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Revealed: what customers really mean

Dealing with customers in the right way is the key to any successful business. When it gets close to Christmas, the competition is fiercer than ever before, owing to far more advertising and an increased pressure on businesses to drop prices earlier and earlier.

It pays to know what a customer is thinking*. In the same way that you need to read between the lines when you give someone the ‘perfect’ gift, being able to gauge your customers’ reactions is everything if you want to keep them coming back. We’ve put together a guide to getting it right this year, by reading between the lines and getting the subtext behind what your customers say.

*so long as you respond in the right way

They say: ‘I’m interested in trying this on/trying this out.’

They mean: ‘I’m sorry but I’m using you so that I can try out all the different sizes/models and then probably get it cheaper online.’

Best response: Provide them with everything they need. A good customer experience always sticks and can encourage someone to come back later that day. If it’s a smart piece of tech for example, it may be worth running a demonstration and educating them more on the advantages of using it or switching to it. Time spent with customers is never time wasted.


They say: ‘I don’t know if I can afford it.’

They mean: ‘Is there an incentive? I need you to convince me a little more.’

Your response: It’s worth reiterating that your products are value for money. If it is a higher price, highlight the benefits of spending a little more, for example a guarantee or that it’s better quality than cheaper models.

They say: ‘I’ll think about it.’

They mean: ‘I’m not going to buy it.’

Your response: Again, a customer deciding not to buy something then and there isn’t a complete loss of business. Some people don’t like making a decision on the spot and like to have time to think about it. Make sure they remember you, offer them non-committal ways of staying in touch (for example, email) and ensure that next time they buy, you’re front of mind.

They say: ‘I’m just browsing.’

They mean: ‘Leave me alone.’

Your response: Not everyone wants to talk, so being friendly, and visibly available to help is your best approach here. If customers want to ask questions, they will. If not, they will explore your products themselves, so make sure prices and essential info are clearly on display. Nothing’s worse than making someone feel uncomfortable.


So there you have it. A 101 on deciphering customer jargon and keeping them coming back for more during the festive season.

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