The way you greet your customer goes a long way toward setting the tone for the customer's experience with you and your business. A warm, sincere greeting will make a positive first impression and dissipate the customer's apprehension. An effective greeting should also help to identify the customer's needs, which can set the stage for making a sale.
Some customers may enter your establishment with a bit of an attitude, giving the impression that they don't want to be approached or assisted. A warm, sincere greeting can disarm the customer and put her at ease. A greeting also acknowledges that you are aware of the customer's presence and that you are there to offer assistance.
A greeting should occur as soon as you are aware of the presence of the customer. If you make eye contact with the customer and look away, he may feel slighted and get the impression that you are not eager to help. If you are with another customer, you can still greet the customer and let him know you will be with him as soon as possible. Otherwise, the customer may think you are too busy for him and could decide to leave.
In additional to welcoming the customer, an effective greeting also helps to uncover the customer's needs. For example, if you work in a shoe store, say, "What type of shoes are you looking for today?" If you don't recognize the customer, you could say, "Have you been here before?" If the answer is no, it gives you an opportunity to start a dialogue by telling the customer about the establishment and its products.
If you haven't met the customer before or know her by name, introduce yourself and offer a handshake. In many cases, the customer will offer her name in return. Use the customer's name frequently during your interaction, as this results in a more personal approach and makes the customer feel that you are concerned about her needs.
Avoid using "May I help you?" or "Can I help you find something?" when greeting the customer These phrases are very broad and do nothing to address the customer's needs. They also give the customer the opportunity to give the standard response of "No thanks, I'm just looking," which is really just a way of saying, "Leave me alone. I don't want your help."
Chris Joseph writes for websites and online publications, covering business and technology. He holds a Bachelor of Science in marketing from York College of Pennsylvania.