I walk into many shops throughout the days and I notice that everyone greets very differently. Some ways really irk me, and some ways offer a pleasant surprise. A greeting I feel should be a personal experience, connecting an associate, hostess, or any sort of representative of a company with a guest on a personal level.
Greetings that Really Grind my Gears:
“Are you looking for anything in particular today?”
This will also be categorized with “How can I help you” or “Who are you shopping for today?” These tactics are ill effective as they paint you as a sales person as opposed to a member of the same community. You have dropped any opportunity for a relatable impression on the customer, and made sure to assure there to be a divide. You might as well be saying to a customer, “how can I help you spend your money today?” I personally would hold my pocketbook close and try to not express any of my needs with this associate and he or she are obviously only hear to help me spend all that it withholds.
“Hello, Welcome to <insert store name here>”
Now you sound like a corporate robot. There are times yes, that a customer may not realize what store they have stepped into , especially in a mall setting, but this is not so common that we have to be reminded the moment we walk in the shop. This also inhibits any further growth potential in conversation and bonding on a personal level with a customer.
No Greeting at All
This has been the most common greeting I have been met with as of late. The associate stands either at the back of the store, or behind the counter and speaks absolutely none to me. They see me, they watch me, but they say nothing. It is almost frightening how they just watch from the darkness your every move, I would actually say this is quite more uncomfortable than any of the two above.
What does Work?
1. A Personalized Open Ended Question.
I’ve read so many blogs as of late complaining about customer representatives and their annoying small talk. How the small talk seems forced or fake, like it’s the same lines they overheard you use with the customer an aisle over. “How’s the weather?” “How I love your dress, where did you get it?” But to bond with any stranger the initial small talk is unavoidable, the trick is not to let it feel empty but be sincere.
The key to this technique is to make the effort to make the connection personal, to turn off the robot responses or scripted lines and just really take a moment to take in the customer before speaking. What do you observe about them? What do you have in common with this person that could lead you to a bonding relationship?
- Perhaps they have just left a favorite restaurant of yours and is now carrying around the to-go cup. This is a common denominator you have to bond with.
- Perhaps their purse or tie are in your favorite color.
- Do they look like they’re happy go lucky, or do they look like they could really use a laugh?
- Do they have children similar age to a nephew, sibling, or your own child?
- Are they wearing a work uniform or a name badge from work?
- Did they bring enough ice cream/ Starbucks to share with everyone? What’s their favorite flavor/ beverage?
“Hello, how are you today? Oh my goodness, green is my favorite color, and I can’t help but to envy the brilliance of the emerald in that purse! Where did you purchase it?”
2. Do Offer Your Name
There is a time after the initial connection is made that some that the less socially inclined may find awkward as the conversation has dwindled. Instead of allowing the awkward silence, and creepily stalking the customer, instead use this as the opportunity to offer your name, perhaps even a hand shake. Let them know that you are around, give a general direction, and reassure them if they should need you, you will be write there.
“Well it’s a pleasure meeting you, I’m Jess, and if you need me I’ll be right at the front of the store folding T-Shirts. Feel free to break me away from this task at anytime if you should have any questions or need any assistance.”
Most importantly you have to find the style of conversation that makes you feel most comfortable, as this will make it sincere. Do not force yourself to follow a script, but instead just allow yourself to observe and bond with your customer.
Your challenge if you choose to accept it:
Managers: Challenge your employees to find out two common facts they hold with at least three different customers in a single shift.
Sales Associates: Practice observing customers and finding common interests before speaking. The trick is to be able to observe and speak in less than a minutes time. Sometimes we have to shout out a ‘Hello, How are you today’ to buy us time.
Customers: Accept the small talk as the sincere effort that it is to be something other than a corporate robot or a sleazy salesperson. As a sales associate there is nothing more rewarding than making a connection with our guests and customers. Allow a connection to happen with a customer representative, see where it goes. You may just be their next favorite regular!