Every time I’m at the cash register I get asked the same question and it is driving me nuts! I cringe when I hear it. It is driving me to the point of almost wanting to use the self-serve registers (which I hate with an equal passion to hearing this question.)
You know the question because you have been asked this question, too. And your answer, like my answer, is always the same and matches the same answer given by 99.7% of the people asked.
“Did you find everything you were looking for?”
Of course you say Yes. God forbid you should say No at which the cashier asks what you’re looking for and then holds up the checkout line you had already waited thirteen and a half minutes in to go find someone else to come tell you what you already knew—that they were sold out.
Or worse, you say No and nothing happens. They might offer you a feeble sorry and ask you to try back again later.
Or even worse, you’re walking out of PetSmart and the guy in front of you is asked that question as he is leaving the building! When he replied angrily that no he hadn’t found what he wanted, the clerk told him to, “Okay. Have a nice day!”
(By the way, that story was sent in by a reader. Feel free to share your good and bad experiences. We can all learn from them.)
At the cash register it is too late to ask that question. You need sales people on the floor working with customers before that question even comes up. If you can’t manage that, at least have someone there to ask that question before the customer gets in line to checkout.
Once a customer has decided to checkout, she is in a hurry to leave. The customer may have leisurely browsed every aisle of the store, but now that she’s at checkout, she’s ready to go, go, go. The only valid product question to ask at checkout is if the customer needs a specific item to complete the sale such as batteries to go with a toy, paint brushes to go with the paint, shoe polish to go with the dress shoes, etc.
A generic, “Did you find everything?” question gets a knee-jerk, reactionary, “Yes,” and no one gets served.
This question ranks up there with “Can I help you?” in the lore of worst questions to ask in retail because the answers are meaningless at best, and defeatist at worst.
PS Sure, there are exceptions to the rule. Ask 100 people and you might get one who admits to not finding an item that you actually have. Of course, the other 99 are peeved, as are the 99 people behind them in line who were also in a hurry to checkout. The ROI for asking this question during (or after a la PetSmart) the checkout is negative.
PPS Even if you are asking the question before your customer gets to checkout, there is a better question to ask before the customer gets to checkout …
“Who else is on your list?”
(I learned that question from somebody else. Since I cannot find the source, I’m giving Bob Phibbs the credit for that line. It sounds like something Bob would say.)