2017 is going down as the year retailers are going bankrupt. Toys R Us, Abercrombie & Fitch, American Apparel, RadioShack, Payless, and hhgregg are just a few of the names going under. The retail bloodbath is going to continue. It doesn’t necessarily need to continue, but it will because these businesses refuse to learn to sell. Here are 5 typical ways retailers everywhere are losing easy sales:
The salesperson is rude or condescending—42% of customers will go elsewhere over a rude staff. I’m not just talking about salespeople, everyone in an organization has the potential to have contact with customers and be rude and condescending. Someone comes to the showroom and people don’t even tell him hi.
If you come to my office in Miami my staff will greet you. If any of my staff didn’t greet you they’d be fired on the spot. Can you imagine going to a party, walking in and nobody even acknowledges that you’re there? That would be rude. A lot of people don’t realize they are condescending—maybe because there’s no awareness of your obligation to provide customer service.
You know what condescending is, right?
“Sir, the number is on the website”
“It says it right there in the contract”
“Did you download it? It’s right there”
“The warranty is in your glove box”
Really you’re just saying “You’re stupid”. You can’t afford to lose customers over rudeness and condescending attitudes. Rude and condescending communication should never be allowed. Have zero tolerance for it. Have also a commitment for no negativity in the office. Your culture should have no negativity, no gossip, and no criticizing of customers.
Where there is no demand, there is no value. When customers want something from you, there is a way to exchange value with them. Complaints and problems are opportunities. If the customer is ridiculous, even impossible, still try and make it happen. That’s when you start becoming positive and empathetic. You start saying things like “I understand”, “I’m with you”, “I agree”, “You deserve it”, and “I want to solve that for you”. Commit first and handle it later!
Your solution is useless—When someone reaches out to you to solve their problem, your job is to solve their problem. You either solve the problem or you don’t solve the problem. 82% of customers said that the #1 factor to great customer service is solving problems quickly. 50% of dissatisfied customers will tell 10+people about their experience. You don’t tell people about the times they do great work for you, you usually just tell people about that one bad experience, right?
I once had a dentist in LA that always did a good job, was friendly, and got the job done. I went in to fix a tooth that was cracked and the next day I ate a gummy bear or something and part of the tooth fell out. I was in the process of moving to Miami so I called her about it and she said the next time I’m in LA come to her. I didn’t make it back to LA for 3 years. She didn’t solve the problem or even make an effort to solve it. Although she was a good dentist and did good work, she disconnected from the problem. She didn’t solve that last problem for me, so in my mind, she isn’t on that unbelievable, great, super satisfaction list. You have to help solve problems!
The customer is ignored—Look for the critical customer touch points to make sure that you are not ignoring your customer. As a policy, every customer should be greeted, acknowledged, and addressed immediately upon arriving, calling, or emailing your business. At a big department store, you can often walk through 10 different departments without anybody talking to you—probably with nobody even looking at you. Make it a priority to have a greeter to be sure to acknowledge everyone who walks through your doors. Direct them early on!
Can’t speak with a supervisor—First off, a customer should never have to ask to speak to a supervisor. The supervisor should intervene before there is ever a problem. It’s called being proactive, not reactive. It’s called before the problem, not after the divorce. You see, a lawyer gets involved at that point. You don’t want to act as a lawyer. Someone that really cares about a relationship will intervene earlier.
Warren Buffett said, “if you got a problem tell me about it quick”. If a customer calls in at 4:30 with a problem and I call back at 4:31, that tells them I’m serving them and willing to confront the problem. If I wait a few days, what does that communicate? I had an email on a Sunday with a client telling me about a proposal he had been waiting on for 2 months, and he said, “Come on guys!”
I didn’t wait until Monday morning to reply, I replied seconds later, on a Sunday afternoon, that the problem would be handled first thing Monday morning. Take the heat out of the fire by reducing time. Have management, executives, or a supervisor intervene when there’s a problem beyond the control of an agent.
The salesperson is too pushy—Most people are not pushy enough, trust me. Most companies don’t greet, don’t write, ignore customers, and don’t follow up. Most never get in the realm of being too pushy. Only an unskilled salesperson would come across as pushy. True professionals, highly interested, heavily trained people who are enthusiastic will not appear to be pushy. Roleplaying, handling customer issues, and pivoting into a sales process is what your team should be doing.
The bottom line is that too many retailers are making too many simple mistakes to deserve to stay in business. There’s a fine line between profit and just breaking even or losing money. You need every sale you can get, so don’t be making stupid sales mistakes—or your small business will follow Toys R Us and the others into bankruptcy.
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