A long time ago, when my son Matt was eight or nine years old, he used to love to go to IKEA with my wife and me. Some kids hate to go shopping with their parents, especially for furniture, but Matt liked going to IKEA because it gave him so many places to hide. We would sit down on a couch to try it and two seconds later Matt was nowhere to be found. He really enjoyed playing hide and seek among all the displays!
Now that my wife and I are empty nesters, we decided to renovate our apartment. We live in Manhattan, where there are plenty of really good, knowledgeable and dedicated sales people, but I was surprised by how many salespeople seem to hide from customers. You would think that if a salesperson saw a couple walk towards a dining room table, put down a leaf and sit in a chair, that the salesperson would identify them as interested buyers and try to engage them in conversation. Or at least introduce themself and offer assistance. Yet, during our hour long visit walking through a large home furnishing store, no one ever asked to help us. No one tried to strike up a conversation about the weather, which happened to be brutally hot that day. No one asked us if we could use a drink of water or help in locating what we were looking for. Despite the fact that there were teams of two or three sales associates walking through the store, no one approached us. Not one.
I was reminded of our shopping trips with Matt. Only this time, it felt like the sales associates were the ones that were hiding!
When my wife and I left the store, we both looked at each other in total amazement. We had actually liked some of the pieces we saw but were so disappointed with the lack of customer assistance that we both agreed we would never shop in that particular store again.
Do the owners of this furniture store realize that their sales associates are hiding from their customers rather than engaging them in conversation, helping them to the best of their ability, making them feel welcomed and important and ensuring them that their future business will be appreciated? Are your representatives hiding from your customers? I hope not!