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Improve Retail Sales by Reading the Customer's Body Language

Aug 26, 2008
Customers are the key to success in the retail business. Your goal is to let your customers know they are important to you, and that you are focused on meeting their retail needs. The best way to do this is to concentrate your efforts on assisting them promptly and efficiently with exceptional customer service. With the right training your employees can develop the skills needed to recognize and respond to non-verbal body language cues from a customer.

Body language is an often overlooked manner of conveying satisfaction or dissatisfaction in a retail setting. Body language is defined as 'The bodily gestures, postures, and facial expressions by which an individual communicates nonverbally with others.' Employees should be aware of body language signs from customers. They may notice them glancing around the store looking for assistance, or perhaps fidgeting with impatience. With practice your employees should be able to notice any signs of bewilderment, confusion, or dissatisfaction on a customer's face and respond appropriately before the customer has the opportunity to express a complaint verbally or exit your store without making a purchase. At a hint of an outward sign of frustration employees should step in and offer assistance. The longer a customer waits for assistance, the greater the chance that they will leave the store in frustration and seek goods and services elsewhere. In most cases, this will result in you losing a customer and your competitor gaining one.

Since this learned talent for reading body language and assisting customers before they ask for help can lead to extremely satisfied customers, it is imperative to instill this attitude in all store employees. With proper training, this is a skill that can be easily developed. Sales personnel with the ability to read a customer's face, their postures, and detect subtle cues that help them understand the customer's needs are a valuable asset for your business.

The body language of employees is important as well. It is imperative the customer know that you are there to assist them. A friendly smile and a willing attitude will reap big rewards for your store. Even during extremely busy times, a customer will have more patience once they have been recognized. A friendly nod, a gesture, or a quick comment is all a customer needs to be reassured that you have not, and will not forget about them.

Additionally, every transaction or interaction with a customer should conclude with a smile on the face of both the customer and the employee, a clear body language sign of satisfaction. A satisfied customer equals repeat business.

Pleasing customers is the bottom line for any store. Establish your reputation for top notch service. It is very beneficial for all employees to have a checklist visible to them in a work area. Employees often become very busy, and in such cases are easily distracted. A checklist is a constant reminder of the store's goals. It is a positive reinforcement of the service you wish to provide.
About the Author
Jim O'Donnell of Jaguar Consulting in Kingston, NH provides marketing and business development services for small business and has developed a series of Business Checklists to help business owners achieve higher growth and profitability. See Retail Marketing to review all checklists that are currently available. He can be reached at (603) 642-8338, JimODonnell@JaguarConsulting.com, or http://WWW.Checklists4Business.com
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