Before starting my company I wrongly assumed knowing how to greet someone was an innate ability. I quickly found it varies generation to generation, male to female. We all approach people differently. Regardless of how we do it, the approach matters. The opportunity to make a first impression only happens once.

When I train new employees, one of the first things they learn is how to greet a customer when he or she comes through the door. A greeting is the first moment of contact, an acknowledgment your customer is seen and appreciated. Whenever possible I greet customers with, “Hello! What can I help you find today?” The answer usually includes a hello back, along with a yes or no response. I proceed based on what I hear. With time my welcome evolves into a personalized greeting as I get to know my customers.

At times I work alone. Often I will be engaged in conversation with a customer when someone else walks in. Each time I attempt to make eye contact, wave and if appropriate, take a break from my current conversation to greet my new customer.

I continually coach employees until they become comfortable with the process and find their own voice. Practice until you find a dialogue that works for you. It is crucial to notice a person walking through your door, regardless of your profession.

When I walk into a store/business and no one notices or talks to me, I generally leave without making a purchase. Often I don’t go back. I like friendly, happy people who care about what they are doing and the people who support them.

Success is driven by customer service. Outstanding customer service begins with a greeting. A greeting influences a new customer’s internal response to your business. While you may not see it, customers will often base their opinion of your company on the way they are greeted during their initial interaction. First impressions matter. Make yours unforgettable!

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