Your Greeting Needs Intention (and Attention)
I used to bank where employees were obviously required to punch every customer in the chest with a canned greeting.
“Good morning/afternoon sir/ma’am, welcome to blah-blah bank. How can I be of assistance today?”
Each time I walked in I felt embarrassed for the employee on deck. Their sad face spouting a scripted and sullen hello, likely motivated by the fact that their job depended on it.
Can’t you just hear their manager rallying the troops at the monthly meeting? “Alright folks, new directive coming down the pipe from the big wigs at corporate, gotta greet each customer the same way…got a poster here to remind us. And oh, there’s gonna be secret shoppers to keep tabs on us so…don’t make me look bad.”
Tough to get much farther away from genuine customer service.
Even though everything else about the bank was rock solid—barely any fees, no lines, easy online access, lots of ATMs, yadda-yadda, I quit that bank because I couldn’t take those greetings anymore.
The greeting holds the magic. It sets the stage for an unforgettable customer experience. And no matter how good yours currently is, it needs to reflect a mindset that proves you are ready, willing, and able to be of service.
Your greeting is more an intentionally conveyed attitude than anything else.
And veteran staffers, at least as much as newbies, need to revisit their greeting. If it sounds like it did five years ago, it’s time for an upgrade. If it’s what customers might hear at a mall, better change it up. A status quo greeting creates a status quo experience. Can your business afford this so-so exchange? No it can not.
Here are 5 thoughts on shining up your first moment with a customer:
1.BE AUTHENTIC: Your greeting should reflect the real you. The bank example above is the case in point. If what’s rolling off your tongue isn’t what you’d naturally say, your customer will feel the drudgery of it. Maybe even kick you to the curb. That’s no way to begin a healthy connection. Your smile and enthusiasm will go a long way.
2.STOP TALKING SHOP: Your greeting should have nothing to do with business. “May I help you? What can I do for you?” And the more common, “What brought you in today?” all assume the customer knows exactly what they want. Only 20% of customers enter a store with this knowledge! Stop isolating the other 80% and start the interaction with a simple “Hello.” Or, “Good morning.” A neutral greeting relaxes everyone. Including you.
3.GRAB A PROP: Being busy is your best ally. When you greet customers while actively engaged in a project, you are less intimidating than an employee who offers a greeting while leaning on the cash wrap. Whether you are carrying a bottle of window cleaner, a piece of apparel, or a broom, use it to your advantage. Show the customer that you are there to work.
4.LET THE CUSTOMER ARRIVE: If you’ve been in retail for a minute, you’ve probably heard of the ‘decompression zone’ – that invisible space just inside the store’s main door. It’s where your customer’s senses are on the highest alert. There are differences in light, temperature, sound, smell, and everything else compared to outside. Give them a moment to arrive before you hit them with that perfect hello.
5.READ THE PERSON: The greeting could play out in hundreds of ways. Customer walks up, walks in, receives a neutral greeting, and then, depending on how they present themselves, your interaction continues in one way or another. You wouldn’t have gotten into this business if you weren’t already good at noticing the nonverbal nuances of folks’ body language. Put those skills to work and let the connection (and sale) happen organically.
Frankly, if your greeting is compromised, it doesn’t matter how good you are at selling stuff (and make no mistake, you need to be really good at selling stuff). But without a solid foundation of trust resulting from a solid greeting, the customer will simply see you as forgettable, and your store as the same.
Reinventing a played-out greeting resets the potential for loyalty. And really, wouldn’t you take loyalty over a one-and-done big sale today anyhow?
TOM GRIFFEN is a highly sought after trainer and presenter whose message transcends industries. He’ll help you raise the bar while you reinvent your business.