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13 Things Your Retail Store Customers Won't Tell You

By: Richard L Gordon

Take a look at these 13 feelings, sentiments or impressions and adjust where you can, to put your store in a better position to benefit.

1. I don't get the same attention when you're not here! Some customers may tell you this, but how long did it take them to tell you and at what cost? If your people are not greeting customers and getting off their duffs and treating customers like you want, you need to be finding out about it. Send in some friends or relatives to report back to your or install a couple of video cameras that can be monitored by your notebook computer regardless of where you are. You cannot afford this to happen--period!

2. I'm shopping today because I'm bored, or lonely. Have you ever walked through a store with no interest or intention of buying a thing? We all do. Your job is to impress them enough through the personalities of your staff and the atmosphere of your store to make them think of your store first, when they are ready to buy.

3. I wish you carried ______. You really need to get out front and talk to customers whenever possible. Ask them some questions about what they like and what they're not finding. Consider a survey. Remember, your job is to find out what your customers want and what touches them emotionally and then give it to them. You're not there to support your favorite product line or merchandise.

4. I like your competition better! I would want to know whenever someone felt this way. If someone else is offering a more exciting customer experience or a more exciting merchandise assortment, I would want to know who and how. The customer experience is everything. Again, quiz your customers. Get out there and take some field trips to the competition once in a while with your people. Ask them to take notes of what they like and what they think your store needs to improve or change.

5. Your bathroom is disgusting! Whether you have a public bathroom or not, it will be used at some point in time by someone when you least expect it. Chances are your staff has let someone use it, in spite of your rules, and chances are they won't say anything regarding their disappointing observation because they were just glad you had one or you let them use it. Remember, bathrooms are a part of offering your customers an important comfort when needed, and people make judgments about what you're really about, in terms of class, cleanliness, organization etc. by what they find "under the hood" so to speak! Surprise them in a pleasant way!

6. I can't afford to buy this. Considering where is today, there really are a lot of customers who don't have the discretionary income to spend on much of anything, much less luxuries. Yet they still buy things they really can't afford. Your job is to create the excitement that effects the emotions that go with buying things we all don't really need, but may still want. Create the excitement and put a smile on their face. Just don't pressure them to make them feel embarrassed they can't afford something. Most people will lie before they will tell you they can't handle the purchase financially.

7. I'm hot, I'm cold. I'm thirsty, I need a bathroom, I feel cramped or crowded. I need to sit down... The goal is to make your store a place that customers love to spend time. After all, the more time they spend, the more likely they are to spend. Work towards offering all your customers comforts, they can't get at your competitors. They will remember on average and over the long term.

8. I've been by here a time or two, but you weren't open. Are you open when your customers need you to be? Are your people opening and closing your store at the posted hours or are they closing down or turning lights out early, or possibly showing up late. This is another place to consider a survey question about your opening and closing hours.

9. This store is a bit boring! Or, this store is becoming less interesting all the time! Are you losing your relevance to your target customer, or is your target customer finding something more finely in tune with their wants and needs elsewhere? Remember that you can't please everyone, but you can zero in on pleasing your target customer with a well-defined and focused niche. Don't become too broad in your appeal or you will not end up impressing anyone. When you offer a more broad assortment than any competitors, you end up having less of a choice in any specific niche or target category than you need to appeal to a given target group. You may also want to ask yourself when the last time you updated your fixtures, your flooring or the color of your walls. It all as an effect!

10. I am planning on buying this online, after I look at it or learn about it in your store. There are really only a couple of things we can do about this. One is to put them in the state of excitement and the emotional mood to get it now and put it in their hands now...right this minute. The other is to constantly working on building the emotional connection with our customers to where they feel they are buying and supporting a friend. If you can't do these things, you may end up being used as a showroom more often than necessary!

11. I don't understand this item or know exactly what it does? Don't allow customers to walk out wondering or make them feel a bit ignorant by making them ask an uncomfortable question. You should be paying enough attention to your customers that you can observe when they might seem puzzled or confused. Walk up and make a comment about the product, such as, "have you seen these before, they ______!"

12. I'm not very friendly and I'm easily disappointed about something because something is really screwed up in my life, or I'm having a bad day! Maybe, I just don't feel well. We all have times when we may take things out on someone else. You want to become like a reliable old friend to your customers. A little understanding and empathy goes a long way, regardless of what's wrong. Make things right whenever possible and do it with zero resistance, especially when you know you aren't really at fault. When things go wrong, you have your absolute best chance to set your store apart from everyone else in how well you take care of things. Surprise them and give them a chance to be spreading the word at what you did for them!

13. You guys are great! Yes, we generally only hear from customers when they're unhappy, but that's what helps keep us on our toes, isn't it? I can't tell you how many times I've heard a shop owner who was going out of business, tell me that a number of customers came forward and expressed their disappointment or sadness at the demise of a business. Yes there are positive things you don't hear from customers too! You may not hear about how nice an employee was or you may not hear about how much someone was touched by a conversation you had with them one day. Just remember that when customers are shopping in your store regularly, and enjoying themselves, they really do appreciate what you do and how much you mean to them, even if you don't hear from them.

2011 Retail Redefined and

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