4 Steps to Managing the Retail Grinch

By Tanya Floer Dec 17, 2018
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The customer is always right!...

...Except for when they’re not, but that’s a moot point when it comes to your customer service. With the holidays upon us, and an influx of new and returning customers in your store, delivering an exceptional customer experience is as important as ever but may not be as easy as it sounds!

Customers are in a mad dash to finish their last-minute holiday shopping and, with the countdown on, not everyone is guaranteed to be in a holly jolly spirit this season. Then transitioning into the post-holiday errands of returns and exchanges your sales reps are likely to encounter a variety of difficult customers over the next few months. 

So, whether it’s ‘Angry Allan’, ‘Talkative Terry’, or ‘Indecisive Ian’, how well your staff are able to deal with these situations will set you apart from the rest. Don’t let the negative energy in. Use these tips to help you navigate the holiday Grinch professionally, and spread some joy instead.

Be Patient

With most difficult customers, no matter their dilemma, patience is key. Being patient with customers will allow you to carry out the rest of these tips with ease.

So, whether you’re dealing with Ian who is worried about making the right decision, isn’t being clear with what he wants, and asking a lot of questions or if you’ve got an Allan on your hands who thinks he’s the priority of your day and raises his voice or gets angry to ensure he’s heard, practicing patience will allow you to accept or tolerate these hiccups without becoming too annoyed.

Show Empathy

Angry customers just want to be heard. Avoid an escalated situation with Allan by letting him talk out his frustrations without interruption. But don’t just stand there! Now is the time to practice active listening so Allan knows you’re present in the conversation and that you care about helping him find the perfect holiday item.

You’ll be better off giving him a few minutes to ‘vent’ and speak his mind while you get to understand his needs, feelings, and the very root of his issue. That way, you can offer the most appropriate solution. When listening it’s most important to be apologetic and understanding and to ensure your body language is saying the same things you are.

Control Yourself

Learning how to stay cool under pressure can help you get through challenging situations with grace. Talkative Terry doesn’t care that your store is filled with other customers who also need help and your time. She’s friendly and may be more interested in human interaction than a fast transaction, but it’s important for you to handle every customer professionally, no matter the circumstance.

Don’t rush through your interaction with a Terry. Ensure you’re keeping your voice calm and slow down your speech to show Terry that you’re taking the time necessary to understand her needs and provide a positive experience; there are other sales staff that can attend to other store shoppers. Listen carefully and ask closed questions for a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer from Terry to narrow down exactly what she wants. Keep calm and carry on.

Don’t Take It Personally

Some customers are going to be difficult no matter what. It has next to nothing to do with their interaction with you or even your company. They’re simply hard to please. So, don’t take these difficult situations to heart. Remember that helping customers is your job and having a positive attitude and helping the best you can is all you can do.

The best way to handle a difficult conversation is to finish it quickly while invoking those helpful tips above. The faster you can get a customer’s problem solved, the happier they will be. Making sure your staff understand how to handle these tough times—having the tools in-store to assist them—can make all the difference. Allow your staff to refund to a certain amount or authorize store credit by setting up security restrictions within RQ or use myRQ to provide manager overrides even if you’re not in-store. Don’t let the Grinch steal your time, energy, or patience this holiday season!

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