• Responsiveness

Whether it’s being hailed enthusiastically upon arrival or being acknowledged with a quick smile and a nod, responsiveness is all about the first and lasting impression a sales representative makes. It’s about that first connection with a shopper. Think back to the last time you went shopping, did someone welcome you when you walked into the store? How long did it take before the staff indicated that they were aware of your presence? How long before someone offered to help you?

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Whether we attribute this to Oscar Wilde or Will Rogers is irrelevant, the statement stands. Humans are quick to judge. Whether you believe it takes half a second, 7 seconds, or half a minute, statistics show that making a good first impression has a powerful impact on the rest of the relationship.

Measuring responsiveness is the first step to understanding how frontline staff behaves towards a customer during the first contact.

A good sales representative will know that being responsive opens the door to building a relationship with a customer. Building strong relationships with customers leads to improved customer loyalty, which generates more sales. As a result, good responsiveness includes acknowledging a customer as soon as they come into a store, greeting them, and, above all: smiling.

Saying Hello

Greeting a customer is a quick way to let them know you’re aware of their presence. It creates an instant connection. Of course, greeting them too late can cost you their business – no one wants to be treated as an afterthought.

When you walk into a store in San Francisco, chances are you’ll only have to wait 11 seconds before someone greets you. This puts San Francisco in the lead, followed closely by Osaka and Amsterdam. Bringing up the rear of the pack are Barcelona, Chicago, Antwerp, and Toronto. Unfortunately, in these cities, it takes at least 1 minute for staff to greet customers.

Greeting Times: Fastest & Slowest Cities 

MainstreamMid-LuxuryLuxury
FastestBangkok & San FranciscoJakarta, Macau, MadridSao Paulo & San Francisco
SlowestParis & ChicagoBarcelona & AntwerpLondon & Toronto

As we can see from this breakdown, there are clear leaders in each fashion segment. There are some surprising results here, particularly with regards to Barcelona and Paris, both cities which pride themselves on their fashion industry.

Global Greeting Times

0:00:26

Luxury

0:00:38

Mid-Luxury

0:00:57

Mainstream

Making that first impression…

It’s not simply a matter of acknowledging customers at an appropriate speed. A store could have the fastest greeting time – San Francisco – but the type of greeting might not have much impact. Statistics show that the most memorable greeting – and therefore, the greeting with the most impact – combines verbal and nonverbal elements: a voiced greeting and a smile, for example.

Worldwide, 70% of the customers receive a verbal greeting upon entering a store. Here, Los Angeles scores highest with 93%, followed by Seoul with 91%. However, these verbal greetings are not always accompanied by a smile, those percentages are 86% and 68% respectively.

Importantly, 11% of the customers reacted negatively to the manner which they were greeted and approached. Furthermore, half of that number describe the staff as disinterested and about a third experienced a cold and unexcited greeting. 4% experienced outright rudeness.

How do staff greet customers:

66%

With a smile

56%

With ‘Hello/Hi!’

51%

With eye contact

29%

With a “Good morning/afternoon/evening…”

25%

With a nod

19%

With “Welcome to…”

2%

With a unique phrase

The Smile

Smiling is the best way to connect to people

Smiles are one of the quickest, easiest ways for people to connect with each other. It shows the other person – in this case, the customer – that they’ve been noticed and are welcome. Smiles are one of the most basic biologically uniform expression among humans; evidence has been found to suggest that babies even smile in the womb. All of this indicates that a smile is one of the most powerful tools in the human arsenal.

Aside from creating a solid connection between individuals, smiles are proven stress-buster. To this end, it is a vital part of human interaction and a very important factor when it comes to connecting with a customer.

On a worldwide level, this study shows that only 66% of staff greet customers with a smile, and this varies heavily from city to city. Singapore, for example, is all smiles, greeting 95% of all customers with this beautiful gesture. New Delhi and Macau come second, with 87% of their customers greeted with a smile. Don’t expect a smile in Melbourne, however; strangely enough the world’s most liveable city six years in a row, does not believe in smiling at its customers! This is only marginally better in San Francisco at 33% of customers receiving a smile, and Shanghai at 37%. As shown earlier, San Francisco is very good at verbally greeting its customers, but the lack of a smile diminishes the effectiveness of any verbal greeting.

Unsurprisingly, the majority – 70% – of smiles are offered in luxury fashion stores, followed by 65% in mid-luxury, and 63% in mainstream.

MainstreamMid-LuxuryLuxury
Most SmilesSydney, Amsterdam, Antwerp, London & TokyoMacau & BejingSingapore & Sao Paulo
Least SmilesShanghai & MelbourneMelbourneSan Francisco

The Wait

What customers do when they encounter long waiting times:

43%

Have a look around anyways

30%

Leave the store

11%

Avoid the store in the future

8%

Become frustrated

4%

Tell friends & family about the long wait

2%

Complain to the manager

The waiting time to a greeting is not the only aspect of a customer’s patience that must be taken into account. How long does it take before a salesperson comes to offer assistance, whether it’s to offer specific guidance or simply help with a purchase? How long is a customer willing to wait?

The global average waiting time before any service is offered is around 2 minutes across the fashion industry.

Shoppers in Sao Paulo are once again in luck, having to wait less than a minute before staff offers assistance. In 100% of all luxury and mid-luxury visits conducted in Sao Paulo the waiting time was less than 30 seconds.

Other cities that also did very well were Ho Chi Minh, Los Angeles, Macau, and Seoul. Here, once again, the waiting time was under 30 seconds in the luxury stores. Fashion stores in Tokyo, on the other hand, often force people to wait more than 3 minutes, and this is even worse in mainstream, with expected waiting times of more than 5 minutes.

When no one came to help…

The big surprises come from the data from Melbourne and Manila, where 93% and 80% of shoppers respectively did not receive any assistance. Often there are reasons why no assistance is offered – sometimes all the salespeople are busy with other customers for example. In fact, the study shows that shoppers listed this as the third top reason why they did not receive assistance. Globally, the two most listed reasons, however, show that the salesperson was either busy with paperwork and stocktake or simply did not attend to their customers.

The question is, of course, whether or not the salespeople acknowledged and reassured their customers, even if they were unable to attend to them straight away. The results are not promising, with 53% of salespersons doing ‘nothing’, and only 8% greeting and apologizing for being unavailable.

What did the staff do when they were unable to help immediately

53%

Nothing

25%

Acknowledged the customer with a nod

8%

Greeted the customer and apologized for not being available

5%

Transferred the customer to a colleague

6%

Asked the customer to wait

Knowing what happens is one thing, but understanding how patient shoppers are provides further insight into a potential problem. On average, everyone is happy to wait less than 30 seconds, but that goes without saying. Most people, up to 83% are happy to wait up to 3 minutes, and after that the percentages drop, with only half willing to wait more than 5 minutes. In essence, keeping customers happy means ensuring they are offered assistance within 2 minutes for the best results.

© AQ Service International 2016  | The Global Fashion Benchmark Report, all content thereof, research contained therein, and all data are copyright of AQ Services International. You may not reproduce or communicate any of the content, including all data, without the express permission of the copyright owner.