Are You a Helicopter Associate?


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There’s probably nothing more annoying when you’re shopping than to be in a store and have a salesperson hovering around you.  I call those salespeople “helicopter associates.” These well-meaning employees unknowingly aggravate customers and cost their stores more sales than they make.

There are three reasons employees hover:

1) They don’t have the ability, or choose not to, engage a customer on a personal level.

2) It’s the easiest way to make a sale with the least amount of effort.

3) The staff has poor floor awareness or is overly aggressive on the sales floor.

The easiest way to ground this behavior is to declare the store a no-hovering zone.  All three of these reasons for hovering are easily avoidable by setting higher expectations and helping each other improve skills.

We should expect every customer to be welcomed and engaged when they come into our store. They should not be pounced on, either. Give them plenty of space to come in and get comfortable.

If it is clear the customer wants to be left alone for the moment, all an associate has to do is to acknowledge the customer’s comment and then set the expectations.

“Feel free to look around, and don’t miss the new products on the back wall.  I will check back in with you in a little bit, and if you need anything before that please don’t hesitate to ask.”
Now you’ve got no reason to hover, and you’d be doing your customer a disservice if you didn’t reengage her.  If she says she’s all set and won’t need any additional help, then by all means leave her alone.

At this point you can go ahead and help other customers or take care of other tasks, but be sure and keep yourself available if and when you’re needed. After an appropriate amount of time reengage the customer as you promised. Use an open-ended question or statement to facilitate conversation.

By the way, if you believe you have a shoplifter in your store you still shouldn’t hover. Instead, engage him directly, but don’t give him the option of “just looking” on his own. He’s just waiting for you to leave him alone to do his dirty work.

So let me ask, is your store a no-fly zone?
– Doug Fleener

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Doug Fleener
As the former director of retail for Bose Corporation and an independent retailer himself, Doug has the unique experience and ability to help companies of all sizes. Doug is a retail and customer experience consultant, keynote speaker and a recognized expert worldwide.


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