Reading and exceeding the customer’s expectations

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One of the keys to meeting and, we hope, exceeding a customer’s expectations is to first determine what they are. How do you know if you’ve met or exceeded expectations unless you know what they are?

Unfortunately, many retailers and sales people take a “one size fits all” approach.

They assume a customer wants to be left alone. That may or may not be true.

They assume a customer wants to chat and look at lots of products. That may or may not be true.

They assume a customer is in a hurry or not in a hurry. That may or may not be true.

They assume a customer is interested in features. That may or may not be true.

I could go on and on, but you get my point. What is important to one customer doesn’t mean a thing to another.

How do you know what someone is expecting from you and your store? The easiest way to find out would be to ask your customer when he/she walks in the door. Although some people could easily answer that question, many (most?) would struggle to verbalize it.

And there’s our answer. Almost every customer will give us non-verbal clues about how we’re doing towards meeting or achieving their expectations

Some are very clear, like the customer who is in a hurry. Others aren’t as easy to read, like the customer who is more interested in fashion than features.

What’s the key to reading body language? Be observant.

Where is your customer looking when you’re talking to him? If he’s looking away, then something else is important to him.

Is your customer smiling? I have enough retail experience to know that not every customer smiles…but I do know that when someone is smiling, they’re having a good experience.

Does your customer’s smile look forced or fake? If it does, you’re clearly missing your mark. Experts say you can tell a forced or fake smile because the eyes don’t change as they do with a real smile

Is your customer shuffling her feet, or leaning back and forth between the left and right foot? Usually, but not always, this means she wants to get moving on to something else.

Is your customer reaching out for the product, or are you having to hand things to her? If someone reaches for the product first it’s a clear sign she’s interested and is a potential buyer. Well, that or maybe a shoplifter, so stay close either way.

Is your customer answering in short abrupt sentences? That’s right, it means he doesn’t want to talk. That may seem obvious, but I have seen retail salespeople run customers off by talking too much to someone who simply didn’t want to hear it.

You may not be able to read or understand all of a customer’s non-verbal cues, but I guarantee that if you work at this you’ll deliver a better experience and sell more products.

So let me ask, are you meeting or exceeding the customer’s stated and unstated expectations?

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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