Winning Customers One Impression at a Time

The 2018 holiday shopping season is shaping up to be a strong one, with the National Retail Federation predicting total retail sales in November and December to increase between 4.3 and 4.8 percent compared with last year’s holidays. As much as $720.9 billion is expected to flow into retailers’ coffers this season, offering a tremendous opportunity to bring the year to a profitable close and setting the stage for an even more profitable 2019.

With the season about to get into full swing, retailers should be doing everything they can to turn first-time customers into long-term ones. That starts with the impressions your sales associates create.

There are four types of impressions those associates need to keep top-of-mind when serving their customers:

The first impression: This, of course, is the opportunity you have when a new customer walks through your door. No matter what that shoppers needs, you want to make sure everything works perfectly for them. Whether it’s greeting them with lots of energy, a beautiful store environment, in-depth product knowledge or just a warm smile, the first impression sets the stage for a terrific customer experience.

The continued impression: This is for those loyal, repeat customers. They know what they expect when they walk in your door. They know the person for whom they are shopping loves your store and will be wowed by any gifts they choose. For them it’s about consistency, finding a fun product and having associates who can help them get in and out of the store quickly time and time again.

The lasting impression. This is when a customer has a nice experience, leaves the store and feels good about what they’ve purchased. Those customers know they might come back and pick up a few more things during the holidays and will continue to shop with you in the new year.

The shareable impression. This is when a customer tells others about the experience they had in the store, such as “that associate was so helpful and I found exactly what I was looking for. You should definitely go there!” Those are the impressions that continue to deliver sales.

When setting up your associates for success, make sure they’re aware of the four impressions and how they are the basis for a great customer experience. And as part of creating those impressions, managers should teach their people to approach every customer with three words in mind: who, who and you. Who are you shopping for? Who else is on your list? And of course, you need a great gift for yourself! Those three words are the ticket to creating great impressions and to a great holiday season.