”How May I Assist You?”

By Ardi • March 18, 2009 • Filed in: Thoughts

“How may I assist you?” is really used by sales assistant to avoid having to assist customer.

I was surprised to come across the above statement on a sales training handout. It left me bothered.

In my experience working in a 5 star hotel group, we were taught to always offer assistance to customers by saying “How may I assist you?”. Up until now I still and always believe that the statement is magical and a very useful tool to get first attention from customer. Furthermore, this sentence is by far one of the most polite thing to say by a shop assistant.

This seemingly controversial statement got me start thinking. I tried to understand the writer’s point of view. I did research on the field (in this case a retail shop that I currently work with) hoping to proof the writer wrong.

However, the research proved the writer was not totally wrong. Follow the steps to ”How may I assist you?”:

  • In every interaction between a customer and a shop person, it requires a perfect opening. This is critical to ensure customers feel welcomed and comfortable being in the shop. ”Good afternoon, welcome to ABC shop” would be considered an appropriate opening then leave the customer with some space and time to browse. DO NOT follow the customer around.
  • The next step is to watch the customer’s body language to choose a most appropriate approach.

There are 2 types of customers:

1. Window shopper

In this case they come to the shop with no intention to buy, regardless there is always an opportunity to sell.

Common habit: they like to browse to see what the shop has to offer.

Approach: in this case the shop assistant stays in the background and leave them to browse but continues to watch their body language. Gauge the timing to approach, do not leave them alone too long.

  • When the customer selects an item from the racks, approach them with ”How may I assist you?”. This is the perfect time to offer assistance
  • When the customer hovers around in one place, say the board shorts section, then you approach him/her with “Can I show you the new collections of board shorts?”.

2. Pre-decided shopper

Here the customer has already decided to buy an item eg. board short, say, but they don’t know the different styles and brands of board short that are available.

  • Common habit: the customer will say it straight away ”I’m looking for a pair of board shorts”. Approach: In this case the shop assistant may respond as follow ”Certainly, let me show you our collection”, lead the customer to the board short section and show the range. Then follow the customer cue. If the customer asks questions about the different styles and sizes then respond accordingly and politely.
  • However if reading the body language as wanting to browse first, then you leave them to browse but stay in the background and still be alert. DO NOT shadow the customer. You may say something like ”Feel free to browse and let me know if you need assistance” politely.

So, when you see a customer walks in, are you going to say ”How may I assist you?” automatically?


Keep up the good work.

very nice

Really it works…. nice way of approaching customer accordingly with there requirement.

hi this is very helpful for me in my profession.so Again thanks a lot..

and i wanna knw more things how can we say to cust/client that if u satisfy with our services thn reply us…

hi good day,

its a wonderful and short sentence how to assist you?. I’m the one to read this website …:)

thanks a lot…
God bless


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