I’m amazed. Not in a good way. The past year I’ve visited restaurants, hotels, bed and breakfasts, fast-food establishments, car dealerships, grocery stores, retail stores, dentist and doctor’s offices, service businesses, schools, and many other establishments. Except for one or two rare exceptions, they all have one thing in common: They fail from the very second customers enter their business because they don’t greet them (the poor state of customer service is also pointed out in the excellent article, “Customer Service: It Will Save Or Kill Your Business“, by John Spence).
How can this be? How can the easiest thing in the world, greeting a customer, be something your business fails to do? I ask from experience. In my previous life I owned a specialty retail store. I developed an extensive and innovative six-week customer service and sales training program for new employees, where they were introduced to proven techniques and had to pass a test before joining the sales team. The program worked. I watched as confidence – and customer satisfaction and sales – soared. The tenets taught in this first training program provided the basis of my award-winning book Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service.
Starting with that all important smile and friendly greeting at the front door, we took our store from a start-up to a beloved award-winning specialty retail business. Known through the Midwest for excellent, friendly customer service and a vast selection of high quality merchandise, we won West Bloomfield’s Most Beautiful Store Award. Through leadership and customer service and sales training, this store became the leading Midwest dealer for many brands. We didn’t take a single customer for granted, and neither should you.
There’s a famous Chinese proverb that I include in the front of my book SMILE:
“A man without a smiling face must not open up a shop.” So then, why are so many people who don’t smile opening up businesses and hiring people who don’t smile or who are lacking confidence because they weren’t trained properly?
When I walk into a business and I am not greeted, and when I see other customers not being greeted, I think to myself, “Who owns and/or manages this business? Why are they failing at the simplest (and often most important!) task?”
Greeting customers with a warm smile and friendly “Hello” should be done simply because it’s common courtesy, just as you’d greet a guest in your home. Not to mention that greeting customers properly makes you more money. When greeted properly, customers stay, spend money, and become repeat customers. Contrast these customers to the customers you ignore who often leave without making a purchase and will never come back. These lost customers tell others about their poor customer service experience, causing you to lose more customers and money-it’s a vicious cycle.
How to Greet Your Customers
To help solve this rampant problem, I am providing you with one quick and powerful lesson on how to greet your customers properly in the excerpt directly below from my book Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service-The Essential 60-Minute Crash Course:
When a customer enters your business or office, greet them promptly and politely – just as you would greet a guest in your home.
1. Smile. Make it a warm, genuine, heartfelt smile.
2. Look your customer in the eye and say “Hello!” Speak in a warm, upbeat, and friendly manner.
This may sound basic, but you’d be surprised how many businesses fail to greet their customers properly.
According to Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink, first impressions occur instantaneously or within two seconds. A simple smile and friendly “Hello” are extremely powerful and can mean the difference between a customer spending their money with you (and possibly becoming a customer for life) and walking out the door to spend it with your competition.
The Smile Study
In The New York Times bestseller Buyology, Martin Lindstrom discusses “The Smile Study”. Its bottom line? A smile from a salesperson leads to more sales.
Indifference is one of the biggest reasons people don’t return to a business.
End of book excerpt
Share this important lesson on how to greet your customers properly with your staff. Make certain you are doing this also. A friendly smile will make all the difference in the world to your customers and ensure that you and your staff always make a great first impression.
Is your business smiling?
Train your staff for success with Kirt Manecke’s award-winning crash course books Smile: Sell More with Amazing Customer Service-The Essential 60-Minute Crash Course and Smile & Succeed for Teens: Must-Know People Skills for Today’s Wired World . Learn more about Kirt on his website.