4 Types of Customers Retail Assistants Love to Hate

“Right or wrong, the customer is always right.”

Like it or not, dealing with challenging customers is part and parcel of any frontline job in the retail industry. Being in such a customer-centric role requires tenacity and a good attitude, especially since the objective is often to deal with and manage the expectations of others to create a memorable customer experience.

To be successful in this competitive environment, patience and understanding are essential to understanding the behavioural patterns that drive a customer’s decision-making process.

Nonetheless, handling difficult, angry or even manipulative customers is usually infuriating, frustrating and time-consuming. Win half the battle by knowing how to recognise such people, and the rest depends on choosing the right approach. With a positive attitude, things might not turn out as bad as they could be.

The Diva
Characteristics: Difficult, demanding, at the high end of fashion with flashy clothes and the occasional pair of huge sunglasses.

Warning: May try everything but buy nothing.

On a shopping trip to Barneys, celebrity Jennifer Lopez got tired of staring fans and asked her personal shopper to close the store so that she could browse in peace.

Diva shoppers like J. Lo may find initial pleasure with you at their beck and call but regardless of their demands, you must maintain a service-oriented attitude. With divas (and wannabes), you need to be assertive, not confrontational. The idea here is not to make the customer feel bad but satisfied instead.

The Cheapskate
Characteristics: Unassuming, the only way to spot them is when they compare your price tags with their long list of similar products from other stores.

Warning: High possibility of haggling even with fixed prices.

With inflation and a recession these days, more shoppers are turning into Cheapskates. To win the loyalty of the Cheapskate, think about adding value to their experience even if your store can’t offer discounts or rebates.

Be firm about your prices if they’re fixed but offer little freebies if they buy many items. A friendly and helpful sales attitude will greatly help in making them return shoppers.

The Complain King
Characteristics: Loud and whiny nagging, very poor manners (if any).

Warning: Will complain about anything and everything, rarely satisfied.

These attention seekers will bother you to no end pointing out all the faults in your store, products and even your choice of perfume.

As best as possible, listen without interrupting while addressing issues when appropriate. Never look or sound impatient. Doing so will just add another hour to the monologue.

Avoid stabbing the Complain King with your pen and instead think happy thoughts and project a smile throughout. Often, they only want to be heard so just offer a listening ear without being defensive. A popular method of appeasing them is with cash vouchers. Otherwise, offer to investigate and amend their grievances where necessary and you’ll soon be rid of these troublesome shoppers.

The Aggressor
Characteristics: Always spoiling for a fight, short fuse, easily provoked, usually rowdy.

Warning: Will create a huge scene if given the chance.

Aggressors make even the hardiest retail professionals feel threatened, awkward, angry or even fearful. Steel yourself and give the Aggressor time to let it all out.

Remain calm, resisting the temptation to kick him or her in the groin. Through your actions and words, let him or her know that you have every intention of providing the best services. An effective way of handling emotional customers is to address them by first name – it adds a personal touch to the communication and usually helps in calming them down.

When the Aggressor realises he cannot intimidate you or incur your wrath, he or she will eventually back off. However, if he remains implacable or the argument degenerates into physical contact, don’t hesitate to call security.

What other types of customers get under your skin? Share with us in the comment box below!

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