How to Avoid The “Can I Help You?” Trap

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How to Avoid The “Can I Help You?” Trap

It can be the most frustrating thing in the world for a dedicated sales person to spend his or her day asking “Can I help you?” and being turned down flat 9 out of 10 times. Face it, as small store owners, we’ve all been there: watching the customer, head down and avoiding eye contact, shuffle off to the far reaches of the store in hopes of avoiding that pesky sales person. Here’s how to avoid that scene and just possibly snag a sale from a relaxed customer who may have otherwise headed out the door.

customerstopDon’t Accost Them At The Door – As noted in our last blog post, most customers pause for a few seconds, scan the store and get their bearings before heading off to make product selections. Always make sure to let the incoming customers have this time without any intervention from store employees. Even saying “Hi, welcome to the store” too quickly can seem like you are rushing them. A good rule of thumb to use is to wait 10-15 seconds for that first greeting.

Keep it Real – Store employees should always be busy doing something, right? A sales person who swoops down on a customer and appears to be there only for that purpose can alienate a customer quickly. Greeting customers casually while at the same time appearing busy will give the customer a much more relaxed feeling. Even if it is a slow afternoon, pick up a paint can, a package of drop-cloths, anything to make it look like you are busy with a task.

Don’t Ask – The ubiquitous “Hi, can I help you?” will almost always be met with the equally ubiquitous “No thanks, just looking.” as the customer heads off into never-never land. A better approach is to wait 10-15 seconds and then greet the customer with a casual “Hi, welcome to XYZ Paints! Take a look around and salespersoncustomerI’ll be back shortly!” while walking away from the customer. Don’t block their path or cause them to have to stop by walking directly toward them. This type of greeting will most likely not generate a negative response, but will usually cause the customer to respond with “Ok, thanks!” as they go on to do their shopping. After disappearing for a minute or so, the employee should re-appear and be available to answer questions or help the customer as needed. This approach will give the customer the feeling of being taken care of without feeling preyed-upon.

Helping customers to feel comfortable and relaxed while also letting them know you are there for whatever they need is a skill that all store owners should make sure their employees have. Giving the customer a moment to settle in and begin their shopping without intervention may seem counter-intuitive, but if you give it a try, you will be surprised how well it works.

Always be prepared to handle customer service situations professionally! PDRA’s Customer Service Specialist course was created with paint & decorating stores in mind. Once this PDRA exclusive course is completed your employees will be able to interact with your customers for the best possible outcome – satisfied, repeat customers!