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Barrier Busters: How To Successfully Engage More Customers

By Expert Author: Doug Fleener

Unless a shopper has already visited your store, there is often a barrier between you and your customer. It's not about you; it's about the customer's perceptions and beliefs based upon a combination of his/her past shopping experiences at other stores.
Some of those experiences are good, some are okay, but a lot more, perhaps most, are with stores who either ignore or stalk their customers. Some require salespeople to engage the customer - except the salesperson adds little, if any, value to the anyone's shopping experience.

That's why most customers usually resist our first attempt at engaging them. They're in a defensive mode. They immediately put up a barrier so they don't have to experience bad service. They don't know what a great store you have, so your goal is to make sure they have the best possible experience.

That's why it's essential to take certain actions that bust those barriers and demonstrate to your customer the value you add. Here are some of biggest barrier busters you can execute in a specialty store:

1.Warmly welcome your customer with a smile. This is a huge barrier buster. It demonstrates to each customer that he/she is the staff's priority, the staff is happy to see each customer, and that the staff enjoys working at the store. That last point is key. Who enjoys a party when the host or hostess isn't having fun? By the way, if you can’t feel a smile there isn’t one showing.

2. Get out from behind the counter. Counters are not only physical barriers, they're personal barriers to connecting with your customer. Even a store that keeps most products in glass cases should attempt to engage customers before going behind the counter to start showing product.

3. Avoid using retail cliches. I know I'm relentless on this, but it's because when customers are asked over and over "How may I help you" or "Do you have any questions?" barriers actually become even higher. Not a good thing.

4. Acknowledge and move past the first barrier. Most customers blurt out "I'm just looking" without even thinking it. Don't take it personally. It's just the natural barrier built after shopping at all of the other stores that don't do what you do. When you hit that first barrier, just acknowledge it with "Well, this is a great store to look in" or "Great, because you're going to find some wonderful things."

Then tell the customer you will check back on them in a little bit. This gives the customer some space to take in the store, and gives you permission to reengage them in a few minutes. Then reengage them without using a retail cliche. This is not being pushy, this is adding value to the experience.

If it's clear they want to experience the store alone, by all means let them. Your customer is better served with your help, but it's his/her choice if and when that happens. It's our job to make sure they know the value we add, and we have to get past the first barrier to do that.

5. Make it personal. Exchanging names with the customer is challenging for many people, but the payoff can be big when you're removing any remaining barriers. I know a lot of people think this is being pushy, and it is if you're only doing it because you're told to do it, but it can make all the difference when your goal is to deliver the best possible experience.

Dynamic Experiences Group, LLC, a customer experience and retail consulting company, helps retailers of all sizes to improve their customer experience and increase their sales and profits. We offer services in retail advice. We assess the current approach of your business and then recommend a solution based upon your organizational needs and opportunities. Visit: http://www.dynamicexperiencesgroup.com

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