Keith, one of the first managers I worked for, used to stop and talk to customers as they were leaving the store. I couldn't figure out why, since one of the sales associates had worked with the customer. Then I realized he was checking up on us. Making sure we were doing our job.
The more I thought about his not trusting us, the more annoyed I got. Finally, I decided to say something to him. I can't remember exactly what I asked, but was along the lines of, "Why do you stop and question our customers? You obviously don't trust us." (You can tell I've never been one to mince words.)
His answer surprised me. He said that he wasn't questioning but confirming with the customer that his staff did a great job. At first I didn't understand the difference, but after listening to him I realized it was a huge difference.
Keith would stop customers and say things like, "I'm sure Doug took great care of you." or "I trust Doug helped you find everything you were looking for." Not surprising, almost every customer praised the help they had gotten, and that reinforced the whole experience for the customer. What a smart guy that Keith was!
I noticed after changing stores that most managers I worked for either didn't ever talk to customers on the way out, or if they did, they inadvertently undermined the staff.
One manager would ask, "Did you find everything okay?" Well, that would be fine if nobody had helped that customer, but she would ask after an associate had spent forty-minutes with the person. Not good.
The other one I also hear is, "Did <insert employee name> take good care of you?" While the manager has the right intent, that phrasing can sound to some people like the manager is questioning if the employee is doing her/his job.
I'm a big proponent of managers engaging the staff's customers. It makes the customer feel special, and helps a managers know her business that much better. Just remember, there's a subtle - but big - difference between a question and a confirmation.
So let me ask, do you talk with your staff’s customers? If not, you should. If you do, be sure you’re confirming and not questioning about the staff’s performance.
And apropos of nothing….
- Consider this: It's what a staff does during the downtime that determines how successful they are during the peak times.
- Are you watching the new show Superstore? Pretty funny, and fairly accurate. Loved the episode about the mystery shopper. Classic.
- In 2002 I started consulting on the customer experience. It's nothing new. The cost to not doing it well is just a lot higher than it use to be. How's your service experience?
The EveryDay Coach and Leader. A four-week program for seasoned managers to become even better coaches. Starts February 2nd. Details here.
Beyond the Add-on. Increase sales immediately with this five-module, online training program that can be completed on smartphones, tablets, and/or computers by every member of your retail staff. Just $149 for a staff of 8. Details here.
About Doug Fleener
Doug Fleener, a proven business and customer service experience expert and speaker/consultant, helps companies achieve performance that exceeds customer and employee expectations resulting in more sales, profits, and customers.
Learn more about our services at Sixth Star Consulting, or call Doug at 866-535-6331 to discuss how he can help you achieve higher levels of performance and results. Learn about Doug's keynotes and workshops at DougFleener.com.