Tips on how to confront a suspected shoplifter
Retail loss prevention and asset protection professionals deal with everything from belligerent customers to petty theft and situations that have the potential to turn violent. Dave Young, co-founder of Vistelar, believes that the best start to handling any circumstance is a universal greeting: “Hello, my name is ___.” Leading the “Emerging Leaders Workshop: Verbal Defense and Influence” for a full house at the NRF PROTECT Loss Prevention Conference, Young stressed the importance of treating all customers, including potential perpetrators, with dignity and respect. He believes that the sixth addition to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs should be a sympathetic ear, the basic need for someone to “just listen.”
Using active listening skills and incorporating a smile, kind voice and positive contact helps to gain the customer’s trust, allowing them to calm down. After introductions, follow the universal greeting with name and affiliation and reason for addressing the customer, Young advises, and ask a relevant question to establish the status quo. Starting a conversation this way inspires non-escalation or de-escalation of a situation.
Young went on to detail steps in reducing stimulation, ways to separate and support and showing calmness during the situation. For more details, check out the full story from the National Retail Federation here.
Ways to calm threatening subjects
- See the world through their eyes
- Listen with all senses
- Ask and explain way
- Offer options; let them choose
- Give opportunity to reconsider