When someone greets you and says, “Hello”, you will probably respond with your own greeting. Even in your worst mood, when someone greets you with a genuine smile and sincerity, most probably you will acknowledge the greeting and respond appropriately. Such greeting can be so powerful that it can even turn your frown in to a smile and drastically put you in a good mood.
Greeting is one of the basic functions of communication and triggers positive conversations. It helps us connect to people at a more personal level. Especially for strangers, greeting someone before initiating a conversation is a must if you don’t want to get a nasty stare or a negative response. A warm, genuine, and sincere greeting can cause even a stranger to open up, break down defensive walls, and be comfortable.
When you are introduced to a new acquaintance, your greeting will form part of that person’s first impression of you. How that person greets you will influence your first impression of that person.
If you are tasked to conduct a talk, your first 60 seconds will determine how you can influence your audience’s attention and interest. Within this first 60 seconds, your introduction includes your greeting and how you do this will set the mood and mindset of your audience throughout the entire duration.
It’s amazing how a simple and effortless gesture can have a huge impact and pay off immediately. It is also amazing how difficult it seems for businesses to consistently and appropriately implement this as part of their customer service practices. Whatever the reasons are, the fact remains that greeting customers is a MUST.
It is a common expectation and practice of courtesy that when a family member or a friend knocks on your door, you try to drop whatever you are doing as quickly as possible to get the door as soon as possible and warmly greet him/her. Is this a biased action because that person is special? Fair enough, but aren’t your customers also special?
Every customer wants to feel special and this is because they are special. Thus, should be treated special. No customer would want to feel ignored and should never be ignored. When a customer enters your store, they will expect to be acknowledged. They will expect to be greeted. They will expect to be assisted. They will expect the best experience in every visit to your store.
Customers don’t want to feel that they are just customers and their only purpose when they visit your store is to purchase your product. They don’t want to feel that they are just a part of your statistics. Ineffective greetings make them feel this way.
There are certain particulars that customers want when they are greeted. Aside from being friendly, below are the common characteristics.
a. First 10 seconds – Studies have shown that the first 10 seconds once customers enter the store can be a deciding factor if they will continue shopping at your store or step out in the next 10 seconds. Customers want to be acknowledged and greeted within the first 10 seconds. When customers are ignored, there’s a high probability that they will take their business to a competitor where they will be attended to immediately.
b. Eye Contact – Employees who greet customers while doing something might as well not do it. This is a very disrespectful behavior. Unless you’re assisting another customer, drop what you are doing, look the customer in the eye, and greet the customer.
c. Smile – A smile with a greeting may work in some extent, but a greeting without a smile only sends a message to your customers that it’s just a requirement. But a greeting with a smile is a prefect pair. However, you have to be careful because, believe it or not, customers can see through fake greetings and smiles. It’s no brainer that greetings and smiles are fueled by our emotions. The same emotions are felt by the recipient.
d. Use their name – People love to hear their names mentioned in businesses establishments. This doesn’t just make them feel special, but it also gives them a sense of “belonging”. Make an effort to note down customer names and their usual purchases. By doing so, your customers will feel that you care enough and value them to know something about them. Greeting customers by name develops a more personal store-customer relationship. If you do not know the name of the customer yet or forgot it, you can get away from it for now, but make the customer feel that you recognize him/her by saying something like, “Hi, it’s nice to see you again.” or “Hi, welcome back.”
e. Personalize – Don’t use the same canned greeting for each customer. Be observant. Use any visual, verbal, or olfactory cues from the customer to personalize your greeting. A customer who steps in your store who looks tired, panting, and sweaty will not appreciate a simple, “Good day, how can I help you?” It’s quite obvious that this customer is not having a good day and is feeling uncomfortable. A better greeting would be, “It’s indeed hot outside. Would you want to take a seat for a moment and a glass of water?” This skill is may be difficult to attain, but with enough experience and proper training, it can become 2nd nature.
f. Introduce yourself – Though not a necessity especially if employees wear name tags, it never hurts for employees to introduce themselves especially for new customers. This further makes the conversation more personal.
g. Give space – Never go past the personal space of the customer. This will make them uncomfortable. Stop when you’re at least three feet away from the customer.
h. Be genuine and Sincere – Being genuine and sincere when you greet customers can either positively enhance the customer’s experience or turn them off. Being genuine and sincere is what makes a greeting warm and heartfelt. Just like fake smiles and greetings, customers can also feel if you are genuine and sincere with your greeting. This is a decision. This is either a Yes or No. It is either you’re genuine and sincere or not. There’s no in between.
When customers perceive your store have a friendly environment that makes them feel special, important, valued, and gives them a sense of belonging, expect these customers always wanting to come back to your store.