To Greet or Not to Greet? : Tips for Interacting with your Customers
It can be difficult to know if greeting the people that enter your store is a welcome interaction or a passing annoyance. This question may even cause stress among employees.
While some people prefer not to interact, this is not the case for the majority. A study on the retail shopping experience found that one of the top three customer complaints was not being acknowledged or greeted by the sales associates in a store. So, greeting is good, but it's also true that the most common greeting phrases such as “can I help you?” and “how are you today?” are overused, lackluster, and ineffective.
What should you use in place of these tired old greetings? That depends on the customer - or if they even are a customer.
People that enter your store may just be wandering around or killing time, not intending to actually buy anything. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't greet them, but your conversation might be much shorter than it would be with a repeat customer or a person that comes in looking for a specific product.
You may also come across first-time customers, regulars, or straight-to-the-point shoppers. The way you talk to a visitor in your store depends on what kind of customer they are, and it helps if you can point them out easily.
General Greeting and First-Time Customers
Talking to customers is all about gaining trust and building rapport. If a new customer feels like you truly have their (and their pet's) best interests in mind, they are more likely to buy your products and return to your store.
The best way to achieve this is by actually having their best interests in mind! If you begin a greeting or a conversation with the intention to sell them something, it will be noticeable and the customer will be less confident in you and your products.
A huge perk of working in pet retail is that you have a built-in ice breaker - the pets! If the customer brought their dog in, offer a treat and ask the dog's name. Showing that you care about the reason they're at your store in the first place is a great way of demonstrating trustworthiness and authenticity. This is also a fantastic way of starting a conversation about their pet supply needs. You can ask if their pet has any allergies, what kind of food they prefer, and their favorite kind of treat. To avoid the possibility of offending a customer or making them feel judged on any pet care topics, keep your language personal. For example, share your own unique stories and experiences with different food brands and pet products as opposed to critiquing their decisions.
These customers may not have the time or the desire to speak with you about their pet, and they likely don't want to be bothered with lengthy discussions about loyalty programs and frequent buyer rewards.
When dealing with shoppers that look like they're on a mission, sometimes the best course of action is to ask a brief question about what they're looking for, provide directions to that part of the store, and give a reminder about current product-related deals.
During their checkout, the cashier can make sure they're a loyalty member or offer to sign them up. The nice thing about promotional signage is that customers that would rather get their items and go can still learn about special offers without any interaction at all!
Interacting with Repeat Customers
When you see regulars or notice repeat customers, adding some version of “it's nice to see you again!” or “welcome back!” to your greeting lets them know that you care about their business and you recognize that they shop there often. This increases rapport and creates a sense of community.
Another great way of creating an enjoyable, validating, and personal experience for your repeat customers is by using their names. People like hearing their names, and when you take the time to remember a customer's name (as well as their pets' names!), it can help you make a lifelong customer.
Passive Interaction and Signage
Keeping promotional signage at eye level is the way to go, as people meandering around your store are more likely to see it. It's also a good idea to keep some signage in the front of the store so that people are aware of the deals as they walk through.
It can be helpful to have a designated section for the current offers. This way, a quick reminder as people enter the store, or well-placed signs, can direct them easily to this section. While having signage by cash registers is a good thing, keep in mind that this is most effective when the sale items are within reach, as it may seem awkward or senseless to the customer to ask you to pause the sale so they can go grab the item.
Using AstroLoyalty's in-store promotion kit will make it easier to promote current offers and will make it effortless for customers - especially those that prefer not to be spoken to - to sign up for your loyalty program.
Finally, it is a good practice during every checkout interaction to ask the customer if they are part of your loyalty program and to offer to add them if they aren't. This is also a good time to direct them to the easy-scan signage that you can get through Astro Loyalty's downloadable merchandising kits. This allows a customer to download the frequent buyer app without any hassle or human interaction.
Remember, the more customers you greet, the more pets you meet!