Ever walk into a retail store and wonder, is anyone working here? Are they even aware I walked in? Did this experience make you want to visit that establishment again? I certainly have been in this situation and unfortunately it happens frequently. In this day and age, when it’s just as easy to make your purchases online, and when your competitors are chomping at the bit to steal your customers, it is critical that you acknowledge everyone that took the time to travel to your store.
Take a look at www.zappos.com for a second. You can now purchase shoes and clothing online for lower prices than you see in most stores, get free shipping, and try them on in the comfort of your home. Get an item that doesn’t fit? No problem, send it back for a full refund and shipping is free! For the record, this is not the only website that operates this way. Now, seeing how easy it is to buy online, still think your first impression with a customer in your store is not critical to your success? Think again!
This initial customer greeting is your first date, the first dance, the infamous first impression! Most likely your customer can buy what you’re selling from countless other stores or mediums. You often times only get one chance at this, make it count.
In my years of retail leadership and service industry experience I have seen all extremes of what I like to call “The Greeting”; the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s often your first face to face interaction with your customer, it better be good and leave a solid positive impression of you and your brand. Over time I have come to the realization that the best customer greetings have three key components.
1. Act with urgency. Your customers need to feel like you value them unconditionally. This means acknowledge their entrance into the store within 5-10 seconds. This should be a vocal acknowledgement such as “Welcome to *insert your business here*, how might we assist you today?” (Some variant of this verbiage is fine). It is ever important that your customers feel as if they are being truly welcomed into your store. Think of how you would greet visitors to your home. This is no different. Additionally there may be times when all of your staff is currently busy with customers. It is still critical that someone takes a brief moment to acknowledge customers coming into the store. Letting customers know you see them, and will be available to serve them soon will go along way.
2. Have a positive attitude. This one is the most simple but the easiest to get wrong. Attitude is everything. If you and your team are having fun serving customers it’s easy for customers to pick this up in the atmosphere within your store. Believe me they can tell which of your associates aren’t happy to be at work. It is so important to greet customers with a smile; be warm, inviting, and genuine. Attitude is contagious. Which attitude do you want your customers to catch?
3. Follow up and check in. Often times it can take time to work through the customers you might currently have in your place of business. Keeping a pulse on the customers that are waiting in queue will be critical to their satisfaction and add to the overall first impression. Letting them know on a continued basis that someone will be with them shortly, and thanking them for their patience goes a long way. This shows you did not forget about them and that they are still important to you. Don’t miss this step, as it’s often easy to do.
In my experience using the aforementioned three components of the effective greeting will ensure that you lock up that critical first impression with your customers. The greeting alone will not guarantee a sale, as it’s up to the rest of your sales process to close the deal. However, a proper greeting will show your customers that you care about them and that you value the fact they took the time to choose your establishment to visit.