What Are They Listening to?

The other night when I was shopping at a new mall here in Colorado, I went into numerous major clothing stores. With each of these stores I visited, I became more and more disgruntled with the service—or lack of service—provided. Not one of the salespeople (a term I use very loosely) approached me, asked me a question, welcomed me, offered any assistance, or tried to sell me anything. And in each of these stores, all of the employees or salespeople were wearing a headset. Who are they listening or talking to? It certainly isn’t the customer!

There was a time when, as a customer service, salespeople were encouraged to wear headsets as a means to increase the level of service given to customers. The headsets were used to get merchandise, call for assistance, answer questions, call for price checks, and in general help customers to make purchases. I wonder if the entire concept has backfired! Now it seems that the headsets are an excuse to ignore customers. Are the people talking to their boyfriends or girlfriends? Are they catching up on gossip? Are they making prom plans, listening to the latest top 40 hits, or (worst of all) not listening to anything and simply pretending?

Nobody in today’s world can afford to have salespeople ignoring customers. Maybe these big box national chains don’t feel the effect as soon or as directly as the independent retailers. However, history tells us that eventually they will feel the effect. Aren’t these types of scenarios the reason that the independent can still thrive and flourish? Maybe you can’t match the price or the depth of inventory, but you can certainly offer exceptional service. As a salesperson in an independently owned or service-driven organization, the most important thing that any of us should be listening to is the voice of the customer. The customer wants to be welcomed, they want suggestions, they want to be shown coordinating styles, they want to be thanked and they are screaming for service. It all begins with listening and talking to customers!