I think that it is sometimes assumed that when new employees join our stores that they know how to properly greet our customers. After all, they did greet us during the interview. Unfortunately it has been my experience that many store employees do not know how to properly greet a customer. It seems in most retailers today, if an employee makes any effort to greet a customer the management is satisfied. (As for those employees that are simply not inclined to greet customers, that is another issue all together.)
So what does a great customer greeting look like. Here I will break it down.
Pre-Greeting It is important that employees maintain their sight-lines so they can check for customers. If engaged in tasks, an employee should look up regularly from their work.
Acknowledge If an employee spots a customers they should acknowledge them with eye contact and a smile. A nod helps a customer know that they have been spotted. If the customer maintains eye contact you know they need help and you should move to the next phase. If the customer nods and smiles in return but then looks away and continues their wandering, you can assume that they do not need any immediate help.
Approach If the customer maintains eye contact, you should approach them immediately. Walk towards them with a certain sense of urgency to show that you feel they are important.Step up to them and stop an arm’s length away from them. The is the generally acceptable distance to maintain when talking with a customer.
If the customer backs off, do not move towards them. The want more space. If the customer moves toward you, hold your ground, they are likely a “close talker.” If a customer makes you uncomfortable being so close, simple pick up some product and hold it in front of you as if you needed to pick up that item as part of your work.
Engage Now engage the customer. First as a human being, not as a walking wallet. Extend a friendly greeting to develop rapport than pivot to helping them with any immediate needs such as way-finding or a simple question. Finally, you will be in position to move onto helping fulfill their needs.
Simple, effective, professional.