Create a Welcoming Environment

Have you ever fired a store? Seriously, have you ever walked into an environment only to promptly walk out, swearing you’ll never return? What did that store do (or not do) that put you over the edge?

I’m sure you’ve seen signs that say, “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” Not only is this attitude pretentious and old school, it also assumes that you are the only show in town. Those days are over, friends. But you already know this.

Customers today wear a similar sign, except now it says, “I reserve the right to refuse the services of your store.” Which hearkens back to the question of how to keep folks from refusing your service. The answer is simple—you must remove the obstacles that keep them from staying. How do you do this? By getting involved in their experience.

                                    You can’t afford to be typical!

When does the customer experience start? When they walk in the door? When you engage them? Nope. The customer experience starts before you have a chance to say hello. It starts when they pull into your parking lot, or walk by for the first time. They look inside to see what your staff look like, how old they are, what they are doing. A staff that doesn’t represent your customer might be an unintentional turn-off. Enough so that they decide to come back another day.     

But let’s say they do come in. Their senses flood as they breech your store’s threshold. The temperature is different, their eyes need a second to adjust, the smell of retail is in the air. What happens now determines how long they will stay. Did someone barrage them with greetings before they decompressed? Were they given too much time to assimilate? There’s a fine line between too little and too much attention, and you need to be acutely aware of how to manage the difference. Role play this with your staff to help them sharpen their sensitivity.

The #1 customer complaint in specialty retail is that nobody spoke to them. This lack of common sense is shockingly pervasive in the specialty world. Sort of interesting since you probably claim to be good at making customers feel at home. But you need to check yourself. Rather than ask if you are greeting customers, better to ask how. Let one word be your guiding principle: simplify. An intentional, heartfelt “hello” or “good morning” might be all that’s necessary to begin a deeper connection.

                                                      Beware of the swagger!    

Make sure you are not being overly confident in your approach. If you are dripping with confidence, you’ll run there risk of being seen as cocky and overly ambitious. Harvest an amazing experience by humbling yourself to the needs of the customer. Truly being present in the moment is enough to begin establishing the credibility you’ll need to make a sale.

When customers realize your approach is genuine, they’ll give you permission to work with them. This is the foundation of a landmark experience. One that finds the customer thanking you for helping them spend a bundle of cash. One that makes them a lifelong advocate of your store.

Be real, be a better specialty retailer.

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