How retailers can differentiate customers

Estimated reading time: 2 min

This photo was shared by the famous author, Susan Cain.  She noted “There’s an introvert on the customer services team.”

Her world view is all focused on explaining to the majority of the population who are extroverts how the minority (introverts) prefer to be treated.

Treat different customers differently by Sephora retail

Skilful marketers treat different customers differently

Face to face retail is different from online retail.  Online, the customer wanders where she wants, unhindered except by popups and tracking cookies – she’s unaware of one of these most of the time.

But in shops, it’s different.  Many sales assistants are paid on commission – this drives their behaviours.  And without a customer to speak to they risk not getting a commission payment.

When I worked the shop floor [Harrods, Burberrys] and now when I go to Trade Shows, I developed a technique which was successful for me.

I would make eye contact with the customer prospect, smile, and then look away first.  Sometimes I also said ‘Hi’.

Why did this method customer engagement work?

Firstly, I made the customer aware that I was there and could help if needed.

Secondly, by looking away first I left them in control of any future re-engagement.  They could choose to ignore me and I had signalled that this was fine, that they had no obligation to respond or engage with me.

Back to Sephora

A comment under Susan Cain’s post said

While I understand that we are not all extroverts, is it really that hard to say no thanks when asked if you require help? Perhaps it is? Perhaps one solution would be to changes the words. Red”Happy to be approached for you to assist me” Black “Thanks for not approaching me, I would love your assistance when I ask for it”

And this was my reply

It’s not the “hard” aspect that matters, Debbie. It is the quiet lack of interruption in the shopping experience and the energy it takes to interact when you’d prefer not to.

I am married to an introvert and I have had to do a lot of learning.

Plus, enabling ways for brands to “treat different customers differently” is not just about Susan Cain‘s introverts versus extroverts angle.  There are many ways.

I did a website design for a real estate agent.  2 buttons on the home page – I’m Buying – I’m Selling.  They go to separate customer journeys…. with different messaging.

Retail customer segmentation challenge

If you run a retail business, where can you enable simple ways to allow customers to self-identify into different groups who want / need to be treated differently?

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