What is the best time to get a sales manager involved in a retail setting? This goes from the car dealership to the department store to the grocery store and the restaurant.
QUESTION: Why is the manager so often perceived as the "man behind the curtain" like in the Wizard Of Oz? This type of mystery for a customer breeds apathy and contempt. If the manager appears to be inaccessible, what else are they hiding?
Probably nothing. BUT, they say perception is everything, right? And transparency is vital in this market. If the manager is inaccessible and hard to reach what kind of message does that send?
ANSWER: The best time for the manager to get involved is as soon as possible.
Now that doesn't mean the manager takes over for the sales person or service representative. What that means is the manager makes her presence known. A good manager will pop his head out, smile, introduce himself, pass on a business card, shake a hand and offer to be of service.
That's all. This communicates to the customer that the manager is interested, that they are here and are available.
In many cases, the manager may just be too busy to do that. She's working with customers already and helping her people. Let's use a restaurant as an example. 7:30 on a Friday night. Customers everywhere. Should the manager be helping get the food to the tables, working with the hostess to make sure customers are getting seated properly, helping the bar or should they be walking the dining room meeting the guests?
YES! All of the above, yet the emphasis should be on walking the dining room meeting the guests. A properly trained staff can handle the food and seating. The manager who is most effective is meeting the guests and enhancing the experience of dining there. If there's a problem or a complaint, the manager should have already met the guest, not have this be their first encounter.
Transfer this example to the car dealership. People love getting a new car. It is one of the great joys of Americana. Yet they HATE the process. Steeped in mystery and confusion, customers tend to be very cautious when visiting the dealership. And for good reason. As a manager, it only makes since that the clients and guests are made to feel welcome and appreciated. It is also very important to honor the fact that they chose to visit this location verses all others. Customers have more choices now than ever. Wouldn't it make since if the manager got out of obscurity early in the process so he's not seen as the "closer" later on?
Here's an example greeting: "Hello and welcome. My name is David, I'm one of the managers here. Just wanted to introduce myself. I see you're working with Steve. He's one of our best, you're in good hands. If there's anything I can do to ensure a pleasant time here, please let me know."
- How hard is that?
- Would that put the buyer at ease?
- How would that help later if the needed was actually needed?
- Does the competition do that?
How cool would it be to have the manager of a supermarket introduce him or her self and offer to be of service? Would that change anything about how the customer perceived the company? Any company for that matter...
Management intervention is a key piece to customer satisfaction and retention. It gives credibility, enhances the overall experience and motivates the staff.