Thursday, December 24, 2009

The #1 Conversation Killer in Retail

I was asked the single worst question in all of retail multiple times today. Before I share my story, let me set the stage… Today is Christmas Eve, and I have just completed my last round of holiday shopping. It’s been over 5 years since I left the retail industry… but 20 years of front-line retail management experience still flows thru my veins.

“Do you need any help?” That was the first question asked of me at each of my shopping stops today. Not “Happy Holidays!”… not “WELCOME, how can I help find your perfect gift?”… just the typical “Do you need any help?”

What a waste! It amazes me that organizations and managers still allow variations of that #1 Conversation Killer to be used in their stores 99% of the time. When you are asked that question, what do you answer? Most people say, “No, I’m just looking”… The interaction is finished… Game over! Retail associates should be required to treat their customers like friends or family… having conversations and helping them the best way possible. As the self-service & online retail tidal waves continue to build, time is running out for businesses to learn how to create true relationships with their customers.

Hint: The answer is NOT to kill conversations before they even start.