Real Talk

6 Things to Avoid When Greeting a Customer

When you greet a customer, the more experience you have, the more likely you are to make a good, solid connection that sets the stage for a pleasant encounter for all involved. If you smile sincerely, make good eye contact, and create a genuine sense of making sure their needs are met, you’re likely to make a solid, positive connection that will be remembered and cherished.

In addition to concentrating on positive greeting aspects – which will become second nature sooner than you think – here are 6 things to steer clear of when you make initial customer contact:

Empty Eyes

If the eyes truly are the windows to the soul, make sure yours display a picture of empathy and enthusiasm. This isn’t as easy as it seems. While you can pretty easily control your facial expressions and tone of voice, the eyes don’t lie. For some, merely looking straight into the eyes of a customer triggers a visible positive reaction. However, if you have eyes that look like big pools – a big advantage in some circumstances – you may have to practice thinking of events, subjects or people that make your eyes sparkle with interest.

Another eye practice to avoid is staring off into space as a customer speaks. If your eyes are focused on something other than the customer, no matter what you say or do you won’t convince them they are your focal point.

Pouncing

Many work environments fluctuate greatly between frenzied service periods and dead zones. The busy times inspire with adrenaline rushes and feelings of accomplishment, which make the dormant periods even harder to endure. This pent up energy escalates some employees from enthusiastic to pouncing on new customers like fresh jungle prey. Remember that many customers don’t know exactly what they’re looking for or may have been coerced to the store by friends or family, so they need a calm, composed associate to help them make sound decisions. Taking a few deep cleansing breaths before approaching a new customer helps you focus and exude an air of knowledgeable serenity and is a great way to greet customers in retail.

Distraction

The majority of workplaces, especially those that deal with the public on a daily basis, are teeming with distractions. Some commotions like overactive children are more difficult to ignore than a spill on aisle 4, but the best customer service is provided when your focus is on the person you’re helping. If you absolutely must help diffuse an issue, always reassure your initial customer that you will return to them in a few short minutes, at which time they will receive your undivided attention. When you return, pick up where you left off without expounding on the situation you just handled.

Bad Body Language

Sometimes you don’t have to say a word to put off customers; your body says it all. Poor posture or slumped shoulders convey a bad attitude and the customer immediately feels you either can’t or aren’t willing to help them. Crossing your arms over your chest is a classic gesture of defiance and negativity. Playing with your hair or jewelry indicates nervousness and angst, neither of which instills confidence in the customer that you are willing and equipped to help them. Bad body language can really impact how greeted customers feel about the business they’re entering.

Canned Words

“Just one?” “Two for lunch?” “Can I help you?” and “Next!” are among the worst greetings an employee can use. Sure, they are logical and straightforward phrases but are devoid of any warmth or friendliness. Simply prefaced with “Hi, how are you today?” “Hello, nice to see you (again),” “How have you been?” or “Are you finding what you need?” those questions become kinder and more heartfelt. And if you happen to know a customer’s name, by all means use it in your greeting. That simple added touch has proven to substantially improve customer service ratings.

Negativity     

If curiosity killed the cat, then negativity is surely the demise of good customer service. Many times, people cannot clearly describe the problem they need to solve or remember the tool or implement they require for a job. Never say you have no idea what they’re talking about or roll your eyes in disbelief. Instead, keep asking probing questions and point out possible solutions. Put the customer at ease and they often remember important points to help you assist them. Don’t hesitate to ask for the support of a co-worker or manager to solve the problem.

Once you remove these pitfalls in your customer relations, positive interactions will thrive. The more you can relate to your customers on a personal and compassionate level, the happier and more satisfied all parties will be. Pursuing a mystery shopping program will give you insight into how your effectively your employees are greeting customers.

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