Greeting Customers in Retail: Be friendly and Welcoming!
Greeting customers can have a significant impact on their experience. This is an easy investment that will help improve the customer’s impression of your company and yield some serious results.
We all know that customer service is essential, but new research shows just how powerful it can be. Studies show that more than half of shoppers will return to your store because they’ve had a positive experience before, which even helps prevent shoplifting.
There are many different ways of greeting and interacting with customers when it comes to customer service. To help you understand these techniques, we have put together some tips on greeting customers and follow-up questions that may be helpful for any retail environment.
How should you greet a customer? Why is it important to do so in the first place?
One of the top three complaints shoppers have about shopping is that they feel ignored by retail staff. A Salesforce report found that only 32% visit stores because they enjoy it, which could be one reason why.
In retail, what are ways to greet customers?
Vary sales greeting techniques and specific verbiage instead of speaking from a script every time. “It displays brand authenticity,” she says. “When retailers train sales associates to greet in a variety of ways, it allows not just the retailer, but also the associate to share the breadth and depth of your brand values.”
Not only is it essential to have a creative commission structure, but this also helps your employees be more motivated. It shows that you’re aware of what’s happening in the store and how best to motivate them.
The ability to interact with a salesperson is crucial. According to the Salesforce report, three-quarters of consumers place a lot of importance on speaking and working with someone when they need them.
Plus, it feels personal. Each customer wants to hear their greeting, and if everyone who walks in after them is greeted the same, it becomes impersonal.
“[Greetings are] also important in sales conversion and loss prevention,”
Some tips to greet customers in your store.
There are four categories in greeting customers:
- Small talk
Small talk is a great way to break the ice and establish a friendly, human connection with shoppers.
Talking to people is a lot like fishing — you never know what will bite. To start the conversation, ask open-ended questions that invite two-way dialogue and avoid asking yes or no questions as they can quickly lead down dead ends.
If you’re a salesperson and your team is struggling to make any small talk, try these:
- How are you doing this afternoon?
- Where did you hear about us?
- I stayed up to watch the end of last night’s game. Did you see it?
- How’s your day going?
- What are your plans for the rest of the day?
- Who are we shopping for today?
Small talk can also be a form of small business. Just ask the customer how their day is going and listen to what they say.
You know how good Chick-fil-A is with small talk. Every employee has a friendly smile upbeat energy, and they’re all great at making conversation. They make every experience an enjoyable one.
The waiters are chatty and friendly, engaging you in light conversation while you’re waiting for your order. They gave me close to a dozen free salads because the restaurant was closing soon.
Examples to get started with your familiarity interactions:
- What pulls you back to see us?
- It’s lovely to see you again.
- Thank you for returning! How are you doing?
- Have you had a good weekend?
- Are they returning for another (insert prior purchase)?
Greeting Customers: The more you know about the customer, the better your chances of conversion.
There are many ways to motivate your sales team, but one that might not have occurred to you is looking at hair salons. They keep customers coming back for more by having a loyal clientele.
It’s not just about the hair; it’s also about the person.
The people who are most satisfied with their salon experience are the ones that get to know a stylist well. Mothers would drive 45 minutes just for them hair because they had developed strong bonds with their favorite stylists.
Treat your employees like the stylists that they are. Get them to create a connection with their customers by being themselves.
This is when your associates represent the people behind your brand and share a piece of themselves (and thus, your brand) with customers.
It’s essential to speak with customers in the store. These are some of the questions and statements you should use when doing so.
- I like your ___ (shoes, scarf, coat, hairstyle, lipstick, etc.)
- How are you dealing with all of that traffic?
- Are you managing to stay dry with all this rain!?
- Are you taking advantage of all the sunshine we’ve been getting?
- Have you been around the corner to X’s store? It’s one of my personal favorites. (Continue with, “What do you enjoy about that store?”)
1. The more specific you are, the better: Rather than asking ‘how about this weather?’ try something like ‘did you get outside to enjoy the warm weather we’ve been having?’
2. You should be personal with your clients. Try to make a connection and create an emotional attachment: Encourage sales associates to share a bit about themselves through the lens of your brand.
It won’t take consumers long to figure out if you’re not being authentic.
When it comes to customer-staff interactions, authenticity is critical. Your brand should be authentic, and so should your staff.
4. One of the most important things you can do is keep a positive attitude: Every interaction should be positive.
For a customer, being greeted with commonality in action is essential. They want to feel that they are welcomed and respected.
I was in the market for a new snowboard, and I needed to research. Thankfully, Christy Sports had an extensive inventory of boards, so it didn’t take me long before finding one that suited my needs.
I went to a snowboard shop and talked with an associate who was also a snowboarder. He gave me some good advice about the different types of boards available for my needs and how he felt those specific boards worked compared to his own experiences.
I knew that this guy was trustworthy because we had something in common, and I could tell he wasn’t just trying to sell me the snowboard. He told me about his experiences with snowboarding which made it easier for him to find my size.
New customers are often confused and intimidated by the layout of a store. Orientation is crucial for helping them find what they need, giving their anxiety some relief, and leaving them with an overall positive experience.
Sometimes, customers will tell you exactly what they’re looking for. If that’s the case, it should be easy to orient them because all you have to do is guide them to get where they want.
A great way to get people motivated is by giving them the information they need to succeed. This could be anything from advice on not spending their money frivolously or tips for social media marketing.
You can point out that you have running socks for buy-one-get-one, and they’re on the way to your shoe section.
Orientation responses for the “I’m just looking” customer:
- I like to start in this part of the store and work my way around.
- Take your time and take a look around. Some people stay here for up to 45 minutes to explore.
Checking in with customers is essential after the initial engagement. Ask about their experience and make sure they are satisfied.
- Would you like a basket?
- Can I free up your hands?
- I’ll find a fitting room for you, and then I can keep looking around.
- Would you like me to take your coffee and put it on the counter so that you can shop more easily?
- Are you happy with what you’re finding?
You can’t start a relationship with a customer by jumping straight into product information. You have to establish rapport first.
REI is always there for me. When I walk in, they greet and say goodbye to customers. It’s so lovely of them.
Whenever a customer walks in, they are always greeted with an enthusiastic hello, and the associate will ask them what their needs are. They then give them directions to where that product is located. If it’s something specific like help finding clothes for someone of a certain height weight, the staff member on duty will find one of our associates specializing in fitting customers.
It can be hard to find what you need when you’re new to a store. So we’ll help by giving them a warm welcome and making sure they have all the information about our products.
At busy times of the year, when people are buying a lot
Whenever there is a special occasion (such as back to school, Mother’s Day, the winter holidays), it’s helpful to have an appropriate way of greeting customers. Depending on what you are celebrating and how much time you want to spend chatting with customers or clients at that moment, here are some phrases statements for greeting customers:
- Happy holidays!
- Looking for a gift?
- We have a special on some of our most popular items in-store.
Some of the best customer services are done without words. It’s all about body language.
Many factors go into a good customer greeting. It is essential to make sure you say the right thing and how and when you do so.
Consider the following.
Look the part
It’s a no-brainer, but you need to dress up when greeting customers. You want them to think that your appearance is likable and not just another cog in the machine.
There are different dress codes for each store. At a toy store, someone might wear jeans and a t-shirt, while they would be more formal at an office clothes shop with slacks or a skirt.
Even if you don’t have a dress code, make sure your clothes are clean and pressed. Makeup is also essential to help maintain the perfect appearance for clients.
Make sure you are on time for your greeting.
If you are working in retail, it’s best to wait for at least 15-30 seconds before greeting a customer. This is because some people might be browsing and not ready to talk.
It’s better to wait a bit before approaching customers. If you greet them too soon, they may be overwhelmed by the environment and leave without buying anything.
Body language is one of the most important aspects of communicating with others. Pay attention to your posture, gestures, and facial expressions.
Make sure to keep your arms at your sides and look the person in the eye.
Stay at a safe distance from customers to feel comfortable and are not overwhelmed by you.
Continuing the interactions
There are some easy ways to read your customers. They can be very subtle, so it’s important not to miss any of these hints.
- Body language
- Verbal cues
- Eye contact
Bear in mind that every person, and thus every customer, is different.
When you’re hiring, it’s essential to teach your employees the skills they need and get them excited about their work.
You can give associates knowledge of sales greeting techniques to enhance their skills and provide a brand-authentic customer experience.
According to Retail Dive, 31% of retail employees never receive formal training. This can be a problem for stores who have noticed that their staff are not following the correct sales greeting techniques.
A recent study found that 44% of customers know more about products than associates.
When you are trying to improve your customer service, try playing the role of a suspicious or even rude person. That way, they can learn how their responses should be based on asking them for help.
It turns out that the best way to greet and interact with customers is by putting yourself in their shoes. You don’t want them coming off as too salesy or fake. How would you like someone to treat you?