How to Lose a Retail Customer in 30 Seconds or Less

I saw it with my own eyes. I wanted to say something but I just stood and watched in shock and amazement.

Real-world example: The scene took place in one of those mail stores. There were two female employees in their 20’s working behind the counter. One was notarizing my paperwork while the other was helping a woman find the appropriate shipping box. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw an extremely elderly man –  in his 90’s – SLOWLY making his way to the counter. He was carrying a letter that was addressed and stamped. My first urge was to run over to him and ask if he needed any help, but I chose to observe the staff instead. As I watched him clutching onto the counter, neither of the employees looked at him. The man stood there, looking back and forth from employee to employee. At one point, he looked behind himself and around the store to see if there were any other employees to help him.  Finally, after about THREE minutes, one of the employees looked at him. In a feeble voice he said “I’d like to mail this”. The girl took the letter and put it in the  outgoing mail pile. No comment. No thank you. Nothing. I could see the look of disgust on his face as he wobbled his wait out of the store. I can almost bet that the next time he needs to mail a letter, he won’t be coming here.

What could have been a fast and easy transaction ended up being long and difficult.

Moral to the story: If you want to lose a customer quickly, ignore them for three minutes then be rude to them – especially if they’re a 90-year old man.

Strategies that Turn it Around:

As mentioned in my book, and reinforced by Sam Walton, customers need to be greeted within the first 30 seconds of their arrival.

2. Greet the customer within the first 30 seconds of their arrival.
3. If you’re already working with a customer or on the phone, smile then say “Hi, thanks for coming in. I’ll be right with you.”

Your company has gone to a lot of effort to get a customer to walk through your doors. Take care of them and remember: Every customer counts!

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