Many business owners believe welcoming a customer or guest to a business establishment increases loyalty, improves first impressions, and leads to repeat business and positive word of mouth. Companies that have invested heavily in training employees to properly greet customers-such as AT&T and Apple-have determined by studying their own customer service results that greeting customers makes a difference in their bottom lines.
For example, AT&T retail locations have a customer service policy that requires salespeople to greet customers within ten feet and ten seconds of entering the store. According to a recent “Forbes” interview of Paul Roth, AT&T’s president of retail sales and service, the company has found that how quickly a customer is greeted directly correlates to the customer’s overall satisfaction and willingness to recommend the brand.
If the results of greeting customers are so positive, why isn’t it the policy of every business engaged in retail activities? Unfortunately, many businesses do not have the resources to train employees and build a customer service philosophy. Some business owners and managers simply do not have a feel for customer service and don’t think it’s important. Those smaller businesses that understand the cause and effect of personal interactions with customers on sales can achieve many of the same results as a behemoth like AT&T by consistently requiring managers and sales staff to do these nine things:
1. Stop what you’re doing when a customer enters the premises. If you’re on the phone, put the person on hold for a moment. Show your customer that you believe his patronage is the most important thing to you at that time.
2. Make eye contact with customers when they enter the establishment. Most customers hate being ignored, even if their conditioned response is to tell you that your help is not needed.
3. Smile at customers. It makes you seem more approachable.
4. Welcome the customer to the establishment in a meaningful way. Don’t just repeat a rote phrase, sound bored, or put-upon.
5. Extend your hand in greeting if the establishment is the type to allow you to personally interact with customers.
6. Give the customer your name.
7. Ask if the customer needs help finding anything, but don’t be pushy. Show that you care, but let the customer browse. Tell the customer where you’ll be if needed.
8. Politely excuse yourself for a minute if another customer enters the establishment while you’re with someone else. Greet the new customer properly, and let the customer know you will be available to help shortly.
9. Make sure you are dressed professionally when you greet customers. As the greeter, you want the customer to recognize you as an official representative of the company.
A quick greeting with genuine warmth shows customers that you care and changes the shopping experience for the better. The key is developing a genuine approach rather than a robotic system that has salespeople following a script. Customers want to feel appreciated, even if they don’t need help immediately. Whether you are a current employee of a company or are looking for a job, demonstrating that you understand the importance of greeting customers as the basis of a solid customer service philosophy will give you a leg up on your contemporaries.
About the Author
Beyond.com is the premier Career Network focused on helping people grow and succeed professionally.