In the second annual Retail Customer Dissatisfaction Study conducted by Wharton's Jay H. Baker Retail Initiative with the Verde Group, a Canadian consulting firm it was found that disinterested, ill-prepared and unwelcoming salespeople lead to more lost business and bad word-of-mouth than any other management challenge in retailing.
"There are a variety of different triggers for having a bad shopping experience, including things like parking or how well the store is organized. Some of those things retailers can do something about and some of them they can't. But frankly, a very important part of the retail experience is the interaction with the sales associate," says Wharton marketing professor Stephen J. Hoch, director of the Baker Initiative.
In a telephone survey of 1,000 shoppers who were asked about their most recent retail experience, 33% reported they had been unable to find a salesperson to help them. Many of these shoppers were so annoyed by this one problem that they said they would not return to the store. According to the Wharton analysis, sales associates who are missing in action cost American retailers six percent of their customers.