When customers are busy, pushed for time and having to battle it out with all the other Christmas shoppers, it’s no surprise that their shopping behaviour changes.
In most cases customers are less resistant over the Christmas period, which is great for salespeople because they don’t have to work as hard to break the ice. Shoppers are more likely to be honest about what they’re looking for and more likely to make a quick decision.
At the same time, during the Christmas rush, shoppers just want to get in and get out as quick as they can. They’re I’m more likely to get frustrated with long queues, inefficient processing and inattentive team members.
So it’s important for retailers to be aware of how they can change the way they look after customers to keep the Yule Tide stress-less. Follow these five key steps from our retail sales training to help you and your retail team keep their sanity during Christmas trade.
Upskill your team on opening lines
To make your opening lines successful think of these three Do’s and one Don’t
Do make sure your team are using opening lines that have nothing to do with business, so don’t talk about products, even if they’re looking at something!
Do use open ended to encourage the customer to talk. Use questions to get a conversation going.
Do make your opening lines different, unique and tailor them to each different customer. Use current events, the weather, a conversation piece
Don’t use, “Can I help you”. It doesn‘t work. It’s always followed by, “No thanks, I’m just looking”. Change your question to “how can I help you?” and you have a nice open question that will get customers to open up and chat about what they came in for.
Appropriateness is intimately tied to the brand of your business and the experience that you’re trying to give your customer. Have a think about the types of greetings that your customers expect. Are they more formal or more casual?
Make a loss prevention plan
Be aware that in very busy times some customers will take advantage of the fact that your attention will be elsewhere, and there will be more of an opportunity for them to steal stock.
You need to think about what you need to change when your foot traffic goes up so that you can cover your floor from a security point of view, as well as give as many customers as possible great service and a good experience.
You may need to consider stationing team members in areas of the store and on the tills to ensure that things run smoothly, but also consider adding a greeter to the front of your store. An acknowledged customer knows they’ve been seen and is less likely to steal.
Unused staff – Use it or lose it
Think about where your staff are positioned during a shift – place them where they can be of most value to your customers. For example; if you have staff who can’t assist at the Point of Sale, then consider positioning them away from your counter to prevent any unwanted frustration.
When your branch is busy, or a customer needs some help, their number one frustration is seeing a team member, who, in their eyes looks like they’re available to help, but doesn’t!
As a customer, I don’t know what role you have, or what you’re supposed to be doing, but If you’re wearing a uniform, and are visible to me, then I would expect you to make an effort to serve me, especially if it’s busy!
There are too many instances where customers wait in queues or require help with a product and team members just walk past and ignore them. Which quite often results in a lost sales, or worse, as lost customer.
Customers should always come first! if you’re out in front of customers, you must be willing to help me yourself or find someone else who can!
Have a strategy for managing queues
We all dislike queues, but we like it even less when they aren’t moving. Being really efficient and making sure your team know how to deal with most situations will keep things moving.
It’s also good if your team have an easy way of escalating anything more difficult, so they’re able to keep processing other customer’s sales without too much hold-up.
It’s a good idea to have some sort of system to get another counter open when you’re busy. Do you ring a bell? Do you have a person who specifically looks out for queues and will organise another staff member?
Customers are tolerant when all staff are engaged with customers and are busy. However when you’re doing tasks, or worse still-not doing anything, and they’re waiting for service, they get cranky! When a customer is standing in a queue, this is where they have the most time to look around and spot any team members who look like they have nothing to do, so keep ‘em moving!
Cut the fluff and be efficient
Customers are looking for an efficient and quick end to their transaction, particularly if they’ve still got more Christmas shopping to do. Once they’ve decided what to buy, they’re ready to go and any delay has an impact on their time.
At high-stress times of year, customers can quickly become impatient and intolerant if they have to wait or the team members at the point-of-sale seem inefficient.
Processing a sale must be professional and friendly and leave me with the right feeling. Make sure your team keep these two key points in mind:
- Be efficient and personal
- Smile and make eye contact
Your team need to be quick when they’re processing a sale, but they also need to be thorough. Prep your team with key questions to ask customers to ensure they have everything they need.
Pro tip - Teach your team about no-brainers
Christmas is the perfect time to ask about no-brainers, because customers often don’t have time to think of them themselves. Do they need wrapping paper? If they’re buying wrapping paper, do they have tape or gift labels? Small things like this are quick to add, but can mean the difference between being home with family or having to make another stressful trip to the shops.
Train your team
We love to give you plenty of tips, but to get the most out of the Christmas season you'll need to do more than give refreshers. Often training for the peak trade period is thought about much too late, when things are already starting to get busy with Black Friday preparations. In reality, your strategy for the peak period should include a customised retail sales training programme that you run year-round to upskill your team. As November approaches, it's worth thinking about launching a specific programme for peak trade that you can also use with your casual staff.