Friday, December 08, 2006

The Importance of Greeting Your Customer

Here is a question for all of you. How many of you, as a customer, have had a bad sales experience? Hmmmm. Looks like that's all of you. So think about it, if all of you have had a bad experience, that means that all of your customers have had one too.

What does this have to do with greeting your customer? Well if all of your customers have had a bad experience, then they probably consciously or unconsciously have a chip on their shoulder or a wall up. Have you ever noticed that some customers come in with an attitude? So many salespeople end up feeling defensive when their customers are on the offense. But it isn't about you. It is about the other consultant. So what can you do to remove the chip and break down the wall?

Greet them warmly and sincerely. A true warm welcome can be totally disarming. I recently went to a restaurant in Santa Fe and I was blown away by the greeting. The gentleman at the front door greeted us as long lost friends. He truly seemed grateful to have us come to his restaurant. To be honest I didn't love the food. It was good, not great, but the experience was so amazing I would go back in a heartbeat.

So what are the elements of a good greeting?
1. Immediate recognition. Don't wait even a couple of minutes to acknowledge your guest. If you are anywhere in proximity of your customer say hello. If you are with another customer you can still acknowledge them and let them know you will be with them as soon as possible. Nothing is more frustrating than waiting for someone to acknowledge you.

2. Make the greeting warm and sincere. If you are not truly grateful that this person decided to walk into your establishment you need to rethink where your check is REALLY coming from.

3. Handshakes are optional. I used to recommend that EVERYONE get a handshake, but the fact is that there are many cultures that find that offensive. My best tip is to wait with your hands at your side until the customer makes the first move and then do what they do, whether it is a handshake, bow or kiss. If you would like to know more about working with different cultures I recommend the amazing book "Kiss, Bow or Shake Hands".

4. Avoid "How may I help you?" this question allows the customer (in a sales situation) to say "just looking" at which point you are already in a hole. Start off with "How are you?" or comment on something they are wearing "great glasses , where did you get them?", even a comment on the weather can help you to start building rapport. But if your customer doesn't like small talk get to the point quickly.

5. Understand them. Begin your relationship with the true goal of finding out their wants and needs and making sure that you fulfill them.

These five steps will help you start building rapport and trust. The sooner you can build rapport and trust with your customer, the sooner you can remove that chip from their shoulder or start tearing down the wall and create a "customer for life"

Even though this all sounds so basic, aren't you amazed at how often you are ignored or treated badly?

Remember you only have about five seconds to create an impression. Make sure it is a good one!


Anonymous said...

can material from this site be reproduced for non-commercial use?

Laurie Brown said...

Absolutely. Just email me at and let me know how you will b using it.

Anonymous said...

What do you think of in-person canned greetings? My employer wants me to greet each customer with 'hello bonjour'. I do not speak french and feel that this opens things up for the customer to continue our exchange in french. A coworker has already had a very unpleasant exchange with a french speaking person and I do not want to be next. Yes, my employer is aware and ok with the fact that I do not speak french. The theory is that I will offer a translator if neccessary. The most distressing part of this is that I cannot approach the customer with my usual friendly and sincere greeting. I was so happy and it has worked so wonderful for me all this time. I actually avoid eye contact now and wait for them to come to me. I really need your professional perspective!

Laurie Brown said...

That is a good question. To give you a true answer I would need far more information about your business, yor customers and few other things. I have no problem with consistent greeting protocols but it clearly is making you uncomfortable.
Email me if you would like to discuss this further
lauriebrown at

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I thought you immediately say that you would find this insulting to the customer who does speak french. Informally every person I have asked has said that they would feel foolish if they starting speaking french as if they had been led into it. Perhaps the person also speaks english and was just going say in french, yes and how are you today? and I am now fumbling for a translator. The ratio of french speaking customer is about 1 in 500. I think that I will stick with my gut feeling on this one. Thanks!

Gulfholdings said...

nice blog!

Anonymous said...

hello but in my company we suggest by managemnt to us how may i help u

Anonymous said...

My boss told me the importance of greeting and it is the part human communication that we perform as per our daily activities in both personal and professional lives.

Jaxon said...

Yes, Customer’s perception about the product or services not only determines the growth of an organization greeting the customer is very important. Workshops on customer service can give a good understanding about what a customer really needs.

Small Business Answering service said...

Thanks for the good info! Treat the customer just the way you would like to be treated. I believe that to win in any market place you need to love your customers..