What Counts for Warmth?
By the general definition in our lives, a smile, an effusive welcome and showing concern by helping until the task is achieved is deemed warmth. But there are nuances to it that are relevant in grooming Retail Executives. Knowing these nuances helps you create the right training program for them. At the same time, there are elements that you need to put in place as the store owner.
The Subtle Factors of Warmth
Warmth isn’t only about the smile on the face and welcoming a customer into the store. Warmth is also about clothing, grooming, body language, etiquette and vocal communication. Further, it is about grooming the Retail Executive to reflect the store’s merchandise and about making the customer feel comfortable in the Executive’s presence albeit at a distance.
When it comes to Clothing, the Retail Executive’s uniform must be in soothing colors. Choose colors that are relaxing and provide a sense of balance for the executive’s uniform, if possible in the lighter shades of the soothing colors – green, blue or orange. Ideally, your Retail Executives must have a uniform to prevent customers from doing the embarrassing thing of mistaking a fellow customer for the store executive. People don’t feel the warmth in a place where they are embarrassed. No ill-fitting, uncomfortable uniforms, high heels or extra pointed shoes. While they are uncomfortable to the Retail Executive who needs to be on her toes through the day, they also leave a certain discomfort in the customer’s mind. The idea is to keep the customer relaxed. And minimal accessories.
When it comes to Grooming, a well-groomed look is a must to show that the customer is important – no facial hair, washed hair combed neatly back, so that the customer has a good view of the face. This is essential to show openness and trustworthiness, by displaying that there’s nothing to hide. There can be little perception of warmth if the customer is uncomfortable. Clean, neatly pressed clothes are a must in all types of stores. Clean fingernails and hands are critical since the Retail Executive handles the products that the customer would soon be calling her own and carrying them home. She doesn’t want to see even a hint of dirt or oil on the executive’s person.
When it comes to Body Language, at the low to mid-end, keep it carefully neutral, but when the customer asks for help, the executive needs to lean forward with a smile, indicating a readiness to respond and help out. They need to take care though not to intrude into the customer’s space while guiding them. Posture and poise are important elements in grooming the Retail Executive. Further, the movements must be smooth and not jarring to the customer experience. Etiquette demands that the retail executive respect the customer’s notion of privacy and personal space.
When it comes to Vocal Communication, a soft, warm tone of voice is necessary, irrespective of the type of store, whether high-end or low-end, one-time purchases like appliances or regular purchases like provisions. This is particularly important in a high-end, exclusive store where loudness would be deemed boorish and lacking in warmth.
Taking all these 4 Elements together, the Retail Executive’s image must be managed to blend into the store. Clothing must meet the general parameters of the merchandise. So, while he is not expected to wear the high-end clothing, accessories or jewelry that the store carries, the general principle behind this set of merchandise would be of a certain polish and poise that comes with a tasteful uniform, good tailoring and grooming.
Trust is another underlying factor of Warmth. If the customer cannot trust the Executive, the warmth that he exudes is frowned upon as not just superficial, but of covering deceit. Nothing looks more superficial and than a Retail Executive who cannot control his weight, but stands in your store selling fitness equipment.
Lastly, the most important factor in the display of warmth is the Rule of the Opposites. Absence of the opposite many times indicates Presence of the factor. We are talking of eliminating Indifference to show Warmth and will be sharing this in the forthcoming post in Part – III of this Retail Executive Grooming series – Building Warmth by Eliminating Indifference – Grooming Your Retail Executive.