When I began working in retail as a young man, I thought I would never use the skills I learned in a real world environment. There was nothing I found useful in being able to ask a customer “paper or plastic”, or scanning groceries fast enough to have a ring tender score of 95 percent.
Asking “paper or plastic” or keeping a 95 percent ring tender score is about as useless as a dead skunk, but I learned several things that would help me in business. These skills form the basic foundation of marketing, sales and public relation strategy.
The first thing that I learned in retail was the most important. Making the customer happy and building a personal connection is the best tool a salesman has. If someone dislikes you or doesn’t care, they won’t listen to what you have to say. If you build a connection, they are more inclined to listen to what you’re saying, and be interested in what you’re selling.
Secondly, people don’t like to wait. If you think someone is impatient in a checkout line with fifty dollars’ worth of groceries, think about how impatient their going to be when they shell out five hundred or five thousand dollars. You have to be prompt, or the customer is going to cancel their order before you deliver.
Quality service is important for repeat customers. In the retail store I worked, we had an Overall Satisfaction that reflected what people thought about our store’s service. They pushed and pushed quality. The corporation I worked for wanted people to have an enjoyable experience, because if they enjoyed their experience they would become repeat customers.
The final thing I learned was that perception is everything. The store I worked at had equal customer service to Harris Teeter, yet everyone thought Harris Teeter was better quality. My store had better prices than Food Lion, yet Food Lion had the perception of being low price. It was something that hurt us, and at one point threatened the entire district. I couldn’t believe it. The reason that my store did poorly on perception was bad advertising, perception is what you make it. If you say it the right way, people will believe it.
So, I guess I was wrong. These skills help me to this day.