It’s almost midnight, the lines are long, and sale signs cover the doors and windows of every store. Black Friday kicks off the winter shopping season. A few months later the retail calendar jumps ahead to huge swimsuits sales. Customers wait to enter the stores, while employees wait to assist them as soon as the rush begins.
This means customers want to get in and out of the first store and move on to the next. The employee’s job in this process is to provide helpful customer service — but does customer service drop when the crowds pile into the store during peak seasons?
During these sales spikes, it is about getting those lines down, quickly assisting customers and not spending too much time with them. When the crowds are not piling into the stores, employees have more time to be personable and make sure shoppers find something they want.
Forever 21 is a good example of mass crowds during the busy seasons. Registers are open and the lines stretch almost out the door. Some employees work fast to get customers satisfied and moving on, then help others find sizes and specific items on their lists.
“The holidays are crazy. The lines are long but the hours seem longer,” said Andrew Collins, the store manager at Forever 21 in Santa Ana’s Westfield Main Place Mall. “We employees are working as hard as we can to provide great customer service but also trying to make sure that we do it in record time. When we are not in holiday season it is easier for us to give customer service around the store.” As a manager, he encourages every employee to take their time with the customer and find out exactly what they are looking for.
Helping the management team are sales associates who work directly with the customers. “Obviously we have guidelines to follow on customer service. Always greet the customers when they walk into the store. Ask them what they are shopping for, or if they need help, and check up on them later,” said Samantha Cuin, a sales associate at Foreign Exchange in the same mall.
Basic guidelines apply to most retail stores, though every company has certain standards they want an employee to meet. Customers also have criteria they look for when they shop. Customers say they want to feel as if they have an employee’s undivided attention when they are shopping.
“I always want to feel welcome in a store when I shop, so it is nice to be greeted right away,” said Armando Besne, a shopper at Forever 21. “When an employee checks up on me when I’m shopping and specifically asks what I’m here for, it makes me feel like they are actually trying to help me and not just making a sale.”
For an employee, this means be aware, and even if it is peak season give the customer the attention they need before moving on to the next shopper — but when the season is slow, sales associates have more time to talk one-on-one with customers, making service more personal.