If it is that easy, why are you not doing it?

Don’t stand so close: the science behind serving a customer

Every day I see retailers and staff stand around retail stores. Waiting… for something to happen as they continue to shuffle merchandise around the store. And this makes me wonder about something.

I know there is something out there that is freely available. It is easy. It costs nothing to implement. It’s proven to improve performance. Yet no one is doing it. Why?

Consider this:

There are many easy to implement behaviours that can improve service and increase your ability to persuade the customer to buy.


The Triangle of Persuasion

Don’t stand opposite the customer. That is a confrontational position even though it feels natural to end there when you walk towards the customer. Walk around and stand next to the customer and turn your body 45 degrees towards the customer.

 Stay outside the customer’s personal bubble. This varies by culture, but usually about 2 feet (60cm) is acceptable to most people. Look for signals if the customer is uncomfortable.

Both parties should be able to face AND reach the merchandise or object of interest. Buyer and seller side-by-side should be able to focus their attention on the object of interest.

You should stand on the right-hand side of the customer where possible. Of course sometimes the design of the store or position of the customer makes it difficult to start there, but attempt to manoeuvre that way unobtrusively if you can.

Make sure there are no obstacles between you and the customer. This includes baskets, trolleys, equipment, prams or handbags – and especially the counter.

Ensure your customer is as comfortable as possible. Not too hot/cold. If seated, make the chair comfy. (Search Google for ‘embodied cognition’ if you don’t believe me – or read this as a primer.)

There is more. From the shape of your mouth to the colour of your shirt, there are a myriad influences that can easily be systematised to be part of how you do business – without adding any cost.

But WHAT these things are is not really the issue here.

Long-term readers may remember this blog on Inside Retailing was called Retail$mart (and so was the Ganador blog and still has that URL). That is because I have always tried to create products based on insights that are road-tested practices and scientific findings. Over the last seven years I have shared many of those here and there. I don’t believe in trade secrets and I am not using this to pitch for work – feel free to create your own training by using the tips provided above.

Over the last two years Neuroscience has entered the public sphere. (Along with it the obligatory pop-up gurus of course, but that is another story.) The popular accessibility of this knowledge raises a very important issue, and is the purpose of this post.

The real question at issue here is: if ANYONE can find these insights, and let’s face it this is not rocket science, WHY are people not using it?

It is freely available. It is easy. It costs nothing to implement. It’s proven to work.

Consider the six things I mentioned above.

How many of them are trained into and embedded in your business? If not, why not? Please share in the comments… I am really curious.