Sunday 15 January 2017

Do You Respect Your Customers?

Do you respect your customers? Or do you think the majority are trouble-makers who don't really want to buy? Don't laugh - some traders talk in these terms, hopefully only between themselves.

One trader expressed a theory that on bad trading days the good customers are simply absent. All we are left with are the customers who are out to browse, have no intention of buying, and are wasting our time. They are always part of every market crowd but it is easier to put up with them when the good customers are also around. 

So instead of complaining about the bad customers, we should be complaining about the good customers who have decided not to come. It is a moot point but it might help navigate through those difficult trading days.

Getting back to the respect thing - I walked past a group of customers chatting in the aisle yesterday and one of them was telling his group that he found a product he quite liked but the trader wouldn't talk price. I'm not sure what "wouldn't talk price" meant. Was it simply that the trader wouldn't meet his offer or that he refused to talk price at all.

On my stall, we display a normal retail price and our discount price. If a customer asks for a price reduction we refuse but rather than disrespect their request we gone on to explain our pricing philosophy and why we choose to display a discounted price upfront. I'm sure it bores the hell out of some people but the majority seem to appreciate the explanation and the respect we show their request. After all, we know that many traders expect a to-and-fro bargaining session with every sale, and we can't blame customers for trying to work out whether we do the same.

Either way, a little respect usually ends up with a good customer exchange and often a sale. Even if they don't buy this time, they are likely to become one of the good customers that help create a good trading day next time.

And to conclude, the following graphic was recently published in the Harvard Business Review.

Note how grocery and food brands rate higher up the scale, specialty retailers rate around the middle and department stores lower down the scale. I wonder where market traders would come in?

By Greg Smith