When customers rest-test to find a comfortable mattress, don’t make them so uncomfortable they want to flee the store
The last time Sleep Savvy checked, there weren’t a lot of clothing retailers that encouraged people to try on outfits in the middle of the store—just pull off those jeans and slip on a new skirt right there by the rack. OK, we’re sure there are some that allow this. Probably in Los Angeles. Or London. But our local Kohl’s frowns upon it. That’s what dressing rooms are for, people.
And yet mattress retailers ask virtually every customer who walks into the store to lie down on a bed, get into her typical sleeping position, close her eyes and “relax” for five, 10, even 15 minutes in a room full of strangers. Sure, she can keep her clothes on, but retail sales associates sometimes suggest she slip off her shoes and coat to get even more comfy.
If you’ve been in the bedding business for a while, it can be easy to forget how vulnerable a person can feel while rest-testing a mattress. It’s why so many shoppers resist doing it. For some, it’s all they can do to give the bed a little pressure test with their hand and maybe sit gingerly on the edge for a minute. If you can get them to lie down, they’ll go flat on their back, arms stiff across their chest or at their sides. In an instant, they’re right back up: “Sure. I guess we’ll take this one.” (You’ll get to know these customers well when they return to the store, unhappy with their first choice and wanting a replacement.)
But rest-testing is an essential part of choosing the right mattress and it’s your job as a retailer to make it as pleasant as possible for your customers. Follow these tips:
- Seriously, stop. Once you get a customer settled on the bed with a pillow that’s right for her, tell her you’re going to walk away and give her several minutes to herself. Do not stand over her, continuing to talk about the mattress. Tell her you want her to get a good feel for the support and comfort level of the bed and that you will return shortly to answer any additional questions.
- If a shopper seems reluctant to lie down, go ahead and demonstrate the process for her on a nearby bed—not the one she’s considering. Typically, she’ll feel a bit more comfortable and will start to lie down herself. That’s when you need to get up and give her privacy.
Acknowledge it’s awkward.
- It’s OK to admit to customers that rest-testing can be a tad discomfiting, but don’t dwell on that fact. Emphasize how the process will help them choose the right mattress. As an RSA, you can do a lot to help them narrow their selections, but only they know which bed feels best to them.
Forget about “your side” of the bed.
- Never, ever, ever, ever lie on the bed alongside a customer. Never. Ever.
Keep your distance.
- When you return to the shopper doing the rest-test, give her ample warning of your approach and stand far enough away (not directly at the foot or side of the bed) so that she can sit or stand up. Answer any questions she might have about that model and assess what she thought of it so that you can direct her to the next option.
Control the crowds.
- The only thing worse than an RSA hovering over a shopper is another RSA and a couple of other customers hovering, too. Separate your best-selling beds so you don’t create rest-testing traffic jams in one area of the store.