Remaining ProfessionalBY ARA Retail Institute
When you are interacting with customers on a daily basis it is important that you act in a professional manner at all times. A key part of this is how you present yourself and the way in which you interact, not only with your customers but also with other team members. If you are in a leadership or supervisory role within your store, your staff will look to you to provide guidance and direction for their own behaviours.
To learn how to steer your success as a team leader, the ARA Retail Institute runs workshops on leadership and team culture.
The importance of personal presentation
Creating a positive first impression goes a long way towards establishing a good relationship with the customer. It is estimated that most customers make a judgement about a salesperson within the first 10 seconds of coming into contact with them. This judgement is mainly based on your personal presentation and the body language you display. You are communicating with the customer without actually speaking to them.
Most retail businesses will have already established guidelines on how staff should present themselves whilst at work or representing the company. The expectations of different retail stores will vary widely depending on the type of retail business and the image that they wish to convey to their customer. For example, what is acceptable in a store selling surf wear will be vastly different to what is required in an upmarket department store.
Some retail businesses may also require or encourage staff to wear their products as this helps to promote them, and therefore, encourages sales. Other stores may dictate that certain colours are worn. Dependent on the nature of the work being performed, you may even be required to wear a uniform.
A salesperson’s personal presentation does not just relate to what they are actually wearing. It also covers other aspects of their appearance that reflect their overall presentation, including hair, makeup, jewellery, footwear, body art, and the like.
Your aim should be to present yourself in a professional way at all times. If you don’t achieve this, your poor presentation may have the following impact:
- Upset the customer
- Impact on your chance of creating a great first impression
- Prevent customers from returning
- Reflect negatively on your brands image
Maintain personal hygiene
As well as the need to maintain great personal presentation, it is equally important to ensure that your personal hygiene standards are also good. Personal hygiene refers to the activities that we perform on a daily or regular basis to ensure that we are clean, well-groomed and that our bodies are taken care of. This is especially important in a retail environment, where we are constantly in contact with customers and the general public. In fact, retail stores that are involved with food handling such as supermarkets, cafes, delicatessens, take away outlets; etc must follow very strict government laws for workplace hygiene.
As well as the social implications, personal hygiene is also essential in helping to prevent both the spread and contracting of diseases. If you adhere to good standards of basic personal hygiene, your chances of developing infections and various types of health conditions, is significantly reduced.
As you work in an open environment where you are exposed to many people, it is important to ensure that you do not spread any infections or diseases to other people. This needs to be monitored closely, especially during those times when you are sick.
Demonstrate professional ethics
Professional ethics, also called Business ethics, are standards or codes of conduct that provide guidance on the types of behaviour that is correct and incorrect for the profession that you work in. Following correct professional ethics will help you to become a valued employee and a successful salesperson. Professional ethics can help you choose what to do when you are faced with certain types of problems or situations at work.
In a retail environment, ethics may include:
Your professionalism will also be measured by your understanding of your store’s systems and procedures, your honesty and your positive attitude. Your professionalism will grow with your work experience as well as with training.
Knowledge of who to ask for help in your workplace, should you encounter a difficulty, is most important, as well as a willingness to learn and grow professionally from this person.
By being open and honest with your customers, you will go a long way toward establishing credibility in your customer’s mind. This credibility will lead to a level of trust and confidence in you as the salesperson, and therefore in your store.
- Information given must be accurate;
- Advice supplied must be genuine;
- Deliver on your promises.
There are times when individuals "stretch the truth" to make a sale. When this happens, this is a premeditated action of unethical behaviour. Other times, salespeople "stretch the truth" not in a premeditated process, but due to their overabundance of enthusiasm during the sales cycle. This is still unethical behaviour from the customer’s point of view since the inaccurate comments made by the salesperson may induce them to make a purchase.
Many organisations will document what they consider correct behaviour in their Code of Conduct. A Code of Conduct is a set of guidelines that outline an acceptable standard of behaviour and conduct. This ensures all team members understand what they should and shouldn’t do and helps to maintain consistency.
ARA Retail Institute is Australia’s leading retail training provider for both accredited and non-accredited learning programs. For more information, please visit: www.retailinstitute.org.au
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
ARA Retail Institute
ARA Retail Institute is Australia’s leading retail training provider for both accredited and non-accredited learning programs. The ARA Retail Institute is a Government Registered Training Organisation (RTO) making it fully qualified to offer retail education programs to ARA members and broader retail industry.