August 2, 2017

When I visit my local convenience store, they always greet me, and I find that I always respond by returning their greeting. It’s unlikely that anyone will ignore a person who is being pleasant and verbally interacting with them. Human nature is such that we respond to greetings, which can be a powerful ice-breaking technique and can even turn a frown into a smile.

I’m sure you have visited a store sometime in your life and been given the silent treatment. You may even have had a few instances where you walked through a store and left without a word being exchanged. The sad fact is that if they had interacted with you, they might have made a sale, even encouraging you to visit their store again.

It’s amazing how a simple greeting can have a huge impact and pay off immediately. It is also amazing how difficult it seems for businesses to implement a verbal welcome as part of their customer service practice. Whatever the reasons are for a failure to greet customers, the fact remains that a verbal greeting should be an
important part of your business model and your store associates should be vigorously encouraged to greet every customer even if they are busy at the time.

I believe that when a customer walks into your store, you should stop what you’re doing long enough to welcome them, even it is just to say, “Good morning.” That will let  them know you are aware of them. You might add a question to your greeting by asking if there might be anything you could help them with.
If they know what they want or are shy, they may not take you up on your offer, but you have broken the ice, and it gives you an opportunity to interact with them on a more personal basis later.

If the customer does respond, saying they need a specific product, don’t just point to the aisle and tell them where it is, walk them to the location and place the product in their hands. This gives you the opportunity to discuss their need and possibly offer a better option, but at the very least, it lets the customer know that they are important to you.

Other important aspects of any greeting are eye contact, a smile, learning and using a customer’s name if they are a regular, and being genuine and sincere when discussing products or services. If you use these common sense components in your actions and dialog when dealing with a customer, it will create a relationship as well as repeat business.

Just as important as being personable and helpful is being aware of your customer’s personal space. Most people dislike being crowded, so standing too close could reduce your chances of a repeat visit.

Consider posting a store ethics policy near the entrance to your store, which states that to the best of your ability you will always consider the customer’s needs
and offer advice that will give the customer the best chance for success. Consumers usually know if you are trying to sell them on something. Therefore, point them toward the best product and price, sharing your knowledge about the product’s use and features, explaining why you are recommending a specific product.

Before the customer leaves the store, be sure to let them know that if they need anything else to ask for you, sharing your name with them. You might be surprised when your name shows up in a positive Google or Yelp review with someone saying how great it was doing business with you.

Greeting a customer properly can often be the most important aspect of closing a sale and building customer loyalty. Add a greeting policy to your employee handbook and encourage everyone to do their best to make customers welcome.

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