Customer’s Cryptic Computer Message – Did I Stop Shoplifting From Taking Place?
Usually I know if I have been able to stop shoplifting by recovering merchandise someone has dropped or by the demeanor of a customer if I offer them “too much” customer service. Several nights ago I encountered a very odd situation that I have never seen before. A customer entered the store and there was nothing suspicious about him other than he went to an area where people will tend to steal cell phone cases and accessories. I asked if I could help him find something. He seemed a little startled and said he was looking for an iPad for his nephew. Now I found that a bit odd. I love my nephews but not iPad love them. I told the gentleman we did not sell them but we did have alternative computer tablets that would be just as good and cost less money. I took him to that department. He gave a cursory look and was insistent that his nephew wanted an iPad and so he would just look around the store. I alerted our manager and I continued to watch the customer. He moved to some collectables we had and I engaged him in conversation about the items since I am a fan of these products too. My customer did not want anything to do with me and brushed me off. Now that my feelings were hurt I really wanted to give this fella my best customer service when he moved to another department. Again I was rebuffed. I watched him from a bit of a distance as he stopped at an all-in-one computer and started typing on it. He then quickly walked out of the store. When I looked at the computer screen he had typed, “You shouldn’t treat your customers like they are shoplifters.” I laughed and showed the manager on duty. Our store uses a Sensormatic security system to prevent theft but it works best when coupled with good customer service.
Electronic article surveillance equipment does deter shoplifting. From the time the criminal walks into the store and sees the towers to the visibility of anti-theft tags and labels all of this technology tells a potential thief that criminal activity will be risky if not impossible. There are crooks who are smart enough to know that some merchandise can be removed from packaging if not protected properly and then taken. These tend to be the more professional shoplifters who steal for a living. Giving customer service to everyone should already be a priority in a store but for these professionals it is an added deterrent along with the anti-theft devices. Customer service leads to increased sales and it does help to deter criminal activity as I believe it did in my situation. Loss Prevention Systems, Inc. (LPSI) owner Bill Bregar has been in the Retail Theft Prevention consultation business since 1983. He stresses to his clients the importance of building a customer service culture in the store in addition to the installation of a Sensormatic security system to stop shoplifting. Like me he understands how customer service works in conjunction with electronic article surveillance to minimize the risk of theft and how it improves profit. For those clients that do not have a Sensormatic security system in the store LPSI is a supplier but also offers the additional benefit of free, live shoplifting prevention training. You won’t get THAT offer anywhere else.
Did my customer intend to steal since he left his not-so-cryptic message on our computer? Well, I received a text from the store manager two days later saying that the police had come by the store with stolen merchandise. The suspect and two accomplices returned the next day and stole merchandise and it was recovered in the course of another incident involving the suspect. My “customer” also had felony warrants in other states. It’s nice to know that this old Loss Prevention Manager still has an instinct about how to identify and stop shoplifting. Since I can’t be there to help your store, take time to contact LPSI and see all they offer that can help your team reduce theft. Don’t delay you don’t know when my “customer” will get out and visit your store next.
Need information on a Sensormatic security system? Contact us or call 1.866.914.2567 and let’s talk.