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Eliminating the Sound of Silence

Great Things to Say to a Customer

Last month, we took a shopping excursion to see what store employees were saying to customers. All of the remarks we mentioned had a negative aspect to them as employees were "talking" to the customer instead of communicating with them, or were demonstrating they had been "trained" by management as compared to being educated in serving the customer.

We also promised with this month's column to highlight the ten sharpest salespeople we observed. These were the people who wanted our business. With some, it was simply the individual who enjoyed being a part of retail. While with others, it was an atmosphere which you could sense throughout the store.

As with last month's collected remarks, these comments are put into groups, but we want to make sure it is understood these are not the only expressions which can be given. These are to be enjoyed, and hopefully, shared and duplicated with your fellow employees.

"I want your business". Isn't that statement true? Whether the sales person is on commission, or simply recognizes it is the customer, not the boss, who really writes the paycheck, they need the customer in order to receive their income. While watching the person making this remark to a customer, you could see a look of sincerity and interest. The customer made the purchase, including the suggested add on sale.

As another example of good service, we found an old expression which sounded so refreshingly new. Perhaps it also was the tone of voice, the way the salesperson looked at the customer, or the way they used their hands and stood before the customer. "How, may I help you?" And, followed by a long pause leaving all the time necessary for the customer to respond. This was followed, by listening, appropriate head nods, "yes", "no", and "I understand".

Even though it was not vocalized on this occasion, you knew the sales person had expressed to the customer, "You have my undivided attention. Please tell me more".

There are two related expressions which are sure to bring a smile to a customer. While they have a cost, they pay a tremendous dividend. "Let me get you a free sample of that product. I would value your opinion." And a second statement of, "Of course, there is no charge for this."

Take a brief pause halfway through our list, and think how infrequent we get to hear these types of comments. And if you have placed yourself in the position of a customer as you review these expressions, you probably had a smile spread across your face, and a thought of, "Yeah, it would be nice to experience that."

Of course, no business is without an occasional problem in which a customer returns an item or a complaint. If you remember last month's column, there were numerous expressions which too many customers had heard too many times. But, these statements, "I will take care of it right now before you leave the store", or "I sincerely want to make you happy and continue to earn your business" can give customer service a new definition. This type of resolution to a customer's problem will go a long way towards having the customer tell many other potential customers about your business in a very positive manner.

Can we make every customer happy? Absolutely not! This writer has been in retail for too many years, knowing that occasionally there is a customer who absolutely refuses to be satisfied. But for the more than 99 percent of our customers, these expressions are as fresh and welcome as a cool sea breeze.

At the conclusion of the sale, there were several retailers who really did let their customers know how much their business was appreciated. The first was the dealer who sold a product which had an instruction manual, but the product was one from experience, in which customers often needed to return to the business to ask additional questions.

"I have written my home phone number on the back of our business card. Call me if you have any questions." Another way of expressing this is to say, "If you will give me your phone number, I will call you tonight to see that you have assembled it correctly." Think this customer is going to go shopping at another store? Doubtful!

This writer's Father used an expression of, "A dog with a full food bowl, will never go looking for another food bowl." (Translation: Satisfied customers continue to return). It applies throughout the retail industry.

"Can I carry that to the car for you?" This statement does not always apply, but it is a statement which should not be reserved for only a few grocery stores.

"Thank you", can be given in several ways; the usual with eyes looking away from the customer and a hand extended holding a crumpled receipt and the change (not counted out) from the purchase.

A second way, with the same hand extended, open handed to shake hands, direct eye contact and, "Thanks. We really do appreciate your business." If you think about it, you would probably come back to the store just to have the experience duplicated.

We have covered ten expressions, too rarely heard, given by sales people who provide definition to the word professional. However, there is one more we observed. A salesperson on the telephone telling the customer, "I haven't seen you in the store recently, and I just called to say hello." Wow! How powerful, and this statement has been shown to bring into the store within two weeks, about 16% of those customers called.

There were eleven expressions for a reason; because we should always give a customer more than they expect.

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This article is copyrighted by Tom Shay and Profits Plus Solutions, who can be reached at: PO Box 1577, St. Petersburg, Fl. 33731. Phone 727-464-2182. It may be printed for an individual to read, but not duplicated or distributed without expressed written consent of the copyright owner.

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