Doug Fleener's

The Day Makes the Year


Where’s Your Customer?

May 01, 2024

Let me ask the question in our subject line: Where's your customer? If your first thought was that they're not currently in your store, then I hope someone walks in soon! Although this article is not about marketing.

Instead, it's about putting the customer front and center to help your staff be more effective and sell more. 

It's incredibly simple and effective. The more you position the benefits of everything you expect of your staff to the customers they serve, the more likely the staff is to execute them at a higher level, which leads to higher average ticket and conversion. 

Often, leaders focus more on the "what" and not the "why." And the "why" is usually more connected to the store's benefit than the customer's. 

Here are three examples of how embedding customer-centric benefits into everyday employee and sales/service situations can profoundly impact both customer experience and business results:

When an employee doesn't show up on time

A typical approach would address an employee's lateness by focusing solely on the rules and consequences, emphasizing the need for punctuality and the potential disciplinary actions for repeated tardiness. 

In contrast, a customer-centric approach would connect the lateness to how it affects the customer's experience. You might explain how each team member's timely presence is crucial for ensuring that the store can open on time, maintain a high level of engagement and customer experience, and ensure every customer has the help to buy the best products for them. 

This approach not only addresses the issue of punctuality but also ties it back to the overarching goal of delivering a superior customer experience.

Selling down – Not up

Why do we always show the customer the best and higher-cost product first? (I call that the Butcher Rule. Butchers always recommend the best cuts of meat. Not the cheapest.) 

It's not so you sell more. Instead, the customer deserves to see the best products that meet their needs and wants regardless of price. When the staff sells down—not up—in the customer's interest, you increase your average ticket. This is not the primary reason, but what a tremendous benefit.

Don’t ask, "How may I help you?"

I wrote about this last week. While visiting a store, a staff member asked that question, and the manager said, "Don't say that. It hurts our sales." 

Instead, the customer-centric leader would say, "We don't want to ask the customer if we can help them because the customer will always have a better experience with our assistance." 

This difference is enormous because employees don't want to feel like they are being pushy salespeople. But if an employee doesn't add value to the customer's experience, it sounds like you have someone you need to work with more. 

These are just three examples, but so many more happen in your day. You elevate your team's performance and the store's result by placing the customer at the heart of all your conversations and coaching. It's simple, effective, and, importantly, what's best for the customer. Funny how that works!

So let me ask three questions:

  1. What would be the name of a movie about your store’s customer experience? When Harry Met Salesy? I like, Top Add-On: Maverick.
  2. What’s the funniest excuse an employee ever had for being late? I had an employee tell one of my clients they drove 10 miles in the wrong direction. The best part: the store was 3 miles from where they lived!
  3. How well do you currently connect the customer’s benefit to what you ask the staff to do? How many times can you practice it today?