Toy shoppers often are surrounded by sound. The happy laughter of children exploring the newest playthings and possibilities. The sound effects from toys and games that stimulate memories in the adult of childhood joys.
But sometimes the surround sound feels to the consumer more like an assault. Children crying and screaming when they can’t get what they want. Adults arguing with the kids. Repetitive sounds from the toys that would please only the type of shopper who’s a diehard fan of ice cream trucks.
And the toys can be alarmingly loud. A Hannah Montana in Concert doll was said to generate up to 103 decibels, while Tickle Me Elmo reached 100 decibels. That’s what you’d hear from the engine of a motorcycle or snowmobile.
All this auditory stimulation can aggravate emotions. Excessive noise leads us to tighten our muscles, and as research from National University of Singapore and University of Chicago confirms, tense muscles keep people from being sold what they’re not fully convinced they want. To facilitate the sale and soothe the savage shopper, introduce some silence. A little peace and quiet also soothes the harried salesperson.
- When a shopper seems to be getting progressively more upset in a noisy environment, find ways to reduce the noise. Invite the person to move to a quieter location, if possible. Turn down the volume of the music, if possible. Speak just loudly enough for the person to easily hear you, and not louder than that. Stay alert for signs you’re talking too softly, though, to the elderly and hearing impaired.
- If a shopper makes what seems to you to be an unreasonable request, introduce a pause. Stop whatever else you’re doing. Face the person straight on. Look directly at their eyes. Be silent for about ten seconds. Spend the time building within yourself a “Welcome to my business. You are somebody who can help me pay my bills. I prefer to find a way to avoid saying no to you” frame of mind. Then while looking at the shopper with a smile, say, “Please tell me again how I may help you.”
Beyond the silence, decide to have each shopper leave your store with pleasant sounds inside their heads. Since some of the last sounds the shopper hears are those associated with making the purchase, those sounds are especially important. We want the customer to come back soon and often, so we want them to take away positive memories.
- Give sounds of confirmation as the transaction progresses. A brief series of tones tells the customer that completion of the sale is getting closer. On the other hand, silence at this point in the transaction breeds annoying uncertainty.
- Keep it gentle. Loud cutting-edge music tells customers your store is trendy. Fast-paced music speeds up the shopper. But loud, fast sound effects when the customer is anxious to leave will irritate even people who crave excitement.
- Make it distinctive. Consider developing a brief transaction confirmation melody which echoes a little bit of the music that plays in your radio ad, for instance.
- Top it off with the most pleasing sound of all. Say “thank you,” dear.