The four different types of specialty retail associates

| by Doug Fleener
The four different types of specialty retail associates

When I’m out shopping I typically encounter four different types of specialty retail associates.

The Gawkers. A Gawker is defined in the dictionary as "a spectator who stares stupidly without intelligent awareness." That may sound harsh, but if I'm out to spend money and a retail employee doesn't even acknowledge my existence, I'd say the definition fits. I'm sure that if you're a reader of this site you don't have any Gawkers on your team.

The Stalkers.Stalkers barely engage you when you come into their store or department, but follow you around hoping you’ll have a question or need. They're the human equivalent of an algae eater trying to suck up any easy business. The only value stalkers add to a customer's experience is getting something from the backroom, or removing any algae from your backside. As a customer I like Gawkers more than Stalkers — as long as they can ring up my purchase.

The Talkers.Talkers are very pleasant sales people and are some of the friendliest people you'll meet in retail. Talkers love to engage customers and they usually deliver a good experience. Talkers are great at answering customer questions, but rarely ask any of their own. Most Talkers love to talk about the company or the products, but without much of a sales focus they miss a fair number of sales opportunities.

The Rockers.Rockers are my favorite retail associates. They just plain rock the experience and turn up the sales volume. One store that has Rockers is my local Delia's, a retailer that targets girls and young women between the ages of 12 and 19. The young women in this store just rock!

They always welcome their customers and they also engage the non-buyers in the group. (That means dad.) They aren't at all pushy but they are assertive about moving their customer to the dressing room to try clothes on. Think about that. "Assertive" means making an all-out effort to win or succeed. "Pushy" is obnoxious. We should always be assertive without being pushy.

What I especially like about the Rockers at Delia's is that even though they have a young customer they are consultative sales associates. They give feedback on fit, style, and are extremely active in the dressing room. They're always running out to grab another size or another style for customer. That's not only great service, that's creating the sale.

Every time I go in that store with my daughters I happily leave money behind. There aren't many stores I can say that about, but then again there aren't a lot of stores that employ so many Rockers.

So let me ask, how many Gawkers, Stalkers, Talkers, and Rockers do you have on your team?

You can also create more Rockers by teaching your team to play these three simple chords:

1. Be extremely customer-focused

2. Be assertive without being pushy

3. Actively create and add value to your customer's buying experience.


Topics: Consumer Behavior, Customer Service, Employee Training, Specialty Stores



Doug Fleener
Doug Fleener, the former director of retail for Bose Corporation, is president and managing partner of Dynamic Experiences Group LLC, a proven retail and customer experience firm that works with progressive retailers and other customer-focused companies. wwwView Doug Fleener's profile on LinkedIn

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