Often in retail, you will approach a customer to offer assistance and be given some version of the browsing response.
“I’m just browsing.”
“Just killing time.”
Generally, when you are confronted with the browsing response, it means one of three things:
- The customer really is just browsing.
- The customer does not want to deal with anyone and just wants to figure it out on their own.
- The customer does not want to be “sold” and figures it is safer to browse unassisted than to risk a pushy salesperson.
How do you know which one describes the customer in front of you?
In the first interaction, it actually does not matter. In the first interaction, you should respect the browse.
No matter the reason, the customer is obviously not ready to engage with anyone. That is all that matters.
Whenever you receive the browsing response, your response should generally be the same:
Your name plus a helpful fact that opens the door for the customer to approach you later.
- That’s great. My name is Adam. I’ll be right over there if you need anything.
- I understand. My name is Adam in case you need anything. I’ll check back in with you in a little bit just in case you have any questions.
- That’s my favorite part of shopping. I’m Adam if you need anything. Just to let you know, we just received these new inventory scanners, and I can look up anything in the store for you right on this device.
Also, when someone tells you that they are just browsing, do not say any of the following:
No worries. No problem. That’s okay.
Why is this language bad?
Because the customer is entitled to browse. You should not use language that…
- Indicates that the customer’s decision to “just browse” is not imposing on you (they don’t care),
- Give the impression that you are giving permission for them to browse (they didn’t ask you for it).
Use some of the starter language in the examples above for some better choices.
Re-engaging with Browsers
So, when should you re-approach someone who is just browsing?
This decision depends a lot on both your ability to read body language and how long the customer has been walking around. After a certain amount of time, most browsers expect someone to follow up. There is no hard and fast time rule here. You have to make a judgement call based on the customer’s demeanor and the typical patterns on your sales floor.
When you re-approach, you want to avoid a pushy, sales tact.
Generally, you would start with some sort of “checking on you” line:
I just wanted to see how you are doing.
Then you could use one of these phrases
- Were you shopping for someone in particular?
- Were you looking for something for yourself or someone else?
- I noticed you’ve been looking at pants, are you interested in the new spring items that just came in?
Don’t push specials or deals unless you can tie it to something in which the customer showed interest or unless you can engage them in conversation that leads to the specials naturally.
The key to handling the browsing response it to find the sweet spot between ignoring the customer and pressuring the customer. You want to make sure you are available to the customer and that the customer knows this, but you also do not ever want to give customers the sense that you are hovering over them or pressuring them.
Respect the browse, but just remember that “I’m just browsing” should not be viewed as a “no” but as more of a “not right now.”