Retail managers at all levels should attend training to reduce employee theft and stop shoplifting. After a recent experience I had at a store they should also have to attend training to recognize when they or the store has made a mistake. I was birthday shopping for my wife and went to a well-known business to purchase a computer tablet. I was not getting anything expensive but the one I found was on a shelf with a shelf label that matched the description and a listed price of $79. There were two of the items on the shelf. I carefully noted what all of the shelf labels said so I was sure I was getting the correct item and took it to the front registers. I was at a self-checkout stand and asked the cashier if she could remove the security device on it that was meant to stop shoplifting. She struggled and I offered to assist (this has been a part of my career for over twenty years) and we removed the device. The item scanned at $99. I called her back over and told her the price was wrong and that the shelf label said it was $79. She called a supervisor over who must not have believed the register and scanned it and got the same price. She then told me that it scanned correctly. I asked her to come with me to electronics and I showed her the shelf labels. She then tried to point to another label and I showed her that the label she pointed to was for another brand and then showed her ALL of the labels. She then called the electronics person over who scanned the merchandise and told me the label was the wrong one. Now I was a bit irritated. The electronics associate tried to tell me why the merchandise did not match and I explained it was the only shelf label that DID match. The front end supervisor said she could give me 10 percent off. I told her that was not acceptable the price difference was $20 and I would just contact the corporate office. I started to walk away, still polite and maintaining my composure. Now I don’t know if these two thought they were able to stop fraud or stop shoplifting but I was perturbed. Then I had the notion I would speak to a manager because these two were no help.
The manager on duty came over and I explained for the third or fourth time what had happened and the 10 percent reduction offered to me. I went through the shelf labels again and explained what I had already explained. For the fourth time the product was scanned. For the fourth time $99 popped up. The manager agreed that the box seemed to match the shelf label then noted that there was another box on the shelf that looked nearly identical. It was the same except it was thinner and was missing a keyboard. When he scanned it the box was the $79 item I wanted. The manager admitted their planogram was missing a shelf label and he would have it corrected then apologized. I was happy to get the item I wanted. This was a situation where employees should have had some training on customer service.
Managers who attend training to reduce employee theft learn signs to look for that may indicate someone is likely to steal and the proper way to intervene to stop it. Training to stop shoplifting helps managers learn customer service skills that quietly disrupt criminals intending to steal. Unfortunately training that would teach managers customer service etiquette seems to be wanting. Rather than assuming a customer who is challenging a price is trying to commit fraud why not properly investigate the claim? How much easier might it have been in my attempt to purchase a tablet to have that first manager see that there was an issue with shelf labels and resolve the problem? Rather than admit a mistake of some type additional people were called in and a customer was getting quite ticked off. With the right approach it could have been a non-issue. As it was they nearly lost a sale and risked a call to their headquarters.
While training to reduce employee theft and stop shoplifting are available to store owners the responsibility to instruct managers at all levels on customer service etiquette is yours. Are you willing to lose a customer because a manager was unable or unwilling to recognize the difference between an attempt at fraud and a store error? Teach your managers to think for themselves and empower them to make the right choices it will pay off in customer loyalty.
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