want. Having too little to choose from does not do your business any good. Though looking at the 2 situations, the former has “lesser evil” and easier to address.
d. Out of Stock – Let’s say for a few months already, you’ve been waiting for a particular shoe brand’s new model to be released to the market. And now that it is, you excitedly and anxiously go to a retail store to buy a pair. However, when you get to the store, you’re told that they’re out of stock. That supposed sale will go to a competitor.
e. Crowded Store – A crowded store doesn’t necessarily mean business is good. A customer can immediately step out of your store as soon as he/she steps in and sees a huge crowd inside. Crowd control also applies to retails stores.
f. Store Personnel Engagement
- Hello and Good Bye – There’s no better way to set the right shopping mood to your customers than a warm, sincere, genuine greeting and smile. And there’s no better way to instill a good last impression to your customers than thanking them, bidding them a good day, and asking them to come back. The lack of these negatively impacts that first and last impression of your customers towards your brand.
- Slacking Off – Every retail store should have busy employees and slacking off is non-negotiable. Busy in a sense that they are efficient in assisting a customer and being available for another as soon as possible. Customers do not want to see employees with no sense of urgency, ignoring customers, chatting with colleagues, texting or talking on the phone, etc. when it’s very clear that there are customers who need assistance.
- Avoiding to Assist – Employees are smart on how they can avoid assisting customers. Aside from pretending that they are busy on something or someone, they will point the customer to another employee for assistance, point to a general location where the customer may find the item, or just give the customer information. They will do this rather than directly assisting customers.
- Following Customers – Not all customers are shoplifters and it’s easy to make customers feel that you think of them as such by following him/her wherever he/she goes in the store. This makes customers feel so uncomfortable and will likely make them leave the store instead or make a negative remark towards the employee. Instead of following customers, initially offer assistance and if the customer needs help right there and then, he/she will tell you. If not, then let them be and give them their space and time. Just inform the customer to get your attention in case your assistance is needed.
- Starring at Customers – Just like following customers, starring at them will result to the same negative feeling and experience. You may be just being watchful, but you don’t have to stare to be vigilant.
- Demeanor – Friendly, Respectful, Patient, Understanding, Empathizes, Listens. The list can go on and on, but bottom line is: Treat each customer right.
- Knowledge – No customer should be more knowledgeable than an employee. How can someone sell something that he/she doesn’t know much about? Customers are supposed to trust your employees as “experts” of the merchandise that you sell and not the other way around. Lose this trust and you lose the opportunity to recommend and upsell other merchandise.
- Or lack of engagement – Very simple: No engagement may mean no sale.
g. 5 Senses – The dominant senses used in shopping in a retail store are the sense of sight, smell, and hearing. Our senses affect our emotions; our emotions influence our behavior; our behavior directs how we shop.
- Sight – Clean as you go. No one wants to shop in a dirty or unkept store. A dirty store can mean dirty merchandise to customers. For some retailers, this serves true.
- Smell – Compared to the sense of sight and hearing, what you smell can outweigh what you perceive through your eyes and ears. You will not stay long in a store that has a rancid odor. Smell therapy also works in retail stores.
- Hearing – Noise will always give you an unpleasant experience. If you think there’s nothing you can do to control the noise created by your customers and even employees, think again. There are certain types of music or sound that can influence people’s mood which affects their behavior.
There are a number of ways to properly address each customer pet peeve to ensure that their shopping experience doesn’t get stressful, but each pet peeve has to be handled accordingly. By knowing more on what stresses them and what they think should be done, you can increase the likelihood that your solutions will be effective. Remember that the less stress your customers experience, the less stress it is for your employees and your business.