How do you greet your customers?
“How may I help you?” is friendly, but direct — a good choice for people who order over the phone and appreciate expediency.
But it’s not necessarily the best opener for walk-in shoppers, said Nicole Reyhle, founder of the consulting company Retail Minded, a contributing author for Forbes and one of the featured speakers at SAF Amelia Island 2015.
That’s because customers that visit a physical store appreciate an opportunity to look around rather than immediately working with a sales person.
“They want to feel comfortable, welcomed and able to leisurely or quickly enjoy their shopping experience… but without the pressure of you watching their every step,” Reyhle said. So let them peek in your cooler, touch your plush, flip through your greeting cards, etc., for a few minutes, and then, once you’ve made eye contact, smile and simply say, “hello.” Make sure they’re squarely in the store before you address them — saying “hi” before they enter the door makes them feel awkward — and never approach them from behind (it’s startling).
Then, silently take note of their body language. Do they look confused or lost? Do they seem to keep going back and forth between two or three items? This is a good time to speak up. Reyhle recommends the following lines:
- “What brings you in today?”
- “Is there anything in particular you are looking for?”
- “Is there something I can help you find?”
These questions encourage the customer to engage with you and share more about their shopping agenda. Realize, though, that sometimes customers will flat out tell you that they don’t need any help. If they do, don’t take it personally; just follow up with a pleasant response. Try:
- “Completely understand. Should you change you mind, just let me know.”
- “Of course. Enjoy the store and if you need anything, just wave me down.”
- “Absolutely. There’s a lot to enjoy. Have fun.”
Relax: “Customers will lead you to your next steps,” Reyhle said. “Support them with genuine care and enthusiasm.”
Want more tips to improve the shopping experience at your shop? Don’t miss “What a Difference Display Makes,” Reyhle’s session at SAF Amelia Island 2015. She’ll explain the psychology of shopping and teach you how to “tell a story” with your product. You’ll leave with dozens of practical takeaways, such as how to maximize the effectiveness of your shop’s entrance and point-of-sale areas, and how to use sensory appeal to make displays more compelling. Sign up here.