Happy customers

Having extensive experience in retail, both as a customer and as a salesperson, and dealing with customers on a regular basis even now, ithas become apparent to me that there are 5 types of customers, all with their own characteristics to the joy or despair of the person behind the till. Read on, and see if you recognise them!

PS: not to be taken too seriously – these are based on personal observation and meant for fun!

The shy one

This is the customer that tries to avoid your gaze, who would rather browse quietly without anyone interfering. They typically don’t like being the only customer somewhere as they feel watched. This type of customer has often decided what they are looking for, but don’t want any help finding it. They’ll respond if you talk to them, but the instant you do they look noticeably uncomfortable. How to deal with them: Be friendly and welcoming. Ask once ‘Can I help you?’ Then leave them to make the next move. Ideally you’ll busy yourself so they don’t feel watched and run away.

The snotty one

Similarly to the shy one, is the snotty one fine without any help. Unlike the shy one, he or she will waltz in, send a glance in your direction if you’re lucky, otherwise act as if they own the place – and that you’re invisible. How to deal with them; Be friendly and welcoming  – but don’t be offended if they ignore you. Ask if they’d like some help, and prepare for a rude answer or high demands. This can go both ways. They’ll either ignore you, or give you so much work that you’ll never want to ask anyone if they need anything ever again.

The chatty one

This customer will beam and thrive in your attention. He or she might not initiate conversation, but if you do, you’re likely to be there for a while. They are friendly and warm, if a bit confused about why they are in the shop in the first place. These customers always seem to have loooads of time, and this can get awkward if you’ve got other customers too. How to deal with them: As always, be friendly and welcoming. They’ll appreciate it. Ask them how they are, if the opportunity arises. This kind of customer will really value that you take the time to ask, even if the shop is busy. And this is the kind of customer that will make Your day, too. Smiles makes us smile!

The important one

Everyone’s favourite customer. Tapping their foot, watching the time, rolling their eyes when you spend a split second wishing the person in front of them a good day. Ignoring your greeting but demanding your full attention, this is the customer that wants to be treated as a VIP. As everyone who’s ever worked in retail knows, everyone should be treated with equal importance, but the important ones don’t agree with this. How to deal with it: Be friendly and efficient. When dealing with them, do not faff, but be polite. Don’t take any of their body language personally. These customers are often friendly – they’re just too busy and self absorbed to let it out, although they almost always do, if you give them an opportunity. Wish them a great day, ask how they are, and they might surprise you!

The angry one

There’s always an angry one. They are often super stressed, and they take it out on you. No polite chit chat here, sir, no! If you’re lucky they’ll look at you whilst ordering – if they say thank you I suggest you buy yourself a lottery ticket. I’ll never forget the lady I served coffee during my part time job whilst still at university. Grumpy and stressed, she never once looked at me with anything but contempt in her eyes, nor did she ever thank me or any of my colleagues. We called her ‘grumpy soya latte’. How to deal with it: With these customers, being friendly and attentive helps. They might even cheer up marginally. Be efficient and helpful. If they are regulars, smile and try to connect. Some of my grumpiest customers have smiled at me – it only took a few months of incessant smiling from my side, first. 

This should be taken with a pinch of salt – it is nevertheless amusing to stereotype, and more often than not you can place people in such broad categories. Happy people-watching!

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