I know that I personally have had more than one good store experience ruined in those last ten feet. I've also had many a mediocre store experiences turned around by a terrific cashier.
Lineology, the art of delivering a great checkout experience, 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.
Here are some tips for mastering Lineology:
1. Always give your customer your undivided attention. Any conversations with co-workers and others should wait until you have completed ringing up a sale. The checkout process should be fast and efficient but at the same time must never make the customer feel rushed.
2. Never interrupt another employee who is checking out a customer. The number of managers who interrupt the cashier when he/she is working with a customer always dismays me. Unless it's an emergency it can wait.
3. Always greet your customer in a friendly manner including a smile and 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. Avoid overused questions like "How are you today?" That is the "How may I help you" of checkouts. Try to keep it more personal or about what the customer is purchasing. "Are you enjoying this beautiful day?" or "Isn't that the cutest blouse?"
5. Try to acknowledge the next customer in line while ringing up your current one. That simple acknowledgment will demonstrate to the customer that they are your priority and it will be keep them from getting annoyed by you talking with another customer.
6. Really hear what the customer is saying. A lot of customers indirectly voice pleasure or displeasure, and your ability to recognize and respond to what someone is saying without maybe quite saying can make a big difference to that customer's experience.
Example: A customer might say, "The store is so busy it's difficult to get a dressing room." Many employees would either not respond at all or agree with the customer's statement. The master of Lineology will respond by saying, "Is there something you would like to try on? I can set these aside and get someone to assist you."
7. Know that some of your hardest tasks are vital to your store's success. Every time you capture a customer's contact information you're creating future sales. Take pride in your ability to capture that information.
The same goes for doing required add-ons. If your owner or manager has asked you to suggest an additional product, do it to the best of your ability. Remember that almost everyone will say "no," the "no" is not personal, and enjoy those moments when the customer says "yes." By the way, I'm not a huge fan of those types of add-ons, but to each their own.
8. At the end of each transaction look your customer in the eye and say "thank you." That brief moment of demonstrating your gratitude will stay with the customer beyond their time in your store. You may also, if appropriate, want to invite the customer back.
If you're a cashier, or you occasionally checkout a customer, never underestimate how important you are to the success of the store. Thank you for being a Master of Lineology!