How to Improve Retail Customer Experience – 15 Tips For Improving Language on the Sales Floor


How to Improve Retail Customer Experience – Tips For Improving Language on the Sales Floor

Whether you call it customer service, customer experience, good selling habits, or simply doing the right thing, in retail you are only as successful as your last customer interaction.  How you interact with your retail customers is influenced by many factors including store policy, merchandising programs, ad programs and more.  But in the end it comes down to how you and your sales representatives interact with customers on the floor. 

The next time you are on the retail sales floor invest some time and take a listen to the language your team members are using with your customers.  You may be surprised to find that your team members are using phrases that are off-putting.  Let’s take a look at some dangerous phrases and alternatives that will result in improved customer service.


I Don't Know”
Customers do not expect retailers to know everything, but when it comes to answering a product question or other inquiry, they do expect the salesperson to be able to either provide or find out the answer

Better Alternative: “That's a great question. Let me find out for you.”


“All Sales Are Final”
Your stores policy may not allow returns on clearance merchandise or other items. It's fine to let the customer know this, but retailers need to be flexible and allow a return or exchange against company policy if it comes down keeping a customer.

Better: “Let us know if you're not satisfied and we'll make it right.”


“Calm Down”
If a customer has reached their boiling point, the best thing to do is to let them blow off steam.  Once they have gotten it out of their system, they will be more receptive to your proposed solution.

Better: “I apologize.”


“We're Closed”
At the end of the day, the last thing a closing-shift employee wants to do is allow a shopper in after hours. Before turning away a potential sale, keep in mind that while the customer may not know the store’s hours of operation, they DO want to spend money.

Better: “We close at __ o'clock and reopen at _ o'clock. Is there something I can quickly help you with now?”


“Will That Be All?”
While this may not appear to be an offensive statement, it can indicate impatience, and it certainly signals that the retail representative wants to end the selling process.  Instead, take your cues from the customer’s responses to selling questions.

Better: “Let me show you…” or “Have you tried __?”


“It's Over There”
Would you let your sales representatives give a customer the finger?  In effect that is what they are doing when they point and say this phrase.  Make sure all retail store staff knows using this phrase is a big problem as it indicates indifference to the customer’s needs.

Better: “Follow me, I'll show you right where it is.”


“I Can't Do That”
This is another way of saying “No” and that is the last phrase your customer wants to hear.  The key to eliminating this phrase is to empower your employees to make decisions, train them to solve problems, or to teach them to escalate problems they cannot resolve to a supervisor.

Better: “I think the best solution is…”


“That's Not My Department”
You may have team members assigned to different departments or roles within your retail store and your team member may not have the expertise to help a particular customer, but your customer does not care.  They simply want to get what they need.  Cross-train your team members whenever possible and teach them to assist customers by getting them to the person that they need to get the help they want.

 Better: “Let’s go find the right person to help you!”


“We're Out of That Item”
Customers know that stores occasionally run out of products.  Encourage them to buy through offering alternative products or take their name and number so you can call them when it is back in stock.

Better: “That item is currently out of stock, we have a great alternative, or I can give you a ring when it is back in stock, OK?”


That is Against Our Policy”
In today’s competitive market, retailers can't afford to be inflexible. Retail store policies are important because they provide guidelines for how to handle most situations.  But it is important to understand the value of a satisfied customer.  In fact, most retailers have a policy that allows retail team members to make exceptions to policy!

Better: “Typically our policy is __ but I want to make this right for you. This is what I can do…”


“I'm New Here”
Being a new employee is not an excuse for being unable to effectively assist a customer.  Your customer wants to make a purchase, have their question answered, or have their problem solved.  Customers are, very patient, though and will work with a new retail associate who is polite and works hard to help them. 

Better: “Please bear with me and I'll get you the help you need.”


“Hold On”
This customer service phrase, and all of its variations, should be non-existent. There is a much softer way to say essentially the same thing without infuriating the customer.

Better: “Are you able to hold for a moment?”


“I'm Busy Right Now”
Have you ever said, or heard, the following? “If it weren't for customers, I could get some work done.” If you are in retail, chances are you've at least thought it. The truth is, without customers retailers wouldn't have a job.

Better: “I'd be happy to help you.”


“You're Wrong”
While it is true that customers are not, in fact, always right…Retailers should never tell them they are wrong. Instead, focus on solving the issue at hand and retaining a customer for the long term!

Better: “I think there has been a misunderstanding.”

“If You Did Not See One, Then We Must Not Have It”
If you have a customer ask you to help them locate an item, they are telling you that they are in a buying mood!  You may be out of stock or simply have the product in the stockroom.  Either way, help your retail customer buy through helping them find the product or suggesting an alternative!

Better: “Let’s see if we can find one for you!”


Invest time in evaluating your retail operating procedures and your standard operating policies to ensure they are not encouraging your front-line sales representatives to use any of these phrases, or variants thereof.  But most critically, spend time on the retail floor training your team members on how to improve customer experience.