Can I help you?

No.

Why is it that someone trying to help us can annoy us so much?

A salesperson is only doing their job, not setting out to be deliberately offensive, yet our reaction can be very negative and, if we’re not careful, impolite.

One reason could be that we do not feel that the salesperson genuinely wants to help us. They are doing their job and we expect them to help us to make our purchase. It’s obvious, isn’t it?

That is why it is so important that people only say what is genuine. An obvious sales script invites the customer to interrupt and say “no, thank you”, because they feel they are being talked at, rather than being heard.

On the other hand, a genuine attempt to help can clinch a sale, as was the case when I bought a vaccum cleaner. I decided on the model and was going to buy it from an internet site, but wanted to see one first. The salesman in the shop gave such a wonderful demonstration that I bought it from him there and then – he deserved the sale.

And I still tell people about it three years later – what a big impact good service has on people.

So, it’s no surprise to hear media reports that some financial institutions who have transferred their call centres offshore to cut costs require less than 0.5% of their customer base to switch to another supplier as a direct result of this to make it uneconomic – and that in some cases over 1% of customers are deserting.

People abandon companies’ products and services when they feel their personal needs are being ignored. It’s not good enough to rely on databases and research to find out what people want, it needs a personal touch. When it is so easy to find an alternative supplier for anything, personal service is more important than ever in retaining the goodwill of customers.

Customers want to be treated with courtesy; they want to be heard; they want to feel special.

They want the salesperson to give them their full attention and focus entirely on satisfying their needs – anything less is a waste of everyone’s time.

It doesn’t cost the business anything more, but it can increase its sales and keep customers coming back.

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