Beyond hello: reading the unique signs your customers give.

When it comes to greeting customers, “hello” seems pretty safe. But beyond this, how you greet your customers can either make or break their experience in your store. For starters, you don’t want to scare them off with an over-the-top “car salesman” approach that doesn’t allow them to move at their own pace. Yet, you don’t want them to feel like they have no support while visiting your business, either. So just how do you deliver a perfectly warm, accessible greeting that doesn’t feel pushy or overwhelming?

Read Their Signals
Okay, nobody’s suggesting you and your employees take a formal class on body language. But what you can do is educate yourself and your team on the basic clues each unique customer gives about how to approach them with more effective communication. There are three simple things to look for when talking to customers once they’ve walked into your store.

Eye Contact – Are they making it? If so, this allows you to be more direct after saying “hello.” If they don’t make any eye contact, take it as an indicator to back off a little bit. Give them space and offer your willingness to answer questions or provide help a few minutes into their shopping experience.

A Smile – If a smile is included with eye contact, take it as a welcome sign that the customer is approachable and more likely to be okay with some chitchat. Don’t overdo it though. Say hello, then follow up with an immediate question or comment to engage your customer. Make it an easy one, such as: “have you visited our store before?” or “isn’t the weather beautiful today?” From their response, you can base your next move.

Their Response – Following up on each response a customer makes throughout their store visit is important, but reacting to their initial response after your first “hello” is essential. If you get no eye contact or response, simply let them be. If you get a quiet, casual “hey,” give them some space before you offer any support or ask them a question. If their response is friendly and engaging, respond right away with an interactive question or comment. Continue to assess their responses as their time in your store continues. It’s likely every customer will want some space at some point, so don’t overdo it with conversation – no matter how friendly your customer is.

Keep in mind that every customer is unique; therefore, your approach for supporting them should be unique. A simple rule of thumb is to act the way you would if a friend walked into the store. Tone of voice and genuine attention to a consumer’s needs go a long way.  If you apply an attitude of fresh inquiry and understanding to all customers, you will win them over. Reading these simple signs can help you identify how to give the best service. No formal checklist of correct replies needs to be made; instead, focus on how you can help each unique customer. “Hello” should be the only uniformity in your greeting.   –Brian Thompson, Director of Sales, Horny Toad Family of Brands