This post may make me sound older than I actually am, but do you know what, I am happy with that. I think it shows that perhaps I am a little more mature than I first thought.
Let me set the scene. I am in a large Nationwide optician on a busy Saturday and it is fair to say that the shop was relatively busy with plenty of customers walking around the shop admiring the glasses this store had to offer. Business was looking good. I was not in the shop for me. I was in fact waiting for my partner to have some eye tests conducted and for her to have some lenses fitted. Whilst I was waiting, which was an awfully long time, I had the chance to stand back and observe how the store operated – something that I love to do! What came to my attention was that there was in fact a lot of staff. A lot of staff whom in my eyes were not really doing a lot. Of course, there were the dispensers, opticians and people whom I would class as receptionists, or perhaps greeters. But I do also see several younger members of staff just loitering on the sales floor. I shall call these people ‘Floor Stalkers’.
These inexperienced souls were at times just stood in the same spot for tens of minutes, awaiting for their next customer to look lost and helpless. I could then gather that these Floor Stalkers would swoop on over, pick up the lost customer and guide them through the sales process – quite a nice idea really don’t you think?
My issue came with the greeting that these Floor Stalkers had in their vocabulary. It even happened to me; there I was, patiently awaiting my partner to finish her shopping (an experience I seem to be getting very used to) and as I was trying on every single pair of glasses a Stalker appeared behind me and uttered the words, “Y’alrighttt thereee?”
What does that even mean??
I of course politely explained that I was in fact fine, and not in need of any medical advice. I then went on to listen to this person say this same statement to a further half a dozen customers, and each time the customer explained in exactly the same way; “Yes, I am fine thank you” and the Floor Stalker skulked away into the shadows of the shop floor.
You see, what I hate about this statement is two things. One, it is far too relaxed for my liking. This is the sort of statement you would expect to greet your friends with is it not? Secondly, it does not even mean anything. What is the customer service person trying to gather by asking this? If a customer is in fact ‘Alright’ then how then can the customer service greeter serve them?
This same argument applies to; “Are you ok there?” , “How are you today?” and so on and so foreforth.
I am sure that this Floor Stalker would have been tasked with opening up customers and to point them in the direction of the service that the customer came in for. However instead all she was doing was going around if customers were suitably happy in their current situation. In that situation I would have been a lot more comfortable in training this staff member in asking a more direct question to get to the bottom of the customer’s needs. Such as;
“Good morning! How can I help you today?” Or even, “hello there! Can I be of any help right now”. Yes, I know that the second question is more likely to give you a closed question such as ‘no’ from the customer, however these are a lot more direct and will allow the Floor Stalker the chance to point the customer in the right direction and to help the sales cycle run a lot more smoothly.
So next time you train your staff to greet your customers, think about really what information you want your staff to gather. Sure, if you want your greeter to ensure that your customer is feeling fine and dandy the simple question of “Y’alright there?” could work – but if you want to know what the customer is looking for, do not be afraid to be more direct. Your customer will tell you exactly what he or she wants and will save the pair of you a lot of time and effort.
Coming up in next weeks blog, I am going to discuss why I hate the term ‘mate’ in day to day business.