The busier a store gets the more important the checkout experience becomes. As a consumer, I've had many a great store experiences ruined in those last few feet. As a retailer, I've lost more than my fair share of customers or created unhappy ones.
Holiday lineology, the art of delivering a great checkout experience during the holiday season, uses most of the same skills and behaviors required to work with customers on the floor. It might be even more challenging because practitioners need to multi-task while delivering a great experience. Just like everything else, success is in the details.
Here are some eight tips to mastering holiday lineology. I encourage you to make this either the topic of a Take Five meeting for your entire team, or at least review this article one-on-one with managers and cashiers between now and Saturday morning.
1. Always give the customer at the register your undivided attention. Those ringing the sale should avoid conversations with co-workers and others. Not only does your customer deserve your undivided attention, side conversations between employees often irritate those waiting in line.
This is why I don't much like cashiers answering the phone when there is a line. If there is no one else available to get the phone they may have to answer it, but I like the cashier with a line to be the last option, not the first.
2. Avoid interrupting any employee who is ringing a sale. This goes for employees interrupting managers, and managers interrupting employees. As a matter of fact, the number of managers/owners who interrupt cashiers when he/she is working with a customer always dismays me.
If you must interrupt, always acknowledge you're doing so by looking at looking at the customer and saying, "Excuse me, but I need to ask _____ a quick question." And make sure it really is a quick question that can be answered in a few words. Just the other day I almost walked out on a sale because the manager interrupted and never even acknowledged me. Talk about rude!
3. No matter how busy you are you have time to greet customers with a smile and to make eye contact. The eye contact is important because it establishes a stronger relationship in the short amount of time you're with the customer.
4. Balance a friendly conversation with the customer while quickly ringing the sale. This is easier said than done. If there is too much small talk people waiting in line get upset, and if you don't engage the customer at all it's not a friendly experience. The key is to keep moving while you talk.
5. Try to acknowledge the next customer in line while ringing up your current customer. That simple acknowledgment will demonstrate that they are your priority and it will be keep them from getting annoyed by you talking with the customer who is payin
6. Don't have the cashier do add-ons at the register. I know this runs counter to the practice of many retailers, but in the last two weeks of the holiday season the additional revenue isn't worth slowing down of the line and potentially losing customers. Have the salespeople do the selling, and let cashiers deliver a great checkout experience.
7. Have a line host or hostess when more than three people are waiting to check out. Whenever there is a line it is vital that someone be responsible to ensure that the customers in line are engaged, entertained, can see they still are a priority, don't leave, and are given the opportunity to purchase additional items. In some stores this is the owner or manager, and in other stores it could be an employee dedicated to this task.
8. Complete the transaction with a WOW. On a busy day this is likely the last experience your customer has with your store. Even though it's incredibly busy, I think cashiers or another staff member should still walk from behind the counter to present customers with their purchase and thank them for shopping with you. If a salesperson isn’t with another customer they can actually walk the customer to the door.
So let me ask, how can you improve your customer experience with holiday lineology? Nothing less will suffice in the next fourteen days!
Doug Fleener, a proven retail and customer experience expert and consultant, helps companies dramatically improve their customer experience and their results. Visit the Dynamic Experiences Group website, or call Doug at 866-535-6331 to discuss how he can help you create extraordinary results.