4 False Reasons Customers Treat Retail Salespeople like Crap

The customer/salesperson relationship is in turmoil. Following are 4 false reasons customers treat retail salespeople like crap.

#1: All salespeople make commission

Commission ruined the customer/salesperson relationship. In the customer’s mind, everything a salesperson does or says is just an attempt to try and sucker them out of cash to make an extra buck in commission.

By being a salesperson you’ve sold your soul to work for whatever company you represent, and you’re no longer a human being – you’re one of “them” salespeople. By being a salesperson you’ll say anything and are one of the most untrustworthy people in existence.

Because of commission, everything you say will be second guessed. If you so much as mention that a customer needs socks with the new shoes they bought or milk with cereal, they’ll have found your true motive – to sell them something extra.

Contrary to popular belief, every retail salesperson doesn’t make commission, in fact, nowadays less retail salespeople make commission than those that do. I’m often offended after spending 15-30 minutes giving free and valuable advice to a customer (that took years and a college degree to possess) only to be met with distrust at the cash register.

#2: The customer can get you fired at any moment

“I’ll have your job” or “let me speak to your manager” are two common phrases thrown around in a retail store environment. Customers will talk to you as if they are in complete control of you. If you so much as look at them in what they’d consider to be the wrong way or don’t triple bag their product; they’ll have your head on a plate.

I’m not sure what the fascination is with trying to get a fellow human being fired (especially during these times) but it’s right at the top of the irrational customer’s list – they just can’t wait for a reason to report the salesperson to management.

If the salesperson gives exceptional customer service, the average customer will appreciate it, thank the salesperson, and walk out of the store happily. If a salesperson rubs a customer the wrong way, an angry customer will stay in the store for hours until they’ve reported the salesperson to their Supervisor, Manager, General Manager, Corporate, and they’ve told all their friends to never shop at your store again.

What these customers fail to realize is that if you’re compliant with the store’s rules and haven’t done something totally against store policy, there’s almost nothing an angry customer can do to get you fired – and by acting irritated, the customer is just strengthening your case and coming off as irrational.

This customer has only spent a total of $50 at the store they’re entire life but feel that they’ve earned enough influence to have an employee fired. It costs the company lots of money to start the rehiring process, pay someone to interview, retrain new employees, and there’s also a loss on the potential of the “fired” employee. The manager might put on the ol’ “concern face” and do a big song and dance, but the employee and manager are likely good friends and the angry customer is just another “fuss bot.”

#3: The customer pays your salary

Every customer that buys a product at the store keeps the store afloat. Product and store loyalty are at an all-time low in the information age – where price matching and shopping online is so convenient. There’s a small bit of truth to this customer’s statement, but most customers stretch it a bit too far. They think that their money pays the salaries for all retail salespeople.

Each customer does their part and collectively they’re patronage pays every salesperson’s salary, but all angry customers act as though they’re a philanthropist and are the sole funder of everyone’s salary. The $50 that the customer just spent is made to be what pays for everyone’s salary, and every salesperson better treat her like royalty or she’ll take her $50 dollar bill elsewhere.

These same customers act as if they’ve bought no product at all and have just paid for your servitude. When these customers ask for your service; you work for them – not the company.

#4: The customer is smarter than the salesperson

There’s nothing more frustrating than talking to someone that looks down on you while seeking advice from you at the same time. This very thing happens on a daily basis within the retail world. The customer treats the salesperson as an underpaid moron and an expert in their field at the same time. I work at an electronics store and customers won’t curb their superiority complex even though they admit they don’t know anything about computers at all.

To the superior customer, it doesn’t matter whether they know about the products or not; all they have to know is that they’re buying, and are higher up on the food chain because you are working at the store and they’re not. These customers may be an expert in whatever field they work in, but you’re an expert in yours. They wouldn’t question a doctor, attorney, or school teacher so why do they feel compelled to question your career aptitude.

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