Last week, I wrote about the value of fresh starts. Of course, the ultimate fresh start occurs at the beginning of a new year. Last week, people all across the world greeted 2015 with a renewed sense of purpose and commitment. Among them were business owners, team leaders, and employees who resolved to improve the way they approach their work. You may have been one of them. For many, customer service remains a focus. Ninety five percent of businesses surveyed recently said that improving customer service was one of their top three initiatives for 2015. But it seems every year public perception of service drops despite promises made by companies that it is their top priority. As both a service provider and a consumer, I know how important the customer experience is to the success of any organization. That’s why I’m going to spend the next several weeks focusing my Monday article on simple customer service tips. There’s no rocket science here, just basic things that great companies get right. We’ll start where the customer interaction starts – at the beginning. Here are five simple tips to make sure your customer feels welcome in your place of business.
- Greet each customer as they enter. I hate being ignored, and your customers do too. Simply greeting them as they walk through your door gets the interaction off on the right foot. Make it sincere (not the auto-robotic sounding greetings delivered by many fast food places) and don’t go overboard. You don’t want the customer to feel smothered; but greeting them acknowledges their presence and lets them know you care.
- Hold the door if you are nearby. A lot of the businesses I visit seem to have forgotten common courtesy. Employees stand idly by while customers struggle with heavy doors, often juggling packages they’ve just purchased. With so many ignoring the customer on the way out, I can count on one hand the number I’ve encountered who go out of their way for customers on the way in. Impress your customers by going out of your way to hold the door for them.
- Proactively ask how you can help. Often, I’ll visit a business and observe several employees standing around while one or two work a line of customers. In fact, it happened to me last night. Abby and I went to the movies on a father/daughter date. One young lady manned a register and filled orders. As we waited, I watched another employee standing to the side. He was engaged with a manager in a casual conversation and neither seemed concerned that customers were waiting. It was only after the manager noticed me watching that he came over to help. Don’t be that guy.
- Acknowledge the customer even if you are otherwise engaged. Let’s say you are helping someone when another customer walks by or approaches. How do you respond? What about when you are on the phone as another customer enters? Try simply smiling or nodding your head in the new customer’s direction. Small gestures like this send the message that you are engaged and aware of their presence.
- Greet customers as they enter the drive-thru. I hate pulling up to a drive-thru and being greeted by silence. I know those inside are probably assisting someone else or must be busy with another aspect of their job; but I can’t help wondering if they’ve forgotten me – or even know I’m there. I’d feel a lot better if they would just greet me and let me know they’ll be right with me.
These are only a few ideas for greeting the customer. And, as I said earlier, none are rocket science. But how you start usually determines how you finish. Make a commitment to finish strong. How will you make your customers feel welcome this year?