Do What Target, Sears, and Macy’s Refuse to Do

If you are looking to grow a business, especially in the world of brick-and-mortar, you must get great at servicing customers. When you shop as a customer—you walk into a Payless, a Ross, a Dick’s or wherever, you can you browse for 20 minutes and leave the store without ever being greeted, much less being served. I’ve written before that retail is dead. The only way to stand out and have people not prefer to just shop your product online is to offer great service, the kind of service that makes people feel special.

I rode around in Target for 20 minutes and no one said a word to me…

All customer service is not equal—neither are all customers.

I know some believe that all customers should be treated as equal but the truth is they aren’t. In order to provide the highest levels of customer service, you have to understand where the customer is at in the buying cycle. Don’t treat all customers the same any more than you’d treat your different kids the same for being different. You know how you have two kids and one does something great, and you reward them both, so one doesn’t get jealous? That’s criminal. It robs the kid who did the great thing from being rewarded and it gives the kid who didn’t do anything a false sense of entitlement. Don’t do the same thing to your customers.

If you want to survive in the retail space, you must learn how to service your customer, and that starts with knowing the different stages a customer goes through:

1. Research

I’m collecting data, I’m hungry for information. I don’t know enough yet and I could be on the wrong product. I might be looking at something that’s not even close to what I want. I might be on the wrong product, too much product, I might be on too much service—I don’t know. I might be premature in the acquisition of the product.

2. Interest

Customers have fluctuating levels of interest. After doing some research, their interest will increase or they’ll move on. If a person looks at a house today, they might not yet be ready to buy and in 3 months their interests can change over time as they collect and do new research.

3. Comparison and Decision Making

Now that I have information I can start making comparisons and I become a different customer. You’ve done research, became interested, and are now shopping different options.

4. Negotiating

I’m now moving in to get the best deal, to get the most value for my money, and to get assurance I’m doing the right thing. This is where the customer is ready to buy.

5. Delivery

When I take delivery of this product, whether it’s a car, a house, or an insurance policy, I’m taking delivery of it—I’m trying on the shoes and asking myself if I really like it or not. I know a lady who buys 4 sizes of the same product, has them shipped knowing 3 of them are going back. The customer is finally taking the product or service for themselves.

6. Post-Sale

This is after the sale, and it could be long after I bought the shoes or the shirt. Months after I had a crown put in the dentist called me and asked how it felt, how I was doing, and that they had a free cleaning for me. Just because a customer has purchased doesn’t mean they are finished with your business, products or services.

Businesses everywhere can use customer service as an opportunity at every level from research to post-sale to increase business. You must look in each of the different places to exceed people’s expectations. Each method of communication at each of these stages is different. You should vary your approaches. This takes skill, training, and awareness.

Where do you need to improve the most? I’m offering a Sales Boot Camp later this week that can take your skills to another level. If you’re new to the sales game be sure to get a copy of my book Sell or Be Sold and Closer’s Survival Guide.

Remember, if you take the time and effort to learn how to really exceed your customer’s expectations and serve them along every area in the buying cycle, you will be doing much more for your customers than the Targets, Sears, Macy’s, and Dick’s of the world.

Be great,


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